The Performing Arts Facilities Assessment aims to understand the current and anticipated venue challenges of local performing arts organizations in Boston. TDC, a nonprofit management consulting and research firm, was engaged to conduct the study in partnership with the BPDA and the Mayor’s Office. The study is guided by three questions:
- What is the supply of spaces that serve the performing arts in Greater Boston?
- What is the demand for spaces that serve the performing arts in Greater Boston?
- How well do supply and demand align?
Researchers spoke to individuals from across the arts and related fields, including leaders of large producing organizations, artists creating one-person shows, managers of venues for global corporations, volunteers at community centers, and those who support the sector through advocacy, providing services, philanthropy, and setting policy. The assessment revealed the following conclusions:
- There is excess supply. Certain types and sizes of performing arts spaces have availability for rehearsals and/or performances.
- There is unmet demand. Many artists and arts organizations are searching for additional or different rehearsal and/or performance spaces. The need for rehearsal space is particularly high.
- Excess supply and unmet demand do not align due to issues of appropriateness, price, and location of available spaces.
- Because users cannot pay the full operating or capital costs of facilities, the market requires subsidy to adequately support facilities. Economic realities for both space users and space providers prevent them from finding a pricing “sweet spot” absent significant and ongoing additional support to run, maintain, and update facilities.
The assessment identifies potential solutions that would require a new approach to how facilities are financially supported, operated, and managed in Boston and the creation of new tools for:
- Enhancing partnerships between developers, the City, and the local arts community.
- Stimulating new sources of funding in the philanthropic community.
- Developing funding mechanisms that provide ongoing support to increase access to spaces and ensure they are adequately maintained.
- Ensuring that any new spaces are operated effectively with incentive structures that elevate the needs of the local performing arts community.
A final report will be issued following the 30 day public comment period.