Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Starlight Square transforms an old parking lot in Central Square into an engaging community space

“Developers worked to create an outdoor amphitheater and open space for multipurpose use so people could come together as a community while maintaining physical distance.”
Julene Derolus
Signs honoring Breonna Taylor at Starlight Square in Cambridge.

Starlight Square, a recently developed community space built from a parking lot within Central Square in Cambridge, has been making its mark on Greater Boston’s small businesses and arts industry.

The ability to connect with others is an experience that the Square had the opportunity to bring to residents. As a result the success brought different cultures, political demonstrations in the form of art and youth groups a space to have a sense of normalcy in the current time that is stressful for many.

COVID-19 has made it much more difficult for artists to perform, create and produce many forms of art and this sense of unfulfillment sparked the idea for a way to bring community together as Michael Monestime, executive director of the Central Square Business Improvement District would best describe the project.

“[There is] no place recognizable as the essential place for civic gathering, community expression, cultural sharing,” said Mark Boyes-Watson, an architect of Starlight Square stated in the press release that was published in the first month of formal planning in July. 

During this time, the Central Square BID proposed the works of a physical space to act in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions. Working alongside ReevX Labs and Installation Partners throughout Boston, the vision of the idea was able to form itself into reality. 

The development was not a one man show as many different organizations close by wanted in on the action. To immerse into the project and create various options for visitors, vendors created different opportunities to showcase several aspects of fields including dance, comedy, seasonal activities and more. 

From here, Starlight Square was born. Developers worked to create an outdoor amphitheater and open space for multipurpose use so people could come together as a community while maintaining physical distance.  

An outdoor stage at Starlight Square. (Julene Derolus)

Upon arrival to the outdoor space, four main walls are formed with intricate and detailed pieces of art created and set up by Street Theory. They have done a tremendous job of visually representing social justice themes and artwork created by independent artists in Greater Boston.

Their website best explains their mission as a creative agency to “pride ourselves in authentic experiences, bringing art and street culture into all aspects of life and work – from curating and producing events to empowering communities and working with some of today’s most talented and influential artists.”

One main focal artwork presented on scene was the “#BreonnaUnderTheStars” as an example of the racial aspects included on the murals. 22 artists were able to capture a piece of important art related to something bigger than themselves in this artwork honoring Breonna. 

The Square has five foundational elements for residents of Boston to utilize. This includes a stage for entertainment, a home for creative arts, an outdoor dining space and a youth center for tutoring. This space can also be used for community groups and a farmer’s market, as well.   

Starlight Square has been useful in creating more options to cater to outdoor dining options. Within the space provided, tables are set up so nearby restaurants, such as the Brick and Mortar, can provide outdoor seating options and extended space to make customers feel more comfortable while many businesses have had to shut down permanently because of the pandemic.  

Throughout the summer months and October, The Boston Improv Club collaborated with the venue to provide shows weekly that were aimed to foster laughter, unity and more stage experience for the performers. 

They were able to host stand-up comedy shows in accordance with social distancing and entertainment for free. They also encouraged donations to struggling artists and small businesses to support them during this tough time of uncertainty.   

At an Oct. 21 performance of stand-up comedy, a troupe of comedians joined the stage to perform for a crowd. They created jokes that incorporated suggestions, ideas and nouns from the audience to correspond with the humor they created on the spot. 

Their talent in keeping storylines going and creating unique plots to make the crowd – and themselves – laugh was incredibly creative. The tech crew provided guided lights and a pianist was alongside the stage to set the scene and make moments dramatic by fitting the music to the jokes that were being told.  

In the amphitheater, groups were seated according to size of separate attendees and lettered chairs were prepared upon check-in and separated by levels set up and sectioned like a normal concert or auditorium event. People of all ages came together, as the jokes were appealing to all. 

Other events that were popular during October were dance classes hosted by Dance Complex members. They were able to offer culturally based dance classes for any level from beginner to advanced. A few examples were Haitian folkloric, contemporary and Afro dance.  

The variety of options that helped participants feel a sense of comfort and togetherness was astounding. Starlight Square was able to create this “intervention,” as they called it, from the ground up despite COVID-19 limitations to having options that can make social interaction engaging and possible.

The past three months have seen a lot of opportunities for companies to use this location as a vending opportunity for business on certain weekdays. The Farmer’s Market that normally runs in Central Square was still available to have fresh food to be provided to the public.

The vision to create an environment that held a greater purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic was successfully implemented at Starlight Square by the hands of many passionate and creative people looking to make a difference. The simple idea to reframe how to handle social isolation served to be useful to a mass and utilized by many with the creation of Starlight Square.

The closing of Starlight Square and return to a regular lot will be finished by Nov.15, so make sure to visit before then. 


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Starlight Square transforms an old parking lot in Central Square into an engaging community space