The reopening process continues, Bluebikes offer free rides to vaccine appointments, and the Somerville Arts Council makes spaces available to artists
Welcome to the Somerville Wire’s April 20 Weekly Roundup—a fast look at local news published every Tuesday at somervillewire.news. Readers with Somerville-focused news tips or press releases or calendar items or letter and opinion submissions can send them to Wire staff at email@example.com. Or call us at (617) 209-9511.
Check out the Somerville News Garden’s new public affairs TV show—jointly produced with the Somerville Media Center! Our first episode is a lively debate on the pros and cons of opening restaurants faster in Somerville. It can also be seen on SCATV Cable Channel 3: Mondays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 9:30 am, Thursdays at 11:30 am, and Fridays at 5:30 pm.
Advocates say additions to benches in the Davis Square T stop send a striking message to the homeless.
Embracing new circumstances, the event still allows an inside look at how art is created.
Additional outdoor performances, retail can resume
On April 19, more types of outdoor performances and outdoor retail resumed in Somerville. This next step of the reopening process came with the new availability of the coronavirus to all residents over the age of 16. The City is also working with gyms to form a plan to reopen changing rooms and showers.
Outdoor performances that could “cause moderate aerosol spread, including theater, comedy, and spoken word performances, will be allowed under guidelines previously established for outdoor performances.” There are some restrictions for outdoor retailers, as described by a press release:
- Flea markets must apply for a public event permit through CitizenServe.
- Individual retailers must apply for a permit through CitizenServe.
- Artists without a storefront have the option to work with an existing business to set up in front of its store and go through the individual retailer process or follow the flea market process to set up shop in a public space.
Bluebikes supports free rides to vaccination sites
Beginning on April 19, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has been sponsoring free Bluebikes bike rides on the way to and back from vaccination visits, provided that the sites are located within the Bluebikes system. A press release stated that “equitable access to vaccines” is an important issue for the company. Free rides will be available in Somerville, as well as other cities, such as Boston, Arlington, Cambridge, Everett, and Revere.
“Bluebikes is an important part of our public transportation system in Boston, particularly during the pandemic,” said Boston Mayor Kim Janey. “We’re grateful for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ support in encouraging every Bostonian to get vaccinated.”
To access bikes for free, users can open the Bluebikes app on their phones and use the codes “BLUEVAX1” and “BLUEVAX2” for their two separate appointments. The codes unlock an Adventure Pass that allows for free unlimited two-hour rides for a 24-hour period. There will also be complimentary valets at Bluebikes stations near the Hynes Convention Center and the Reggie Lewis Center, beginning on April 26. In addition, associates will offer “expanded docking and bike availability to make coming and going easier.”
Somerville Arts Council’s Art Assembled project moves forward
The Somerville Arts Council (SAC) is moving forward with Art Assembled: In partnership with Assembly Row, vacant retail storefronts will be used as spaces for artists, particularly those in the performing arts.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure we get at least a 60-day window to be able to go in and utilize storefront space and ultimately make it available for the community,” said SAC Executive Director Greg Jenkins. “At the beginning, we mentioned that it was [for] a range of things, but to a certain extent, it really can’t serve as a music practice space, because there’s resonance typically above those stores. It’s mostly for movement, dance, theater, and multimedia work. It’s not necessarily meant for individual visual artists either… We’re really trying to activate it through more performance based art.”
Jenkins said that Project Lead Callie Chapman has selected a cohort of about 10 people, and they are trying to get that group “up and running.” On a trial, the artists will be given six hours a week to work in the space. Chapman said that they conducted a few surveys, asking questions about people’s practices, their needs, and who they are. The first priority was that the people chosen be Somerville artists, and the second was that they not make too much noise. They are also allowed to use a portable sprung dance floor provided by the Boston Dance Alliance, giving dancers a safe space to practice. From the surveys, they pulled people who fulfilled those three conditions.
“The 60 days is the window for which we know we have a space,” said Chapman. “… Within that time frame, with the assets and the amenities that we’re giving the artists—which is like the dance floor and sound system—the artists get to book time. What they do with that time is up to them, as long as they follow within policy. So we don’t know yet. I’m excited to see what they’re going to do with it. But it’s really open to meeting artists where they are at, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the space itself.”
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.