History

The initiative began in 2012 as a partnership of city, community and arts organizations, coordinated by the Boston Foundation, and focused on Dorchester’s Upham’s Corner.  The partnership received a $480,000 from ArtPlace America to pilot the effort. The aim was for a revitalized center of neighborhood arts and ethnic culture, catalyzing a “cultural economy” with art installations, outdoor markets, local business activities and “random acts of culture” in and around the historic Strand Theatre and Upham’s Corner MBTA Fairmount Line rail station.

The Upham’s Corner Artplace (UCAP) initiative was intended to serve as a pilot for similar efforts along the Fairmount Line in the corridor’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods. UCAP’s work dovetailed with the City of Boston’s Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative, led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, to develop a long term strategy for business growth, employment opportunities, housing development, and corridor branding along the 9.2 mile Fairmount/Indigo commuter rail line. The line, which links South Station to Readville, crosses through Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park. Also underway were Strand Theatre renovations, City-led planning and investment in local roadway infrastructure, and MBTA upgrades to the Fairmount Line.  UCAP partners focused on activities that help ensure that the corridor’s revitalized economy expresses and strengthens the cultural identity of its neighborhoods and residents.

The partners in the Upham’s Corner pilot leveraged local cultural communities and businesses to create a dynamic, shared vision for the neighborhood – with an eye toward connecting residents often disengaged from the public process. Residents and artists organized public art, open studios, public performances, craft and food markets, and innovative programming such as “pop-up” exhibits in storefronts to raise the visibility of culture and access to planning initiatives by locals in the neighborhood. Particular focus was on place-making activities utilizing readily available spaces like the station, parks, street corners to connect and strengthen arts, culture and neighborhood business. In addition, the project focused on use of the Strand Theater as a performance hub for the neighborhood, with local partners assisting local artists as they grow their businesses.

In 2014, the initiative renamed itself The Fairmount Cultural Corridor and expanded down the Fairmount Indigo line to partner with arts and community organizations in the Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester. 

More information about the Upham’s Corner pilot initiative can be found in the case study:

“Do You See Yourself in Upham’s?” A Case Study of Belonging, Dis-belonging and the Upham’s Corner ArtPlace Initiative.