Boston Music News, Music

The EMF Occupation of Harvard Square – What’s Next?

A Resource Guide & Photo Gallery to keep you up with the latest on EMF


EMF Artists Occupation of Harvard Square 6/16

EMF studios was a practice space for artists, musicians, filmmakers and a slew of other creative types that arguably made Central Sq. Cambridge the artists’ hub this side of the river in the Boston scene. Over the past few months there has been an uproar in the arts community over the sudden eviction of tenants of EMF Studios by John DiGiovanni, sitting President of the Harvard Square Business Association as well as the property’s owner. As shock & ensuing displacement of tenants reverberated through Cambridge, Boston & further still out to the city suburbs of Malden & Medford, rising out of these ashes is the ‘Cambridge Artists Coalition‘ leading the charge to fight for city-wide artists’ representation against the torrent of gentrification.

As State Representative Mike Connolly stated however, ‘…I think we all understand that what John DiGiovanni is doing unfortunately is probably legal, there is no immediate legal thing we can do within the law… but just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.’

Speaking with folks on the street level at this protest, I found that the instance of EMF’s removal was emblematic of a much larger problem happening city-wide which is the manipulative, strong-arm tactics of the real estate industry, a symptom of a much larger, multi-faceted problem of gentrification.

This past Saturday, June 16th, EMF artists & musicians and the beginnings of the Cambridge Artists Coalition occupied Brattle Square as a counter protest to the Harvard Square Business Association’s ‘Make Music Festival’.

Starting at 3pm musicians began playing & speakers as diverse as longtime musicians, State Representatives, & active musicians stated their claims & pointed arguments. These claims and aruments were espoused at the rally Saturday & previously at town hall efforts as well. The main actions and demands as described by the Cambridge Artists Coalition are as follows:

1. Mr. DiGiovanni Must return EMF to the community by selling it to the city of Cambridge.

2. The City of Cambridge must purchase the building.

3. Mr. DiGiovanni must refund the 12-months of rent he collected from EMF tenants while they existed under what he himself called ‘unsafe conditions’ & a ‘deathtrap’.

4. The Harvard Square Business Association (HSBA) should remove Mr. DiGiovanni from his position of power within the organization if he does not comply with these demands.

Link Resource Guide:

All Photographs by the Author

Video’s Courtesy of Steve Onderick

Research & Links Courtesy of Cambridge Artists Coalition, DigBoston & Olivia Deng


Chris Hughes //// is a poet & writer from Boston, Ma & music editor of //// They can be reached at [email protected] or @crsjh_ via instagram & twitter.

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