Although “Outside the Box” is scheduled to return to the Boston Common this summer, the event organizer has yet to discuss potential impacts of the free performing arts festival with the Beacon Hill community.
“There have been no meetings or communication, and so far, [the organizer] has declined offers to meet with the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Friends of the Public Garden,” said Colin Zick, chair of the Civic Association’s Parks and Public Spaces Committee and vice chair of the Friends group, which serves as the non-profit stewards of the Public Garden, the Common and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. “Last time, the mayor made it a requirement for him to meet with the community, but apparently, that requirement doesn’t exist anymore.”
Boston philanthropist Ted Cutler brought the inaugural festival to the Common and Government Center Plaza for 10 days in the summer of 2013, while the scaled back, six-day second event will run on the Common from July 14 to 19.
Ryan Woods, director of external affairs for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, wrote that the city had asked the permit requester to meet with the community in anticipation of the unprecedented event two years ago, but officials are now aware of the festival’s scope and subsequently granted the organizer a permit for a reduced time-period.
While no city policy currently requires the event planner to meet with community organizations, Woods wrote that the Parks Department would “gladly meet with the community to discuss any concerns they have for any event held in one of Boston’s parks.”
Woods also said the city has received a commitment from the organizer to restore the Common after the festival, just as it did following the inaugural event per the permit requirements.
While Zick is relieved that a shorter festival will likely have less of an impact on the Common, he still point out that Boston lacks an adequate fairground to stage large events, away from historic parkland.
He also still hopes to meet with the event organizer to discuss how impacts can be mitigated and ultimately addressed afterwards.
“Even if it’s not a requirement, wouldn’t it be a nice thing to do?” Zick asked.
A representative for the event organizer could not be immediately reached for comment.