Designing a moment in time : First Night and Boston's public spaces
Author(s)Stone, Ben (Ben Joshua)
First Night at Boston's public spaces
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
John de Monchaux.
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From the international Olympic Games to small-scale neighborhood street festivals, ephemeral events produce profound effects on the image of their host cities; in turn, these cities' images influence the character of the ephemeral events produced within the public realm. Boston's annual New Year's Eve celebration, First Night Boston, is among a small group of ephemeral events that significantly contribute to the image of the city. This thesis contains an analysis of the successes, failures, and challenges faced by First Night Boston over the past three decades. Through an analysis of First Night's financial records, event siting, attendance, programming, and in-depth qualitative interviews with key informants, I examine the growth of First Night Boston from a grassroots New Year's Eve celebration on and around Boston Common to one of the largest New Year's Eve events in the world, and the subsequent scaling back of the celebration after the millennium. I trace how First Night's constituency and mission has changed throughout this process, specifically focusing on how changes in funders' priorities and shifting interpretations of First Night's four pillars have caused First Night's programming to become dominated by community arts groups and youth artists rather than professional artists and performers. I frame this discussion by profiling other cities' First Night celebrations and several of Boston's other ephemeral events.(cont) My appraisal of First Night's strengths and shortcomings equips me to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the celebration as it grapples with an expected expansion towards the Boston Harbor waterfront. I provide recommendations regarding how such an expansion can be designed to maximize the quality of the celebration. Specifically, First Night should take advantage of the new Rose Kennedy Greenway, use outdoor programming to control attendees' movement throughout the celebration and to draw them towards indoor venues, engage the local cultural institutions and artist community in programming and planning for the expansion of First Night. I argue that First Night's organizers should reframe the upcoming expansion as an exercise in urban planning and design in which the network of indoor and outdoor venues and interstitial spaces are considered holistically, rather than considering events individually.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2008.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.