Recently, Matthew Teitelbaum, the Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, sent an open letter to the community. We are inspired to include it here in its entirety. We are reminded of the richness that is the FENWAY CULTURAL DISTRICT - and how it has strengthened, comforted, and inspired us for over 150 years. From the respite found in the beautifully-designed Emerald Necklace park system winding its way through the heart of Boston, to the cultural riches now on view (virtually) at the MFA (we encourage you to visit the Jean-Michel Basquiat materials from the exhibition "Writing the Future" available online at the MFA WEBSITE ) - this is part of Boston's own cultural heritage and we turn to them again and again during these periods of crisis - now more so than ever.

We are heartened by the ways that our Fenway Alliance members are stepping up to meet these challenging times. We are sharing their stories here through this weekly email newsletter and on our social media as a reminder of all that is available to us during this period and all that awaits us when this period ends, which as all things do, will. From our world-class universities to our internationally renowned art + cultural institutions, we are here for you now and will be here for you into the future. - The Fenway Alliance, Managers of the Fenway Cultural District
“The park throughout is a single work of art, and as such subject to the primary law of every work of art, namely that it shall be framed upon a single noble motive…to produce a certain influence in the minds of people and through this to make life in the city healthier and happier. The character of this influence is a poetic one.”
-Frederick Law Olmsted

Dear Friends,

In recent weeks, while social distancing and wearing masks, my wife and I have taken a number of walks around Jamaica Pond. It is a restorative experience, giving back to us our sense of connectedness to things, and reminding us of our reciprocity with the natural world.

Jamaica Pond is, however, more than a park; it’s a majestic expression of a great artist, Frederick Law Olmsted. It’s part of  Boston’s Emerald Necklace,   the series of green spaces designed by Olmsted that reaches from Boston Common to the Back Bay Fens—the breathtaking park at the Museum’s entrance on the Fenway—to the Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, and the Arnold Arboretum, extending all the way to Franklin Park.

Best known for designing New York’s Central Park, Olmsted planned and advocated for natural spaces across America in the mid-to-late 19th century (spending his last 20 years in Brookline), reinventing the idea that parks as public spaces give “the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.” His purposefully reconstructed landscapes were meant to create “a utility” in the spirit of art. Olmsted thought they provided balance to everyday life in industrialized America, and considered them pastoral compositions (like a watercolor by Ruskin or  Turner ) with “considerable complexity of light and shadow near the eye, or obscurity of detail further away.”

Olmsted’s commitment to reinvent what was around him, and to imagine something different from what had come before, is inspiring to me. I am reminded that in times of challenge, the spirit of the artist—commitment, innovation, illumination—will always guide us.

Matthew Teitelbaum, MFA Director

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Earth Week is the annual celebration of the Emerald Necklace parks, the natural world around us and the many benefits of living with green space. Today, as parks remain among the few places we can enjoy outside the home, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy is especially grateful for their timelessness and access for all. This Earth Week, join the ENC in saying #ThanksOlmsted  for this timeless gift: a park system of 1,100 acres that lets us spread out and immerse ourselves in nature, cleans our air and water, diminishes flooding and, above all, gives us welcome respite.
The Emerald Necklace Conservancy continues its essential work in the parks: putting out dozens of park signs to encourage safe use and access to park maps, completing a major tree pruning project and creating and compiling tools and activities for you to enjoy from home,  from scavenger hunts to symphonies This Earth Week, help the ENC reach more neighbors with tips for spreading out and finding new park destinations, maintain a safe and vibrant landscape and ensure a thriving community resource for all. Your parks — and thousands of people depending on them in this critical time — thank you. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy
"Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the nation’s first public, independent art and design college. This year marks the 31st anniversary of MassArt’s signature annual benefit art auction. This event features an extraordinary array of artwork that continues to attract the most discerning collectors. MassArt Auction proceeds go to scholarships and support for academic programs that directly benefit our most important asset – our students. Perhaps this year more than ever, your support of the 2020 Auction is even more important, as we address the unique needs of our students, faculty, and the greater artistic community who are navigating uncharted territory during these challenging times."

