Calling artists, performers, and other cultural creators! Join the Winchester Cultural Council's online directory of artists by completing our registration form.

Winchester's Cultural Blossoming: Money Available—Seeking Ideas

The future looks bright for the arts and culture in Winchester. But what will that future hold? Come learn how to be part of it—get a grant next year to support your own project—and share your ideas for how we could make Winchester a more culturally vibrant community.

The Winchester Cultural Council is holding a community meeting on Wednesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. in the large meeting room at the town library that will include a grant-writing workshop and a forum for community comments about how best to support the arts and culture in the future. All are welcome.

Get a Grant

Every year, Massachusetts distributes money to the 329 local cultural councils throughout the state, to be given away as grants that support local cultural activities. The deadline for applications is October 15 of each year. This year, thanks to strong support from our local legislators Michael Day, Jason Lewis, and Pat Jehlen, as well as from Governor Charlie Baker, grant funding has been increased.

The Winchester Cultural Council reviews the grant applications after the deadline and decides by the end of the year what and how much to fund. Details are elsewhere on this web site. At Wednesday's meeting, WCC members will give tips for writing a good proposal and will answer questions about grant requirements and local priorities.

Winchester's Cultural Future

This year there have been some exciting new cultural developments in Winchester.

  • For the first time, the town of Winchester approved a small but important amount in the town budget for the Cultural Council. How should the WCC best use that funding?
  • On August 27, the Winchester Cultural District was approved. The district provides a framework for possible future programing and also, through its governing partnership, connects the cultural, business, and government organizations in town.

How should we take advantage of this good fortune? Should start a new program, improve infrastructure, or just do more of what we're already doing? Do neighboring communities have ideas we could adopt?

Past suggestions have included.

  • Creating a Winchester Porchfest
  • Better information about cultural activities in town: signs, notices, online resources
  • More opportunities in town for visual artists to display their work
  • More collaborations between the artist community and local businesses (like Art in August)
  • A records preservation project (see Mass Memories and the Legacy Winchester project)
  • Activities to encourage greater involvement by all members of the community:
    • Youth and students
    • Seniors
    • Members of all cultural groups, both new to town and long-time residents
  • Long-term planning for culture.

"Culture" includes visual arts, crafts, music, dance, theater, photography and video, books and literature, history, and far more. Are there areas that need more support?

Come to the meeting, share your ideas, and learn how to contribute to our bright cultural future!

The Winchester Cultural Council invites applications from organizations, schools and individuals of all ages for grants that support cultural activities in the community. Those activities can include performances, workshops, lectures, exhibits, festivals, short-term artist residencies, historical preservation, or other artistic projects and activities in Winchester.

Projects should have a local sponsor; local artists and performers are especially encouraged to apply. Past programs supported by WCC grants include Art in August, Authorfest, the Just a Minute Film Festival, a film about Col. Winchester, concerts on the Common and at Wright-Locke Farm, a classical Indian dance performance, and arts programming in schools.

The deadline for applications is October 15, 2019. Funding decisions will be made and applicants notified by mid-January 2020.

Note that:

  • Applicants may be individuals; incorporated private nonprofit organizations; unincorporated associations (a group of individuals) with a nonprofit objective; public schools, libraries, or other municipal agencies; and religious organizations (for cultural programming that is available to the general public and does not have the effect of advancing religion).
  • Projects must be in the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences, provide a public benefit (generally should be open to the public), and be non-discriminatory.  
  • Grant funds received from a Local Cultural Council may not be used to purchase food or beverages.
  • Grant projects must take place during the calendar year for which the grant is given (i.e., during 2020).
  • If the project's budget is greater than $500, preference is given to applications with outside funding or in-kind donations that are equal to or greater than the amount requested of the WCC, and documented in the application.

More program details can be found on the Massachusetts Cultural Council website

All applications are submitted online; click the following link to access the online application.

For more information, please write us at

The Town of Winchester is writing a Master Plan that will guide development and community life for the next 10 years and beyond. The plan will have a big effect on our lives, and represents an exciting opportunity to both solve today's persistent problems and create a more beautiful town for tomorrow. Planning allows us to get the most out of what we do, and identify new things to do that can improve our lives as a community.

The previous Master Plan was written more than 65 years ago, and the lack of guidance for all that time has caused some problems.

The planning process has been underway for about year, and is now in its most important phase: Community Engagement. The plan will be based entirely on comments from those people who speak up before the deadline, which is currently on Town Day, June 1. Now is the time to point out any problems or to suggest any issues to address or new directions for the town to go.

The Winchester Town Common Task Force is sponsoring a meeting on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 pm at Winchester High School, Rooms B118 & B119, where people can learn about the Master Plan and join the planning. More information about the meeting is on the Town Common website.

Planning for Culture

How can Winchester promote a thriving arts community? How can we better preserve the historical and cultural treasures that we now possess? The 2018 focus groups identified several concerns.

