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MassDOT Seeks Artists for Green Line Station Work

The new Green Line Extension stations will feature artwork. Interested artists are encouraged to submit qualifications.

Credit: Chris Orchard
Credit: Chris Orchard
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is looking for artists to conduct work in the future Green Line Extension stations in Somerville and Cambridge.

The transportation department issued a "request for qualifications" this month and hopes to commission "multiple artists to design an integral art program for the GLX stations"—"GLX" being an abbreviation for Green Line Extension.

The initial stations needing artwork will be Lechmere Station, Washington Street Station and Union Square Station, but MassDOT will eventually select more artists for the other four stations planned as part of the extended light-rail line.

Interested artists should keep two dates in mind:

  • Feb 6: A pre-qualification and informational session will be held at 5 p.m. at the GLX Project Office, 100 Summer st., Suite 250, Boston. MassDOT strongly encourages artists interested in submitting qualifications to attend this meeting.
  • Feb. 20: Submissions must be submitted online by 12 p.m.

You can learn more at the Green Line Extension art program web page.
Joe Beckmann January 27, 2014 at 08:21 AM
It is extremely important to keep an eye on context for this request. When last DOT built in Somerville, and created the Davis Square station, they allocated $685,000 for art in a notable program they called Arts on the Line (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arts_on_the_Line). Those were 1985 dollars, worth several times what they are now, and that was more than three times what is now offered. And, perhaps more relevant, that represented one half of one percent of the total construction budget, negotiated - at the time - by the Cambridge Arts Council and the MBTA. It is simply unrealistic, given the massive inflation of the Green Line expansion budget, to allocate one half of one percent of the current budget. Given the ultimate cost to a Medford terminus, this would represent $70,000,000 for the arts - which simply ain't gonna happen. Yet, it could be viewed as promising that DOT is beginning this dialog now, and that they are likely to support the Arts Council pursuing NEA and other funders for additional support. In today's highly concentrated economy, it is reasonable to set $10,000,000 as a minimal goal for arts-on-the-line for Somerville stations. It is also reasonable to ask how much is being allocated to the Orange Line station. So, how much is going to - or coming from developers in - Assembly Square??
Joe Beckmann January 27, 2014 at 08:24 AM
When the Red Line was planned, the MBTA then allocated one half of one percent of its total budget to the arts. Given the budget for Green Line extensions (and not counting the Orange Line station), that would represent $70,000,000 which kind of contrasts markedly with the $185,000 they're now offering. See the Arts on Line discussion at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arts_on_the_Line).
ttt January 27, 2014 at 09:09 AM
The budget for the green line is $14,000,000,000?? Joe, I think you added an extra zero. Actual budget is somewhere around $1.4 billion, thus one half of one percent would be $7,000,000. And while I'd love to see more funding for the arts in the stations, $10 million is probably not realistic. Thanks for general point, but you really have to be more accurate if you really want to help inform people. Now people are going to read this and repeat it... This is the problem with the comments section. It's not helpful to give people false information.
Joe Beckmann January 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM
It's not the annual budget I'm citing, it's the construction budget for the Green Line extension. And twenty times that $70 million is precisely that $1.4 billion. I compare oranges to oranges, and only produce prunes when the money dries up. At $185,000 we are getting less than a third of what they spent in Cambridge, at a dollar rate thirty years out of date. Watch your zeros.
ttt January 27, 2014 at 04:25 PM
Umm ... right. Didn't you used to work for Somerville schools? If you want to figure out one half of one percent of something, you divide by 200 (not twenty). Thus one half of one percent of $1.4 billion is $7 million (not $70 million).
Joe Beckmann January 27, 2014 at 05:10 PM
$7 million vs. $185,000 is still a pile of cash.
ttt January 28, 2014 at 09:06 AM
Yeah, it sure is. Thanks for staying on top of this. Would be nice to see a city-wide policy on this similar to the Toronto 'Percent for Public Art' program.

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