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Boston Artists-in-Residence (AIR)

Artists in our residency program partner with City departments. Together, they re-imagine a more creative and equitable Boston.

In the program, we bring together artists and City employees that share deep investments in community and social justice. The artists bring artistic expertise and experience with creative approaches. Our City partners provide subject matter expertise and experience with existing City systems. Artists learn more about government, while City departments learn about creative problem solving. They co-design projects that test new approaches to City policies and processes. They explore how City initiatives impact the experience of all Bostonians. Projects are often responsive to the social and political context of that year.

Have questions? Contact us:


Our application is currently closed. Sign up for our newsletters for updates about the program. We will also post more information on this page when it is available.

Read the Boston AIR evaluation

Boston AIR podcast

About the program

Through Boston AIR, artists work with City of Boston partners to strengthen City initiatives.

This year, the City of Boston invited five artists to spend a year collaborating with five City departments. Guided by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, the five sets of partners began working together to research and co-create projects. These projects addressed existing needs of the people of Boston.

The five departments that were invited to work with artist partners were: 

As Boston AIR evolves, we are integrating what we've learned from previous years into each year’s program. These themes include:

  • Examining City policies with a lens of resilience and racial equity (Year 3)
  • Understanding how local government policy impacts Bostonians (Year 2)
  • Supporting collaborative and democratic creation of City policy, process, and practice (Year 1)

"Artists-in-Residence implement projects that imagine and test new approaches to City of Boston policies, processes, and procedures with the help of various City of Boston departments. This, in turn, helps to create a stronger and more equitable city." - Former Mayor Martin J. Walsh

Due to the pandemic, the AIR program has been held virtually. Developing projects have been responsive to the current COVID-19 emergency. Artists and City partners have also engaged in the nationwide conversation around racism, colonialism, and white supremacy. They've addressed how these issues show up in policy that impacts the experience of Bostonians.

AIR projects have involved social justice issues happening across the nation. These include:

  • dialogue around public monuments
  • nationwide budgeting processes, and
  • disparities in fair housing access.

We held monthly Partner Circles. These meetings were held with the full cohort of Artist and City partners. They provided space to explore the intersection of these various issues and movements. They also create an opportunity for unique collaborations and relationship building.

“We at the Housing Innovation Lab are currently exploring the ways in which the triple decker has tied the fabric of the city together as a housing typology that allowed many to call Boston home. In this exploration, we have understood that art and story telling is a key component to engaging with residents, external partners, as well as other city departments. To partner with Boston AIR is to work alongside dedicated artists that are willing to engage with the work we explore and provide a unique perspective on how we shape our work and communicate it to a wide variety of audiences.” - Wandy Pascoal, Housing Innovation Lab

“VIP has long been interested in incorporating more arts into our community and youth programming.  Not only are the arts a powerful way to engage the community, they also provide  a creative opportunity for expression and healing.” - Tania Mireles, Boston Public Health Commission

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