The 2020 MassArt Auction opens for bidding on April 10, 2020 at 12 PM EDT.
The Gardner Museum has made the difficult decision to cancel programs and events through September 14, 2020 in the best interests and safety of visitors, creative partners collaborators, staff, and community. In the spirit of sharing more ways to experience the Museum from home, the Gardner has announced the launch of its new blog,  Inside the Collection . Here you’ll find in-depth looks at some of the untold stories about the Museum’s collection and history, straight from curators and experts. Check it out to learn about Isabella’s attendance at the unveiling of the Civil War Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in 1897, or meet Teobaldo “Bolgi” Travi, the first (and, at that time, only) guard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
FENWAY CARES is an initiative from the Fenway Alliance in partnership with a collective of Fenway community organizations (Fenway Community Center, Fenway CDC, Fenway Civic Association, Operation P.E.A.C.E./Peterborough Senior Center) and residents seeking to coordinate support for Fenway Community members in need. 

If you are in need of assistance, would like to help the community in some way, own a business and would like to share information about hours, etc, or have resources to share with the neighborhood, please fill out the Fenway Cares Intake form and we will be in touch to connect you with the right people and organizations.
P lease take time to fill out the 2020 Census online , available in 13 languages. For web pages and guides in 59 languages including ASL + Braille, visit language support . It has never been more important that every Bostonian is counted. Information collected helps determine billions of dollars in federal funds to our communities for emergency response, schools, roads, and other public services for the next 10 years. Spread the word on social media using #2020Census and #BostonCounts
The City of Boston, in partnership with Nesterly , has announced it's new program Good Neighbors. This program coordinates those most vulnerable to COVID-19 with volunteer neighbors who will provide f ree deliveries and friendly check-ins. To request a good neighbor, click here.
We have continued to monitor conditions related to the COVID crisis, and with input from local representatives, we have decided to delay our June 20th event. We're working on selecting our fall date, and believe that a free event that highlights musicians and the Fenway community is more important now than ever. If you have any questions or are interested in volunteering or sponsorship, please reach out. We are very much looking forward to coming together for the 3rd Annual Fenway Porchfest! Fenway Porchfest Team: Fenway Civic Association ; Fenway Community Development Corporation ; Fenway Alliance.
Did you know that there are over 50 state-designated Cultural Districts throughout the Commonwealth? Our umbrella advocacy & funding organization, the Massachusetts Cultural Council , has been hosting virtual meet ups for the Districts to share resources & community during this unprecedented period. As managers of the FENWAY CULTURAL DISTRICT , we have decided to highlight our sister Districts and ways they are addressing the challenge of providing culture, art, and community in innovative ways during this time.
The Arlington Cultural District will be hosting Virtual 5 O'Clock Stories , a 5:00 story time and sing along for kids hosted by Fox and Robbins Librarians. For more from the Arlington Cultural District, click here .
The Boston Resiliency Fund Boston's fundraising and philanthropic fund to provide essential services to Boston residents and to assist first responders and critical care providers.
The Boston Artist Relief Fund . The fund will award grants of $500 and $1,000 to individual artists who live in Boston whose creative practices & incomes are being adversely impacted.
The Boston Music Makers Relief Fund provides financial relief to Boston area music makers experiencing lost income as the result of performance cancellations related to COVID-19. Small grants of up to $200 will be paid rapidly on a first come, first served basis.
Boston Dance Alliance's Dance Relief Fund distributes stipends of $250 to assist with immediate basic needs. The fund will disburse grants on a first-come, first-served basis until April 15, 2020 or until all donations are exhausted.
Follow the Fenway Alliance on Instagram and Facebook for timely updates from city of Boston, our community partners, and member institutions.