Other suggestions might include

  • A high-quality performance and gathering space downtown for the many theater, music, dance, and other performance groups now competing for the few school and church venues available. The auditorium could also host public lectures and other meetings. A downtown location is easiest for transportation and would increase activity in the business district.
  • More venues for creating and sharing visual arts and crafts, especially downtown—similar to Art in August and Art at the Market
  • Town arts festivals, similar to the West Medford Open Studios and to Arlington PorchFest
  • Promoting and activating the new Winchester Cultural District
  • Adding art to public spaces, particularly as a part of any renovation or new construction.
    • Any renovation of the two Winchester Commuter Rail stations should include an arts/culture component with local involvement
    • All development with in the Winchester Cultural District should be reviewed for possible arts components
  • Better ways to inform residents about cultural events, including designated signage downtown
  • Better connections between school arts communities and the greater Winchester cultural community.
  • More resources for the Town Archives to preserve, collect, and display records and artifacts from our history.
  • Transportation links between downtown and satellite cultural centers, including the Winchester Community Music School, Sanborn House, Wright Locke Farm, and the Next Door Theater (next door to Kidstock and the Ballet Arts Center)
  • Planning for the future of the cultural institutions in town, including the Town Library and the many private and volunteer organizations that give Winchester its creative soul.

Planning for the Future

Just as past plans focused road construction, the current plan should prioritize plans to modernizing the digital infrastructure of the town. It should

  • Modernize the way the Town communicates to, and interacts with, residents and other partners. The Town website should be replaced with new system that includes a comprehensive communication strategy. The current system is obsolete, cumbersome, and not suited for the way people use electronic media.
  • Include an electronic records archive program, similar to the Winchester Legacy Project
  • Consider ways to expand Internet connectivity within the town, by increasing the number of service providers and possibly offering free wifi.

Take Action!

Come to the meeting and share your ideas and your vision! There are many other ways to contribute; visit the discussion site at and see the town website's Master Plan status page for more information.


The Winchester Cultural Council has awarded $5,200 in LCC grants to 10 individuals and organizations for 2019. The funded projects expand cultural opportunities for Winchester’s students, help Winchester residents hear distinguished local performers, and use art to celebrate and strengthen our community. Projects include Indian Dance and Peking Opera; the extremely successful Authorfest program that brings published authors to Winchester schools; a new monthly studio arts series in a collaborative community space which is free and open to anyone in Winchester; and a program in March with WZLX radio DJ and author Carter Alan on his new book, which includes performances by several rock ensembles from the Winchester Community Music School. In addition, funding supports continuing the summer Concerts on the Common, the "Just a Minute" online video festival, and arts and literacy enrichment programs.

On this Columbus Day, many are urging that we also remember America's indigenous people, the "Indians." Winchester has an explicit connection to the original residents of our area through our town nickname, the Sachems. A sachem (or sagamore) was a chief, leader, or king of the native peoples. Winchester's adoption of the name was particularly due to a woman, "Squaw Sachem," who was queen of the local indigenous tribes and the widow of Nanepashemet, who once ruled lands stretching from Weymouth north to Portsmouth, N.H., and as far west as Northfield. Sachem Nanepashemet was killed  in 1619, in Medford, fighting Tarratines (Abnakis) who had invaded from Maine, leaving his wife, three sons, and a daughter.

Squaw Sachem and her sons were notably friendly with the English colonists and generally allied with them. Her people, however, were decimated by war and plagues mostly associated with the European settlers—including smallpox, which killed two of her sons, Sagamore John (Wonohaquaham) and Sagamore James (Montowampate) in 1633.

In 1638 Charlestown granted its citizens permission to settle land to the north, including Winchester, accelerating a movement that had already been occurring. Around that time Squaw Sachem sold her land in and around Winchester to settlers, reserving the right for her people to live, hunt and fish there during her lifetime. The sale is memorialized by the WPA mural above the circulation desk in the Winchester Public Library.

Squaw Sachem mural
Squaw Sachem mural at the Winchester Library

Squaw Sachem's favorite residence was probably on the west side of Upper Mystic Lake, near Winchester Country Club, where there was a "Squaw Sachem spring" that was visited by her people for many years after  her death. Herbert Meyer Brook on Myopia Hill was originally known as "Squaw Sachem stream."

The story of Squaw Sachem is a great lesson in local history, and is one illustration of the complex interactions between the native inhabitants and the immigrants who went on to create our modern landscape—laying the groundwork for the many new immigrants who continue to arrive here. It is interesting, too, to note that Winchester's "native American" nickname memorializes a relationship with a particular individual, a relationship that was notable for peace and friendship. Finally, in this day and age, it is worth celebrating that that individual was a woman—one of power, grace and fortitude.

More information about Squaw Sachem and the selection of the "Sachems" nickname (which dates only from the early 1950s) can be found at "The Sachems of Winchester" on the Popular Topics in Winchester History page on the town website.

The Winchester  Cultural Council has awarded $5,583 in LCC grants to 10 individuals and organizations for 2018. The funded projects expand cultural opportunities for Winchester’s young students and senior citizens, help Winchester residents hear distinguished local performers, and use art to celebrate and strengthen our community. Projects include a documentary film, "The Greening of Winchester"; two special events at the Jenks Center; a classical Indian dance performance in the fall; the Family Farm Night Music Series at Wright-Locke Farm on summer Thursday nights; a family concert on the Common by by Roger Tincknell; special puppet shows at the Farmer's Market's International Day in September; arts enrichment programs for children at Lincoln School and those attending after-school programs; and the Mass. Memories Road Show on October 20.
The Winchester Cultural Council is in need of new members for the coming year. Cultural Council members are volunteers who are appointed by the town's Select Board; love of the arts is important, but no special skills are required. The Council meets monthly, gives cultural grants annually, and provides many opportunities to enrich our town. To apply, send a letter stating your interest to the Select Board at Town Hall.