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Block Quotes

A public art initiative designed to both inspire and strengthen community.

We printed inspiring quotations from local authors on signs across the City. We also placed a phone number on each sign. If you called it, you would hear the author reading their quote.

Why we did this

Mayor Walsh wanted to place more works by local artists in public spaces, especially spaces linked to the work itself. We believe local, provocative art placed in interesting places can be inspirational for residents.

The experiment

Our hypothesis? By showing quotations of local authors in public, we can inspire residents of a neighborhood. We’ll also strengthen the sense of community and neighborhood values.

ReadBoston partnership

We partnered with ReadBoston to create an initial pilot program. The decision was made to start small, so we launched as part of the Boston Book festival. ReadBoston reached out to local authors and asked them for inspirational quotes they had written. These quotes were then printed on signs.

Getting the message

However, we wanted to create even more engagement with the project. We included a unique City phone number on each sign. If a person called that number, a message from the author would play. That message included the author reading their quote. After the message played, the caller would then have the chance to leave a message of their own. This gave us great feedback.

Boston Book Festival

For the pilot, we displayed signs on lamp posts in front of the Boston Public Library. With the Boston Book Festival happening there, we knew that there would be a lot of foot traffic. We’re now planning the second pilot, which will focus on a specific neighborhood. This time, residents will choose the quotes they like best, and where they should hang.

Results and lessons learned

Short but successful

We had 19 callers call in to hear messages from the authors. That was more than we expected for such a small, short pilot.

Round 2

Thanks to this success, we have plans underway to do a larger, second pilot program later this year, or next.

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