Brendan's Letter to BRA

Dear Ms. Mercurio,

I am an artist living and working in Jamaica Plain. I am fortunate enough to have one of the few studio spaces available at 128 Brookside Ave in the midst of what was, (formerly), a thriving Arts community in the Brookside/Amory street area of Jamaica Plain. As I’m sure you are aware, this area is currently undergoing a great deal of speculation and development. As a result, my fellow studio-mates, neighbors and myself are growing increasingly concerned at our future prospects here. To compound my concerns I recently attended several Boston Zoning Board meetings at which 2 projects in our neighborhood, including one at the site of the building next to ours, (120 Brookside Ave), where approved.

30 Artists and Musicians are being displaced as a result.

To the best of my knowledge, 128 Brookside is the last remaining artist work space on Brookside Ave. Based on conversations with the owner, our studio building is not currently under immediate threat of sale. This could change at any time however, given the accelerated growth of the market around us.

 I have lived in Jamaica Plain since the 80's and, like many, have watched it evolve in mostly positive ways from which my business has benefited, but it has frankly reached a point where it is rapidly becoming untenable for individual's like myself who's livelihood depends on affordable accessible work space & housing. As a point of fact this community is an integral part of the work I do and my business would not be able to survive re-location. Over the 3+ decades that I’ve lived here I’ve built up a network of patrons and customers that would be difficult if not impossible to replicate in a different location. My sales come almost exclusively through the local independent business’ where my work is displayed and I have devoted a great deal of energy and resources to maintain and build on those relationships. In turn, independent Artist’s and Craftsman like myself offer the community a vibrancy, diversity and creative energy that add to the overall quality of life in any urban area like Jamaica Plain. 

Two articles that appeared in the August 26th issue of the Jamaica Plain Gazette directly address this matter. The first, titled “BRA releases draft of Plan: JP/Rox” describes the city’s development plans for the area in question. Though informative, it’s ultimately a cause for increased alarm for my neighbors and myself. The second article, “Harnessing the creativity of Boston’s artists to build a better city,” describes the Mayor’s plan, (“Boston Creates”), to insure the well being of the city’s Arts community. As much as I appreciate the effort, and am interested in exploring the possibilities these programs offer, the issue of displacement and the threat it poses to my fellow artist’s livelihoods and myself is of critical concern.

Among other local community groups, I am a member of The Green Street Renters Association. During a recent conversation with fellow member Helen Mathews she mentioned that she had met with you and suggested I do the same regarding our options to create a stable work environment for our creative community through your Acquisitions and Conversions Program.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Brendan F. Killian