• About the Project
  • Indicators: what we track
    What is Civic Vitality?
    Civic vitality reflects a community’s connectedness and bonds of trust, or social capital, created through neighborliness, friendship, kinship, civil discourse and collaboration. These are strengthened by places to gather, open access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, effective leadership and philanthropic giving -- although these same assets can be used to exclude outsiders.


    What is Cultural Life & the Arts?
    The Cultural Life & the Arts sector reflect a community’s cultural vibrancy –it includes all of its diverse ethnic traditions and festivals, opportunities for art and music making and enjoyment, venues for the performing and visual arts, architectural heritage, museums and public art.


    What is the Economy?
    An economy is the sum total of an area’s production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services resulting from investments of labor and financial capital in the use of that area’s natural, human and technological resources.  


    What is Education?
    Education is the process by which skills, knowledge and values are transmitted from teacher to student while, at the same time, each student’s potential to think and act logically, creatively and critically is being developed.  


    What is Environment & Energy?
    The environment encompasses an area’s natural resources – land, air, fresh and marine water, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and the commercial and recreational uses they support – and their intersection with energy sources for and emissions from transportation, commerce, industry and home heating and cooling systems, along with the local effects of global climate change.


    What is Health?
    For an individual, health is physical and mental freedom from acute illness, chronic disease and injury reflecting a good diet, adequate exercise, environmental and behavioral safety and genetic good luck. Individual health outcomes are greatly affected by socio-economic and community-level factors such as access to affordable healthy food, opportunities for exercise, recreation, supportive relationships, degree of exposure to environmental toxins and unsafe conditions, and the quality of one’s education and housing.


    What is Housing?
    Housing meets the basic human need for shelter; for most households it is a major expense or investment that can lead to economic security or insecurity. Housing is also a fundamental building block of livable, vibrant communities and, when blighted it is a source of community destabilization.


    What is Public Safety?
    Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime.
    What is Technology?
    Technology is the development and use of tools, methods and skills to achieve a goal. From arrowheads and the control of fire to ploughs, wheels, engines and computer chips, new technologies change our relationship to the natural world and to the ways in which we live, work, connect and create. 


    What is Transportation?

    Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods – from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.


    Crosscut Topics
    Boston Neighborhoods
    Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  
    Children & Youth

    Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.

    Competitive Edge

    The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building.  With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic  and diversified knowledge economy.

    Fiscal Health
    This cross-cut filter measures fiscal health in several ways: by tracking municipal, state and federal funding as well as levels of philanthropic giving to the nonprofit sector.  In a high-cost city such as Boston, the financial health of individuals and families is another important measure of the fiscal stability and health of the region.
    Race & Ethnicity
    Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status.  People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement.
    Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity.  Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc.  All of these factors increase the quality of life.

    View the Entire Framework
    Complete Framework

    The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region.  The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.

    View the Complete Framework of Indicators

  • Reports: in-depth analysis
    City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

    The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.

    Read Our Past Publications Chronicling Boston from 2000-2009

    The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region.  These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.

    The Measure of Poverty: A Boston Indicators Project 2011 Special Report

    The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011.  Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty.  The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.

  • Snapshots & Briefs: quick reviews
    Neighborhoods & Planning Districts

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.

    City of Boston

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    Metro Boston Region
    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) region includes 101 cities and towns. Learn about the region.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about the MAPC region.

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.

  • Tools & Resources: find what you need
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.

    Explore our digital library, which archives research reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, blog posts, media coverage, and more about Boston, the region, nation and world.  Search all by using our sector and crosscut topics as filters.
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.

    What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet?  The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world.

    Nominate a breakthrough!

