Arts, Culture & Diversity

Arts, Culture & Diversity


Waltham is rich with history, arts and culture, and support for the arts should be a fundamental priority for the community. Promoting arts, culture and diversity simultaneously promotes a variety of other important issues such as economic prosperity and job creation, educational achievement, health and wellness, and civic engagement. Perhaps most importantly for a community as diverse as Waltham, support for the arts helps to cement and promote a cultural legacy by embracing our community’s unique character and passing it on to future generations. We are a community that has long celebrated these riches and we need to do a better job of celebrating the uniqueness of our people who made it all possible. The arts and cultural offerings of a city tell an important story about its history and how it embraces its people of all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds. Waltham should be actively promoting and celebrating our cultural and artistic diversity and it should be our calling card to the world.


In the future, I see Waltham as a world-class city that works in partnership with its artisans, musicians, historic preservationists, schools, cultural groups, colleges and residents to build an Arts, Culture and Diversity Program that is unmatched. All of the necessary characteristics to become a world class cultural center are already here, but it requires leadership, vision and heightened collaboration to bring those assets together and build something exceptional.


Our Community: Arts, Culture & Diversity in Waltham

Waltham has a long list of existing cultural assets that are already contributing to the fabric of our community. Our robust local music scene includes two orchestras – the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and Waltham Symphony Orchestra, the Reagle Music Theater of Greater Boston, a free summer concert series hosted by the Waltham Arts Council, Waltham High School’s show choir Music Unlimited and show band, and many other live music offerings. We have amazing performance art by the Hovey Players, Bentley and Brandeis Theater Companies, and are proud to be the only school district in the state offering drama education to all students K-12. We offer unique physical assets such as the Waltham Public Library, Waltham Historic Society, a variety of historic estates and homes, and the Waltham Mills’ Artists Association. Having such outstanding artistic talent and physical assets right in Waltham’s backyard delivers amazing benefit to our residents and these assets should be maximized to their fullest potential.


Our community is exceptionally diverse and getting more diverse over time. In the decade between 2000 and 2010, Waltham saw a 5.1% increase in Latino population, a 2.3% increase in Asian/Pacific Islander population and a 1.5% increase in African American population. These demographic changes are unusual for Massachusetts and make Waltham incredibly unique. As a community, we need to translate that uniqueness into opportunity, and as we engage in policy making, supporting and celebrating our diversity should be a large part of the decision making process.


My Arts, Culture & Diversity Agenda

As mayor, I will support a program of arts, culture and diversity that makes Waltham the envy of Greater Boston. Our agenda will be formulated around three important principles of resident engagement, planning for the future, and effective management. We will learn from the experiences of other world class cities and look for ways to integrate creativity, cultural awareness and artistic exploration into our city fabric. When visitors come to Waltham, they will immediately understand who we are and what we are about by seeing, hearing and experiencing the history, art and cultural diversity of our amazing city. Supporting the arts also offers economic benefit to the city and our small businesses. The Academy of the Arts estimates that an average arts attendees spends $24.60 above the price of admission when attending an arts event, and that non-local visitors spend twice as much as local visitors to cultural and arts events. This spending represents an important economic boost for our city while simultaneously promoting a stronger community development platform for our residents.


Planning Ahead

Under my leadership, Waltham will seek a Cultural District Designation for downtown that supports enhanced cultural activities and tourism. We will become a destination for events, dining, unique cultural and historic experiences, and the arts. We will promote arts and culture in our public spaces and buildings by adopting great models like the Sidewalk Poetry Program recently launched in Cambridge, and we will remove red tape to enable more performance art in public spaces as was recently undertaken in Boston. We will maintain, preserve and invest in our public spaces so residents and visitors feel safe, comfortable and welcome to participate in civic events and visit public spaces. We will promote enhanced arts and music programming in our public schools to ensure that our students obtain a comprehensive educational experience with enrichment programs that offer opportunities to express their creativity and talent in a variety of ways. We will ensure that our public library has the resources it needs to continue their valuable programming that serves residents of all ages. We will explore the opportunity to open an arts center, as was once contemplated for the former South Middle School, to provide a place for music, arts and cultural programming for Waltham residents.

Effective Management

Under my leadership, the city workforce will be more representative of the population it serves. We will establish a Cultural Diversity Committee that will work to enhance outreach efforts to multicultural groups and promote more engagement with city government at every level. The Committee will advise my administration on ways to improve our diversity planning, programming and engagement, and diversity policies will be integrated into every department of city government. We will support expanded adult ELL classes, introduce citizenship classes, and integrate workforce development programming for young adult immigrants into the public schools to mitigate drop-out potential and provide alternative pathways to opportunity for their future. We will collaborate with local artists, cultural groups, public schools and community groups to produce street-based art and performance, and to display local art throughout our public buildings. We will establish public-private partnerships and seek foundation support of innovative arts programming, such as micro-grants to artisan entrepreneurs, pop up art exhibits, and storefront artist programs.


Waltham needs the right team in place to drive progress and execute our community vision. As mayor, I will appoint a Diversity Director within city hall to serve as a liaison to the minority and immigrant community and to ensure that all residents have an open line of communication to the Mayor’s office. The Diversity Director will also be responsible for engaging with city departments, Personnel Director, residents and with the Cultural Diversity Committee to ensure that consistent and comprehensive diversity policies are implemented throughout every city department. I will also establish an Arts and Culture Director, who will be a strong and focused advocate for the arts in Waltham. The Arts and Culture Director will be a partner for the Waltham Arts Council and will serve as a grant writer for the city to attract new financial resources to supplement non-profit and government-sponsored activities. It is anticipated that the economic benefit of promoting enhanced diversity and art and cultural activities, coupled with the opportunity to attract grants, foundation support and public-private partnerships will generate more than enough revenue to support these two important personnel positions.

Meaningful Engagement

Under my leadership, the voices of all of Waltham’s residents will be heard and celebrated. We will promote cultural exchanges between Waltham and other cities around the world, and look to models such as the Hands Around the World Program in Dallas, TX to make meaningful connections between our residents of diverse ethnicities. We will collaborate with artisans, multicultural groups and our colleges to create synergies between our arts and cultural events by leveraging existing events such as the Waltham Food and Wine Festival, the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts, the Watch City Steampunk Festival and the Waltham Riverfest to provide additional tourism and cultural benefit for Waltham. We will work to promote and support the existing arts, cultural and historic groups and institutions that make Waltham such a great place to live and visit.


What This Means to You

When Waltham embraces its arts, culture and diversity in a systemic way, you will feel a new sense of community in our city. It means people of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds being a part of the decision-making process in Waltham, and as such, our city’s decisions will be more comprehensive and thoughtful about meeting the needs of all residents of Waltham. It means our streets, buildings and public spaces will be welcoming and adorned with all local art and expression. It means better enrichment in our schools and more creativity for our students. It means people of all ages and backgrounds coming together toward the common purpose of making our city beautiful and joyful. It means music and performance on our streets, tourists filling our shops and supporting our local businesses, and a revived spirit of excitement throughout our city. Under my leadership, residents will have the opportunities to contribute to the fabric of our community in their own unique way, and Waltham will be better for it.