2018 Community Survey

We learned a lot from our most recent community survey, which was introduced at our Grantee Reception last fall. The online version of the survey ran from January through April of 2018. The results will help and guide our work in the coming year. One important outcome so far is that our current local priorities—public art, programming for our squares and business districts, and partnerships/collaborations—will remain in place for the next grant cycle.

Some other highlights are given below. Where applicable, results are ranked numerically by the amount of positive response they received.

Issues important to cultural vitality in Medford

  1. Public funding for the arts and humanities
  2. Marketing/raising awareness of local programs and groups
  3. Neighborhood revitalization
  4. Access to performance and exhibition spaces
  5. Municipal leadership

Types of public art desired in Medford

  1. Murals
  2. Decorative street art
  3. Themed gardens/artistic landscaping in a park
  4. Outdoor sculptures and installations
  5. Artist-designed street furniture
  6. Rotating public exhibits of local artists
  7. Civic projects that encourage dialogue through arts and humanities

Top locations for public art

  1. Medford Square
  2. The Condon Shell
  3. Playstead Park
  4. Wrights Pond
  5. Macdonald Park

The survey offered several questions that permitted open-ended, free responses. A summary of what we heard is given below. Overall, the written responses were thoughtful and very helpful for the work of the Medford Arts Council.

What creators and makers do to make Medford a great place to live:

  • Promote interaction
  • Expose people to the arts
  • Beautify Medford
  • Promote caring for the city

One of our survey respondents wrote: “Creators and makers engage the public with their art, providing opportunities to think, react, and discuss. By continuing to pose thought provoking questions and ideas, they can help our community address issues, big and small.”

What cultural organizations do to make Medford a great place to live:

  • Make Medford more interesting
  • Bring parts of the city together
  • Create opportunities for active involvement
  • Allow us to see others’ points of view
  • Create opportunities for dialogue
  • Facilitate cross-cultural engagement

Another survey respondent explained why these functions matter: “Cultural enrichment is a critical part of civilized society, and creating space for people to interact in person promotes a strong, empathic, and healthy community.”

We asked also several questions regarding various ways that the Medford Arts Council can better support local priorities.

How could the Medford Arts Council help improve access to the arts and humanities:

  • More publicity
  • Brochures/booklets on Medford assets
  • Target younger audiences
  • Calls to action, calls to volunteer, fundraising
  • More inside venues for winter programming
  • Create high-quality performance spaces
  • Rotating exhibits at library and City Hall
  • Take arts to different parts of Medford
  • Seasonal street art
  • Work with schools and churches
  • Public art
  • Free events
  • Participatory projects
  • Art in unusual settings
  • Create an Arts Center

How could the Medford Arts Council help increase the number of excellent, innovative programs:

  • Pursue outside funding
  • Be more prominent in Medford
  • Provide new performance spaces
  • Collaborate with other organizations
  • Give more funding to Medford artists
  • Have neighborhood delegates
  • Funding for specialists like a Poet Laureate
  • Learn from neighboring cities
  • Sponsor a speaker series
  • Leverage Medford identity, history, assets
  • Create an Arts Center
  • Talk with artists

How could the Medford Arts Council help ensure that diverse audiences and creators can benefit from our work:

  • Diversify MAC membership
  • Multilingual outreach/Translations of grant application materials
  • Actively seek proposals from diverse groups
  • Feature local artists in cultural heritage exhibits
  • Targeted marketing/Advertise in different community spaces
  • Use cable access TV to broadcast community events
  • Liaison with schools, especially Medford High School
  • Hold events with leaders of different community groups
  • Festivals that emphasize different cultures
  • Culinary arts programming
  • Public art
  • Create an Arts Center

How could the Medford Arts Council help promote activities that educate audiences of all ages and abilities

  • Through MAC grantmaking
  • Create an Arts Center
  • Leverage library, schools, and senior center
  • Work with stakeholder groups
  • Partnerships with unlikely groups, like Police, Veterans
  • Functional art in parks
  • Activities at different times and days
  • Mobile arts programming
  • City-wide events

Population groups in the Medford that we should aim to serve better through public funding of cultural programs

  1. Immigrant communities
  2. Communities of color
  3. Teens
  4. Low-income residents

We also asked about community interest in an arts center, a dedicated “home for the arts” in Medford. 66% of all respondents wanted to see a physical space set aside for local arts programming, and another 30% of respondents were at least interested in the possibility. A range of uses for an arts center were suggested, including classes, exhibits, performances, lectures and talks, a makerspace, and artists studios.