  • Shape of the City: Boston's future
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    Greater Boston's Emerging Civic Agenda, created by hundreds of experts, policy makers and community stakeholders over ten years, offers as set of coherent data-driven strategies to move the region forward.  It is organized in four areas, with goals and measurable milestones.
    A Lifetime of Opportunity
    Organized into six buckets, the Opportunity Index tracks key indicators of mobility across a lifetime.  Developed to initiate and inform conversations on inequality, this tool will evolve along with conversations on economic and social disparities.
Goals & Indicators:
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Economic Impact of Creative Cluster Industries
  • Total Arts-Related Businesses by County
  • Total Arts-Related Employment by County

According to Americans for the Arts, as of 2012 there were nearly 21,000 creative industry enterprises in Massachusetts, employing more than 85,000.  This includes more than 27,000 employed in design, advertising and architecture, more than 14,000 employed in movies, radio or television, and nearly 12,000 performance artists.

Middlesex County in Greater Boston has the most creative businesses with more than 5,600 employing roughly 24,000 followed by Suffolk county—which includes Boston—that has more than 2,600 creative businesses employing almost 22,000.

The nonprofit cultural sector also contributes to the state’s economy.  According to the New England Foundation for the Arts, total direct and indirect employment stemming from nonprofit arts organizations was 42,378 with a total economic impact of $4.765 billion as of 2009.

Cultural Sector Funding by State
  • National Endowment for Arts Grants by State

In FY2012 Massachusetts received $9,199,866 in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, about $3 million more than the Massachusetts Cultural Council received from the state legislature.  In total dollar amount, this was the 5th highest allocation of funding to states behind New York, Minnesota, New Jersey and Maryland.  However, this equates to $1.41 in funding per resident, ranking Massachusetts 12th in per capita funding, well behind leaders Washington DC at $6.68 and Minnesota at $5.59 per capita in FY12.  Overall, Massachusetts was just one of 14 states to have an increase in NEA funding between FY11 and FY12.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Impact on the Local and Regional Tourist Industry
  • Estimated Number of Visitors to Boston and Monetary Impact of Tourism

According to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, 27.4 million people visited Metro Boston in 2011, up 4.1% from 2010, with 21.2 million visiting Boston and Cambridge, up 3.9% from 2010.  The number of foreign travelers to Boston and Cambridge reached 1.25 million, up 5.6% from 2010 with a majority traveling to the region for leisure.  Some 9.9 million visitors attended a major museum or cultural attraction in 2011, up 8.6% from 2010.

Attendance at Major Spectacles and Events
  • Attendance at Cultural Institutions
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Distribution of Arts Organizations in Relation to Child Population
  • Location of Arts Facilities and Children, Boston Neighborhood

Boston continues to have a higher concentration of arts and cultural facilities in the neighborhoods with fewer children.  Conversely, those areas of the city with more children and more families have fewer local options for arts appreciation and activities. 

Boston’s children are highly concentrated in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and East Boston.  However, according to the New England Foundation for the Arts, there are just 59 cultural organization in Roxbury, 115 in Dorchester, 39 in East Boston and 23 in Hyde Park.  By Comparison, there are nearly 300 in Back Bay and the South End and more than 230 in Fenway/Kenmore which are home to fewer of Boston's children

Free or Reduced Price Events or Tickets
  • Public Art Locations

The City of Boston continues to increase access to free and reduced price arts and cultural facilities, organizations and celebrations across all neighborhoods.  The department of Arts, Tourism & Special Events continues to increase awareness of cultural activities in the performing arts, visual arts, parades, feasts and festivals as well as Boston Open Studios with events in twelve of the city's neighborhoods.  

ArtsBoston also provides a comprehensive calendar of free arts and cultural events around Greater Boston and hosts BosTix where discounted tickets to visual and performing arts can be purchased.

ArtsBoston is also currently supporting the ArtsBoston Audience Initiative which will provide comprehensive data on cultural participants and audience members which will help ensure that residents from all neighborhoods have equal opportunity to access the arts.

Universal Access to Arts & Culture
  • Universal Access to Arts & Culture
Universal Design of the city and its buildings is essential to ensuring quality of life for the roughly 12% of Bostonians (about 70,000) with audio, visual, cognitive, ambulatory or self-care difficulties with consideration of needs across life stages.  In the same time, some 5% of children under 18, 9% of the working-age population aged 18 to 64 and 43% of those 65 years and older had some disability.

