On April 15, 2013, everything about public space in Boston changed. As a Boston institution went from inspirational and innocent to devastated, the security industry in Boston saw opportunity. In addition to the cameras and regulations already in place, new technologies were tested and adapted by the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police. Former Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis went to Capitol Hill to vouch for similar programs across the nation, while also adding that they must go forward in a Constitutional matter. In his written testimony, Davis said, “I do not endorse actions that move Boston and our nation into a police state mentality, with surveillance cameras attached to every light pole in the city.”
Citizens of Boston questioned everything from the high level of surveillance in public to the type of art allowed in public areas. The checkpoints and ban on bags would make lines longer while the highest level of security continues to be seen at every large event in the city. Still, it is a given that most would rather feel safe than feel there’s the slightest chance that their expectations of recreation could be met with terror.
Last July, after planning on once again holding its annual India Independence Day festival at the Hatch Shell, the India Association of Greater Boston (IAGB) announced that the festival, set for August, had been moved to Andover High School. An article in India New England earlier this year stated that, “This year's event may cost the non-profit organization up to $60,000 as compared with approximately $25,000 in past years. IAGB has raised funds in the past through advertising, sponsorships and selling booths at Hatch Shell.” The article continued, “After the Boston Marathon bombing last year, the rules and regulations for holding large public events in Boston have changed with new requirements for additional costs for added security.” According to a survey, which went out last month in the newspaper asking readers and members of the community to decide the fate of this year’s celebration, 67 percent preferred the event stay at the Hatch Shell. Of those who answered the survey, 29 percent would give donations. The event is still about a month away, set for Aug. 17, and a decision should be expected soon.
This year’s calendar sees few events at the Hatch Shell that actually use the venue. The “Free Friday Flicks” series continues this summer with films such as “Beetlejuice” and “The Goonies.” Other than “Zumba on the Esplanade,” the only continuing event this year is the Boston Landmarks Orchestra series which has seven dates this summer.
“Every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. starting July 16 and going through August 27,” according to Harron Ellenson, Executive Director of the Landmarks Orchestra. “We are totally free. Even though they are free to the audience they are not free to produce. They're funded by foundations and corporations and individuals. We are constantly in fundraising mode in order to raise enough money to produce a really fabulous event at the Hatch Shell,” she said.
Ellenson and her colleagues have sought to unite diverse Boston with “the common language of music,” by holding some of the few free to-the-public music events in the city that don’t take place in Allston basements or in MBTA stations. A real, live orchestra in a beautiful setting is exactly what Maria Hatch had in mind when she wanted a public beauty spot. However, the need for security today may be overshadowing the need of 1930s Boston.
We have a promise from our government to keep us safe.
“In the past, before the marathon bombing, our security costs were only under $2000 a concert,” said Ellenson. “Now they run, with all the extra things that you have to do because of it, around $12,000.” She described some of the apparent changes such as the addition of around twenty bag-checkers, additional state police detail, and funds for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to put up fencing around the area.