People Behind the Plans: Julie Burros

About This Episode

Julie Burros sees arts and culture not only as an end in itself but also as a way planners can solve intractable problems. Throughout her career, she's helped governments leverage experimental, artist-designed projects: there was taiko drumming with seniors through a dangerous Boston intersection and outfitting a City of Boston FleetHub vehicle with comments from a public meeting.

The principal cultural planner at Metris Arts Consulting speaks with People Behind the Plans host Courtney Kashima, AICP, about all things cultural planning, and they use Julie's "Cultural Planning Manifesto" as a jumping-off point for their conversation. She covers the breadth of what goes into a cultural plan, including arts education and support for individual artists. The document discusses the physical look and character of a city, of course, but it also addresses how to make art part of the infrastructure of the public realm, as well as how to embed arts and culture within work on affordable housing, climate change, transportation, and other areas.

Julie talks about her experience working as Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Chicago and then as Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston; in both cities, she created and implemented their cultural plans. She and Courtney delve deeper into the idea of culture as infrastructure — in other words, a basic human need. Julie argues that cultural planning is a way to investigate issues of deep, systemic inequities and give people hope.

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