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$2.37 Million In Neighborhood And Downtown Activation Grants Awarded To 19 Grantees

These one-time and multi-year investments will support free, accessible and community-focused arts, cultural and creative activations in public spaces across Boston’s neighborhoods.


Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture today announced 19 arts and cultural grantees are receiving funding totaling $2.37 million in the first round of Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grants. Funding in round one ranges from $5,000 one-time grants up to $450,000 disbursed over three years for major investments in city-wide arts experiences. This program supports community-focused arts, cultural, and creative activations in public spaces that foster joy and strengthen community wellbeing in Downtown Boston and in the heart of the City’s neighborhoods. 

“Our communities in Boston are filled with so much culture and vibrancy that deserves to be reflected in the public spaces that make our neighborhoods home,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am grateful for our partners and grantees for helping with our goal of strengthening communities and increasing cultural access.”

This grant is helping to build up both on-going landmark cultural productions and support the creation of new inclusive signature events in Boston ranging from a new Hip Hop Festival and a Public Art Triennial to Shakespeare on the Common and the Boston Comics in Color Festival.

The Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant prioritizes funding activations that build opportunities for the public to contribute to the vision, creation, and enjoyment of the activation. It also prioritizes activations that integrate outcomes for young people (ages 14 to 24) into the activation, facilitating opportunities for young people to inform and lead work, including opportunities to learn specific skills or gain career exposure. 

“We are excited to bring more community-led innovation and cross-neighborhood collaboration to Boston through the Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. “This program invests in the community while creating opportunities for growth and sustainability in the cultural sector, supporting enduring opportunities for Boston’s communities to have access to the arts.”

"I am proud to see the Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant program supporting free, accessible, and community-focused arts initiatives. These investments not only enrich our public spaces but also exemplify our commitment to fostering inclusivity and celebrating the diverse cultural tapestry of our neighborhoods," said Chief of Equity and Inclusion Mariangely Solis Cervera.

The goal of this grant program is to support new creative programming that activates public space and helps welcome residents to these shared spaces across the City.

Read more about the 19 grantees in round one and their activations:

  • Ágora Cultural Architects
    • Latinx Sounds & Flavors is a Latinx chamber music concert series to be held at the Arlington Street Church, collaborating with local Latinx eateries to showcase diverse traditions and tastes. Artistic and historical tours of the church will be offered in both English and Spanish, emphasizing its rich cultural heritage with inclusive materials. Lastly, Ágora will arrange live performances during the church's weekly Friday Night Supper for individuals experiencing homelessness or living in poverty, promoting community and well-being.
  • Boston Comics of Color
    • The Boston Comics in Color Festival (BCICF) is a family-friendly event for all ages focusing on creators of color and stories by and about people of color. Taking place at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center of Roxbury Community College, the festival includes event headliners, special guest speakers, panel discussions with working artists and writers, workshops, live art demos, as well as an artist alley for comic creators. 
  • Boston Lyric Opera
    • Street Stage is BLO’s mobile truck-turned-stage, bringing free outdoor performances that activate public spaces in neighborhoods across Greater Boston. The series features diverse artists of all genres and perspectives, tapping into local sensibilities, cultivating cross-cultural collaborations, and connecting BLO to a growing list of community partners while expanding free access to the arts for a growing audience.
  • Boston Society of Caribbean Culture and Heritage (BSOCCAH)
    • BSOCCAH hosted the first Kiddies Caribbean Carnival and Pan on the Plaza, a steelpan showcase.
  • Cakeswagg Music
    • Hip Hop Immersive is a three-day festival highlighting the history of hip-hop, the history of hip-hop in Boston, while celebrating the impact inner city communities of Boston have had on the genre as well as visual and live performances of hip hop artist spanning across all neighborhoods and decades of hip-hop in Boston.
  • Caribbean American Carnival Association of Boston (CACAB)
    • The 2023 Boston Caribbean Festival Carnival Day featured a parade with bands and masqueraders, spectators lining the streets to witness the enormous spectacle, and thousands of people from all cultures engaging in the day’s festivities.
  • The Center for Teen Empowerment
    • Mind Matters Youth Resource Fair is a mental health resource fair aimed at providing young people direct access to mental health support in the Roxbury and Dorchester communities. 
  • Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England
    • The Chinatown Heritage Project aims to create exhibits and programs that will explore the community life and immigrant history of those who lived, worked, and visited the community
  • Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
    • Commonwealth Shakespeare Company will produce top-quality professional Shakespearean productions on Boston Common and share the stage with other arts organizations through the CommonStage program, offering all performances openly and free of charge. While maintaining a high standard of artistic excellence and accessibility of Shakespeare on the Common, CSC will grow artistic partnerships to increase the offerings on the Common and the opportunities for smaller local arts organizations. They will also work to engage more deeply with communities and neighborhoods across the City, making performances on the Common more accessible and more responsive to the community.
  • Company One
    • Boston’s Theatre for the People three-month-long activations will occur at the Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner, and at the Central Branch of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. In addition to pay-what-you-want main productions, C1’s free community engagement events in library branches, at partner sites, and online extend each production’s impact through public discussion, social activity, and community organizing. 
  • Dancing Dragon
    • Dancing Dragon is the second Hudson Street Stoop exhibit developed to cultivate a vibrant, inclusive neighborhood space. Designed and fabricated by HSS Artists Katherine Chin & Parke MacDowell, Dancing Dragon was developed in collaboration with Chinatown residents through a series of community visioning, design, and painting sessions. Inspired by traditional Chinese dragon dance, the interactive installation consists of a steel pavilion with a meandering canopy structure providing seating, shade, and the armature for community activity.
  • Igbo Organization of New England, Inc.
    • The Nigerian Igbo Day Festival exemplifies community-focused cultural and creative activations in public spaces that foster joy and strengthen community wellbeing across Boston. The event showcases different cultural activities from Nigeria.
    • ILLUMINUS will be working with curators and cultural arts organizations in three specific neighborhoods of Boston to create a cohort of four artists in each neighborhood. Selected artists will work with extended resources and support to develop unique experiential exhibitions that will be showcased free-to-the-public within the context of each neighborhood. 
  • Inet Entertainment Corporation
    • House of Inspiration Family Music & Arts Festival, provided a free festival focused on mental health awareness for the Mattapan community. This festival had live performances, local vendors, food, games, and resources.
  • Ngoc-Tran Vu
    • The 1975: A Vietnamese Diaspora Commemoration Initiative is leading to a temporary public art installation in 2025 that paves the way for a permanent tribute in the long term. This initiative’s approach will focus on the richness of intergenerational dialogue and collaboration. The community will inform the project through a series of bilingual public convenings in beloved local venues in Fields Corner, Dorchester. 
  • Northeast Art Space
    • This activation will be a free and open public interactive art exhibit and ballet performances at Northeast Arts, with collaborations by other local arts organizations.
  • Now + There
    • Now + There’s activation will be a two-year program leading up to the Boston Public Art Triennial hosted by local public arts-focused non-profit organizations.
  • Puerto Rican Festival of MA
    • The Puerto Rican Festival of Massachusetts is a cultural organization that amplifies and celebrates the Puerto Rican community of the Commonwealth. They build community through artistic and cultural celebration, youth and community engagement, education, and service.
  • White Snake Projects
    • Our Neighborhoods, Our Stories, Our Voices brings together communities in Roxbury, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Chinatown and East Boston in a collaborative project with two components—Show Out Boston! and the Community Opera—in service of WSP’s vision to build a multicultural artistic Town Square which integrates performing arts in Boston. Show Out Boston! is WSP’s dynamic youth arts program celebrating the creative work of youth across the city on a common stage. The Community Opera brings together different organizations to work on a brand new production that centers young artistic voices.

“WSP is thrilled to have the support of the Mayor's Office of Arts & Culture,” said Andrés Ballesteros, Community Director of White Snake Projects. “Thanks to this support, we are working to elevate the voices of youth across the city by sharing the stage and co-creating a brand new work of musical storytelling from scratch. Thanks to the NDAG, we have already been able to host our first event at Hibernian Hall and to begin work with 826 Boston on telling a new story we will bring to the stage.”

"We are grateful for this new opportunity to present Latin American classical music repertoires to the musical city of Boston. We are proud to be part of a community that builds a better city through arts and culture," said Elsa Mosquera-Steremberg, co-leader of Ágora Cultural Architects.

There is a total of $5 million available in this fund that will be distributed over multiple rounds of rolling applications. The Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Boston Planning and Development Public Impact Contribution funds.

To learn more about the Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant and the grantees, visit

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