VSA Massachusetts provides programming and advocacy to promote the involvement of people of all abilities in arts and cultural activities.  Programs include Cool Schools to promote inclusive learning strategies for arts participation in the classroom, Open Door Gallery for artists of all abilities to premiere their work, and Cultural Inclusion that is currently helping 12 organizations to develop inclusive programming.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Diversity of Arts Organizations by Neighborhood
  • Arts Organizations by Type, Boston Neighborhoods

While Downtown and Central Boston have the most arts and cultural destinations, neighborhoods such East Boston, Dochester, Roxbury, Mattapan, Roslindale, and West Roxbury have far fewer.  However, different types of organizations are distributed differently across the city.  The largest number of museums and visual arts organizations are located in Central Boston neighborhoods such as Beacon Hill, the North End and the West End as well as Back Bay and Fenway.  However, ethnic arts organizations and performing arts organizations are well concentrated in the neighborhoods of Boston such as Dorchester, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

Dedicated Artsists Housing Units
  • Artist Housing Units

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Demographically Representative Leadership of Arts Organizations
  • Leadership Diversity Among Cultural Nonprofit Organizations
The most recent data on diversity in the cultural sector comes from a 2007 study by UMASS-Boston’s McCormack Graduate School for Policy Studies that showed racial and gender diversity is high among the 526 Board of Director positions of Massachusetts’ major cultural institutions, and quite closely reflects statewide demographics.  Of those identified, 79% of board members are white, 15% are African American and 3.4% are Asian.  However, Latinos represent only 1.6% of cultural institution board members.  Gender representation on cultural boards is nearly equitable, with men holding 59% of the seats and women with 41% of board positions.
Public Ethnic Celebrations in Boston Neighborhoods
  • Public Ethnic Celebrations in Boston Neighborhoods

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Teachers Dedicated to the Arts in Boston Public Schools
  • BPS Arts Teachers

As of 2010-11, Boston Public Schools employed 170 full-time equivalent arts teachers up from 146 in 2007-08 and 143 in 1009-10.  A majority of BPS schools have fewer than 3 full-time equivalent arts teachers, however Orchard Gardens employed 5 arts teachers, the Curley K-8 employed 6, and Boston Arts Academy--the city's only public high school dedicated to the arts--employed 12 full-time equivalent arts teachers.

Students Receiving In-School Arts Instruction
  • Percent of Students Receiving Weekly Arts Education

Since the launch of the Arts Expansion Initiative in 2009, more than 9,000 additional Boston Public School students received weekly in-school arts education.  As of 2011, 81% of students in kindergarten through grade eight had weekly, year-long arts classes, up from 67% in 2009, and nearly half of all high school students received arts instruction of any kind, up from 26% in 2009. 

Children and Youth Participation in Afterschool Arts Programming
  • Participation in Out of School Arts

Though data on participation does is not currently available, there are more than 100 organizations providing after school arts and cultural programming to youth of all ages according to BostoNavigator.  The greatest number of organizations are located in Dorchester, with nearly 40, followed by a combined 29 in Central Boston, Back Bay and the South End, there were 13 organizations listed in Roxbury, and less than 10 in all other neighborhoods of Boston.  BostoNavigator provides detailed programming information for all of Boston's out-of-school time programs and opportunities.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Designated Funding for the Arts in MA
  • Massachusetts Cultural Council Funding
  • Cultural Facilities Fund

In FY2012 the Massachusetts legislature appropriated $6.2 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council—the fourth consecutive year of funding cuts which has fallen by 52% from the most recent high of $13 million in FY2009.  At its peak, the legislature allocated more than $16 million to the MCC in FY2002.

Funding for the Cultural Facilities Fund was zeroed out in FY2012 for the third consecutive year.  At its inception, the CFF received $13 million from the legislature and it was last funded at $6 million in FY2009.