Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cultural Council & District

The Maynard Cultural Council channels thousands of dollars of state money every year via grants, to support arts, humanities and science programs benefiting the Maynard community.  The Council – our local arm of the Massachusetts Cultural Council – was also instrumental in applying our cultural district designation, which encompasses and supports cultural, historical and recreational facilities including the Maynard Public Library, Acme Theatre, ArtSpace, art galleries, the Fine Arts Theater and other performance spaces, several live music venues, and access to the Assabet River Rail Trail.

The state program had its beginnings in 1975 as Artist Fellowships, funded by the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities. The organization morphed into the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 1990. Going forward, MCC continued to award fellowships, but also expanded a Local Cultural Council program, which award millions of dollars every year to towns and cities that have their own Cultural Councils.

David Mark selfie with Babe Ruth
Maynard’s Cultural Council, a volunteer organization appointed by the Board of Selectmen, accepts proposals once a year. One of the better-known projects was “Maynard as a Canvas,” which hired mural artists to create murals on both sides of the one-time Murphy & Snyder Printers building at the corner of Parker and Waltham Streets. Two entries were selected as winners from 80-some applicants. Completed in 2018, one side hummingbirds, the other incorporating portraits of Henry David Thoreau and Babe Ruth. Why them? Because both had visited, in 1851 and 1917, respectively.   

March 2017 saw the culmination of a multi-year effort to apply for and achieve state cultural designation. The application process started years earlier, with the formal submittal of the application to the state Cultural Council in early 2016. This designation is seen as a tremendous boost to Maynard’s growing reputation as a cultural destination, a place where residents and visitors alike can stroll from venue to venue, whether their intent is dinner and a movie, a pub crawl, Maynard Fest, or other events. As an annual event, the Council and District join the Town of Maynard in sponsoring ArtWeek, held during the end of April into early May.

This logo can be seen on a sign between Route 27 and the
Assabet River Rail Trail, near the golf course. 
The district designation was initially as “Assabet Village Cultural District,” but in early 2019 was changed to the more easily identified “Maynard Cultural District.” The logo is a triangle, tilted, with the words MAYNARD and DISTRICT bracketing a multi-color script Cultural.  The footprint of the district encompasses Summer Street from Waltham Street Bridge to ArtSpace on the north side (with a bulge to capture the Library), then south on Florida Road and west on Railroad Street to gather in Main Street, the mill pond and the mill complex, and then east along the river to return to Waltham Street. Doing so captures the smaller triangle of Summer, Nason and Main Streets, within a larger triangle of the town’s central business district. Going forward, the Council, District and Town work jointly to enrich Maynard’s art’s experience.

Maynard’s last Master Plan, issued in 1991, was designed to cover 15 years, i.e., through 2006. After a long ‘oops’ hiatus, Maynard restarted a master plan process winter of 2017, resulting in a 2020 Master Plan that will serve as a roadmap for the next 20 years. This plan is Maynard’s vision for the future and strategic outline for getting there. Per state law requirements, it addresses natural resources, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, historic and cultural resources, open space and recreation, land use, housing, and lastly, provides for a periodically updated action plan to implement all the objectives. The plan calls for promoting a high density, mixed-use core while preserving greenspace as urban tree planting, parks and forests. The Complete Streets Policy that was begun in 2016 will continue to promote a street and sidewalk network for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. The town encourages housing growth that fits into Maynard’s core walkability and also contributes to Maynard reaching the state goal of ten percent affordable housing. The plan also recognizes the importance of Maynard’s arts, dining and entertainment businesses in making the town an attractive place to live and visit.

Challenges faced by Maynard include an aging infrastructure, potential limits on water supply, need for more services for the fast-growing senior population, a school system with capacity issues and an antiquated fire station. Completion of the 129 Parker Street complex adds to the traffic burden and town services burden.

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