Annis Whitlow Sengupta, PhD

Director of Arts and Culture

Department: Arts & Culture
Phone: 617-933-0774


Annis Whitlow Sengupta, Director of Arts and Culture, joined MAPC in 2017 with the launch of the Arts & Culture Department at the agency. Annis has helped build the department’s core areas of technical planning support including arts and culture planning, cultural district planning, cultural asset mapping, creative placemaking, creative community development, and cultural economic development. She leads workshops in creative placemaking and coordinates cross-sector conversations that connect arts and culture to other planning disciplines. Annis leads the development of an arts and culture data strategy at the agency and conducts research on regulations, policies, and programs to strengthen the policy and planning conditions that can help arts and culture to thrive.

Annis is currently leading a creative placemaking project for the Downtown Lynn Cultural District in Lynn, Massachusetts that will culminate in public art and a creative placemaking strategy and launching an arts and culture strategy plan for the Hudson Business Improvement District in Hudson, Massachusetts. She recently completed a cultural district plan for Boston’s Latin Quarter, which brought together an interdisciplinary team with expertise in cultural planning, community engagement, and economic development. In addition, Annis provides project support for Historic and Cultural Resources sections of master plans, is supervising a project to map creative economic activity in the region, and directs a variety of arts and culture data initiatives to support municipal and regional project work and expand arts and culture data resources for the region. Annis also contributes content to the Arts & Planning Toolkit based on completed project work.

While at MAPC, Annis has worked on cultural plans for Arlington, the Beverly Arts District in Beverly, and creative placemaking in Rockland. She has supported or led four creative placemaking workshops. In addition, she coordinated a learning journey to Seattle, Washington in 2018 attended by 25 local, regional, and state staff and elected and appointed officials, who witnessed the impact of integrating arts, culture, and equity into planning practices.

Prior to joining MAPC, Annis worked for over eight years for Community Partners Consultants, a locally based consultancy where she was a Senior Planner. Her clients at Community Partners included municipalities and arts organizations. Her cultural planning expertise includes managing an innovative arts district master planning process in Beverly and a study of non-profit facilities of public accommodation along the Boston waterfront. Annis earned her PhD from MIT; her dissertation examined culture and public space. Her research reconstructed the history of ethnic parades in Chicago, Illinois and examined how cultural events in public space can build community identity, increase political access, spur design interventions, and promote economic development.

Annis holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Studies and Planning and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Yale University. Annis’s doctoral research explored the intersection of community identity and placemaking through ethnic parades in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of expertise: Arts and cultural planning, community and land use planning, zoning, visioning and strategy development, relationship building, cultural asset mapping, graphic design, urban design, accessible public participation, and waterfront planning.