tim devin

Getting by in Boston

Strong communities need creative residents. When the community becomes prohibitively expensive, can artists band together to come up with a solution?

The Boston area consistently ranks among the most expensive cities in the US--and if that weren't bad enough, rent and property values have been shooting up recently. While this situation affects everyone, the creative community has been having a particularly hard time lately.

A large number of small creative spaces have folded in recent years--knocking a rung out of the ladder that creator need in order to build their careers. Studio space is also being threatened by development, since creative work space is usually located in older, low-rent buildings, and many developers are buying those spaces up. And there wasn't that much money in the local creative system to begin with, even before the real estate boom. So, many artists are leaving town, or just packing it in.

Artists have a lot to offer their communities: The joy and celebration in their work. The thoughtful way that they treat local concerns. The fact that they often direct their creative energy towards community initiatives. Not to mention the proven boost that creative minds bring to local economies.

Getting by in Boston, or "GBIB" for short, is a series of meetings, an online forum, and a handful of related groups--all focused on organizing creative people (artists, writers, musicians, etc.), and exploring how we can survive under these conditions.

Jason Pramas, Matt Kaliner and I put together the initial meetings, and help run the online forum--but the whole thing is pretty DIY, with different people taking the lead when they want to. Jason is one of the lead organizers of a subgroup called Mass Creative Workers, "a new progressive political organization in formation for creative workers in Massachusetts." I help run another subgroup called "how to be an artist and a parent?", which focuses its energies on the challenges parents face.

Location: Boston MA

Dates: 2014-present

The "Getting by in Boston" network

Getting by in Boston discussion page

Mass Creative Workers

how to be an artist and a parent?

Learn more

Edmond Caldwell. "'How We Get By' at Lesley University." Boston MA: Big Red & Shiny. June 19, 2014.

Tim Devin. "Artists on how they get by." Boston MA: Massachusetts Cultural Council' Artsake. June 30, 2014.

Tim Devin. "An Experiment in Survival: Organizing Creatives in Pricey Boston." Albuquerque NM: Pyragraph. Aug. 21, 2015.