November 11, 2004

Arts In Downtown Framingham?

Globe West has a story about a group seeking to bring significant cultural events -- concerts, film festivals and the like -- back to downtown Framingham.


I say "back," because there actually were such events in Nevins Hall back in the '30s.

As much as I beat the drum about a pedestrian-friendly streetscape -- and I continue to think that's absolutely vital if there's any hope of downtown revitalization -- walkability alone isn't enough. There has to be something to draw people there. A "sense of place" isn't enough by itself. There's got to be something to attract people to the place.

In downtown Waltham, it's a concentration of good ethnic restaurants along with a movie theater that doesn't solely duplicate what you can see in any suburban multiplex, but also shows some edgier arts films and foreign flicks.

Things like concerts and film festivals could help entice people to downtown Framingham. Combined with planned new housing in the area, there's great potential. But I can't overstress the need to make an appealing park-once, walk-to-many pedestrian-friendly area. It's the best possible way to offer an attractive alternative to Route 9.

Kathleen Bartolini, director of planning and economic development, will be seeking a state grant to study creating of a cultural district downtown.

The MetroWest Daily News also has a report about the grant application.

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