en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

Malden courts artists for new Cultural Center

Mayor Gary Christenson
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Join us at the Courthouse Arts Festival on Saturday, May 14

By Malden Mayor Gary Christenson and Ward 3 Councillor Amanda Linehan


  We want to share an update on Malden’s efforts to transform the recently decommissioned Malden District Courthouse on Summer Street into the Malden Center for Arts and Culture. Last May, Mayor Christenson formed a Steering Committee led by Ward 3 Councillor Amanda Linehan and a diverse coalition of arts and cultural leaders and practitioners. The Committee has been collaborating with Malden’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston Society for Architecture, UX Architecture Studio, and Silverman Trykowski Associates to create a “concept plan” based on broad community input. This plan will help determine what kinds of programming the building should have, how to redesign the space to compliment those uses, and how the building can be financially self-sustaining.

  The Steering Committee is nearing the end of its work and has settled on a vision for the Malden Center for Arts and Culture that is inclusive, accessible, equitable, and versatile. The building will be a hub for creative practice and community engagement, and it will have a warm and inviting atmosphere for music, theater, dance, and more. The Committee has emphasized throughout this process that Malden’s different communities have different needs, and that we must prioritize accessibility for those facing barriers to access.

  As a result, we conducted a citywide survey from December through January of this year and solicited over 650 responses in seven languages. And while we are proud of how many people we were able to reach, we recognize that communities of color are underrepresented in the responses. We therefore organized further engagement activities in partnership with a few specific organizations, including the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition (GMAACC), Immigrant Learning Center, and MaldenCORE.

  What we learned is that the community is most excited about taking classes and workshops, attending live performances, seeing work from local artists, hosting or attending cultural events, and generally making art through hands-on activities at the center. We also heard strong support for cultural events and classes that celebrate Malden’s diverse communities, free or reduced-cost programming, and a welcoming atmosphere with comfortable seating in public areas, language access, and programming for kids and teens.

  We have also learned, by studying similar institutions in other cities, that renting out space is a crucial source of revenue that will be essential for subsidizing the community-centered programs and spaces. In order to be sustainable, the Center must be able to accommodate both uses.

  We are currently working to hone and refine the focus of the building’s programming, whether that’s geared toward performing arts, studios, workspace for community nonprofits and cultural institutions, or some combination of all three. You can read more about these options at mapc.org/maldenculture, and we will present our consensus for community feedback at the Courthouse Arts Festival on Saturday, May 14 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. A full draft of the concept plan will be released at the end of May for public comment before it is finalized this summer.

  The concept plan is just the beginning of this project. We are still working to purchase the building from the state, which we hope to do sometime this fall. We are also working to secure funding for a more detailed analysis of the necessary structural improvements and what the business model will look like. The long-term plan is for the City of Malden to own the building and contract with a third-party operator with expertise in managing this kind of facility.

  Once we know more about how much it will cost to retrofit the building, and we have an operator onboard to manage day-to-day operations, we can work on the actual construction. While we have made great strides in this project, we recognize that we have so much more work to do before we can open the doors. It is never going to be too late to get involved in this project so if you are interested, please make sure to check for updates on our website, mapc.org/maldenculture, or reach out to Senior Planner Evan Spetrini at espetrini@cityofmalden.org.

Amanda Linehan
Ward 3 Councillor

Contact Advocate Newspapers