2020 Census: What You Need To Know

Our Communities Deserve to be Seen, Heard,

and Counted

On February 26th, ArtsBoston presented an information session for arts workers about the upcoming 2020 Census and how the arts sector should be involved. In partnership with MASSCreative and expertly led by Mass Voter Table Director Beth Huang, this crash course informed us about the direct impact the US Census has on our communities and what we can do to help Getting Out The Count!

As the Director at the Mass Voter Table, Beth works with over 25 community organizations to increase voter turnout and civic leadership in communities of color, youth, and working-class people in Massachusetts. Beth and ArtsBoston partnership goes back to the inception of the Audience Lab.

The census is a chance for all of our communities to tell the story of who they are.

Beth’s passion for civic engagement runs deep, and with the census on the horizon, it’s crucial to remember why it’s important to stay involved. She says, “The census is a chance for all of our communities to tell the story of who they are.” Every ten years, the data collected helps us understand who lives in our neighborhoods, impacts political redistricting, and determines how $800 billion in federal resources is allocated across communities for public education, affordable housing, and public transportation and infrastructure.

It’s these vital civic services that intersect with our audiences’ ability to engage with the region’s arts and culture.

2020 Census will help to determine critical Federal funding for public transportation in Boston. | MBTA Red Line train. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Being counted in the census is especially important for populations who have been historically undercounted or hard to count (this includes people of color, communities where English is not the first language, young children, and low-income households). For federal funding to be equitable, an effort must be made to reach out to these undercounted groups. Beth also pointed out that communities, where English is not the first language, can also create a barrier to filling out the census.  To alleviate these challenges, arts organizations can get involved in several ways, especially if these hard to count communities are your neighbors!

Multi-lingual urban neighborhoods like Dorchester’s Upham’s Corner are often undercounted. | The Strand Theater located in Upham’s Corner in Dorchester. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

5 Fast Facts about the 2020 Census

1) Beginning on March 12, the US Census Bureau will send letters to households to kick off the self-reporting process.

2) There is no question asking about citizenship!

3) The census only takes 5 minutes to fill out, contains 12 questions, and is completely confidential and protected by law.

4) Self-reporting for the 2020 census is taking place online for the first time in census history at www.2020census.gov!

5) Self-reporting is open from March 13, 2020 – May 12, 2020.

What Your Organization Can Do

• Incorporate reminders about the importance of getting a full and fair count on the census in newsletters, collateral, listservs, and other messaging
• Create an “I counted” social media campaign
• Host or find a host for a Questionnaire Assistance Center, which offers information and assistance with the census, access to computers, tablets, and mobile devices, and translated materials
• Help distribute posters and brochures about the 2020 Census in public spaces and venues
• Host a Census Day celebration in the week of April 1, 2020
• Host a job fair to recruit Census Bureau enumerators. Encourage your freelance and student communities to apply for a temporary part-time, flexible position with the 2020 Census. Suffolk County pays $25- 27.50 an hour.

As arts organizations, getting involved with the 2020 Census is a no-brainer way that we can impact the political sector and contribute to increasing public equity for our audiences, networks, and neighbors. Because it’s taking place during this busy election season, it’s crucial to be proactive about you and your household’s participation and to spread the word in your communities. Let’s help Get Out The Count!

For more information, check out the
Massachusetts 2020 Census department, the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund, and MassCounts.


Elena Morris (she/her/hers) is ArtsBoston’s Patron Service Manager. She is a dramaturg and arts administrator passionate about forward thinking in the arts. Elena holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University, focusing her studies on dramatic literature and movement. twitter-4-512 @elena_pearl
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  • Ghulam Mohyudin

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  • simon

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