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$7.35 Million in Cultural Investment Grants Awarded to 11 Grantee Partners

This multi-year transformative investment funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) supports arts and cultural organizations in reimagining a more creative and equitable city.

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture, in collaboration with the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, today announced that 11 arts and cultural grantees are receiving funding totaling $7,350,000 as part of the City’s new Cultural Investment Grant program. This program, supported by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, represents the largest ever municipal investment into Boston’s cultural community, and will help support these organizations with a clear vision for a creative, equitable and more just City in scaling and strengthening their programing across the City. 

“Supporting these organizations through the Cultural Investment Grant program not only allows us to expand accessibility and equity in the arts sector, but also helps us make progress on so many other important needs—equity and wealth-building, housing stability and community-building, and supporting health and well-being in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michelle Wu

The funding will build capacity for arts and cultural organizations working in partnership with communities in Boston, uplift Boston’s cultural sector, and reinforce equitable access to arts and culture by supporting communities of color in Boston who have been most impacted by long standing systemic inequities and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“The City of Boston is honored to partner with these organizations to make transformative investments across the city, and imagine a better future for all Bostonians through the arts and creativity,” said Chief of Arts & Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega. “This process has also made the most of our federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars, allowing us to explore new, innovative methods of grantmaking that will inform how we can best support Boston’s arts community.”

The eleven grantee partners are:

  • Beat The Odds, a multidisciplinary arts organization based in Grove Hall that is dedicated to working with and alongside young people to develop the skills necessary to build a career in the creative world while caring for their mental health so that they can navigate the complexities of today’ society. BTO’s Creative Youth Development Program aims to provide a safe space where young people have access to the creative tools necessary to inspire self-awareness, mental health, and healing.
  • Dorchester Art Project and Boston Little Saigon Cultural District, a collaboration between two organizations that are working to develop a mixed-use community, cultural, and arts services hub that is trauma-informed, BIPOC-centered, and dedicated to conserving and promoting the arts, cultures, and identities within the Dorchester community.
  • BAMS Fest, a cultural movement led by Greater Boston Black and Brown artists, culture makers and creative entrepreneurs who are on the front lines of racial equity, spatial justice, and economic empowerment. Their mission is to break down racial and social barriers to arts, music, and culture across Greater Boston through education and entertainment, including its annual Boston Art & Music Soul Festival.
  • Design Studio for Social Intervention (ds4si), a creativity lab situated at the intersections of design thinking and practice, social justice and activism, public art and social practice, and civic engagement that designs and tests social interventions in and with communities for the improvement of civil society and everyday life. DS4SI’s new Design Gym engages BIPOC communities in world-building at the scale of the neighborhood, city, and beyond.
  • The Theater Offensive, a social change organization using theater and the performing arts as cultural organizing tools. Building on a three-decade history of nationally recognized programming, TTO serves Boston’s queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) community and their allies, families, and friends with groundbreaking theater, arts education, and civic engagement offerings.
  • Veronica Robles Cultural Center, a community-based organization in East Boston that aims to promote Latino arts and culture as an engine for stronger communities and economic growth. VROCC’s arts and culture programming is multipurpose, multidisciplinary, culturally affirming, and bilingual. 
  • Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (Pao Arts Center), an arts and cultural center in Chinatown that utilizes the arts, cultural programming and creativity to support the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. A collaboration between BCNC and BHCC, Pao Arts Center empowers creativity, connection, learning, and support across communities and generations.
  • Cultural Equity Incubator, a creative home for Boston’s small and mid-sized organizations and collectives led by, and for, Queer, Trans, 2-Spirit, Disabled, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (QT2SDBIPOC) arts communities that works to equitably share space, governance, networks, and resources to support one another in actualizing their creative efforts to shape cultural landscape while centering justice and joy.
  • That Child Got Talent, Secret Society of Black Creatives, and Next Leadership Development Corporation, a collaboration that collectively provides filmmaking-focused arts and cultural experiences to Boston residents and a workforce pipeline to the growing film and advertising industries in Massachusetts for young Black creatives. The collective's focus is on connecting Black people and other People of Color to unique storytelling and career opportunities. 
  • Jean Appolon Expressions, a contemporary dance company deeply rooted in Haitian-folkloric culture that celebrates, nurtures, and empowers a global community through professional performances, teaching, and fostering healing and the joy of movement in people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to contribute to a socially just world.
  • Hyde Square Task Force, an organization that amplifies the power, creativity, and voices of youth, connecting them to Afro-Latin culture and heritage so they can create a diverse, vibrant Latin Quarter and build a just, equitable Boston.

As part of this grant process, the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture piloted a Cultural Advisory Team, which was a cohort of diverse stakeholders who played an integral role in the application and decision-making process, including conducting applicant interviews, supporting organizations with the completion of their applications and organizational profiles, and contributing to final funding decisions.

“The Cultural Investment Grant is a pivotal opportunity and a new beginning for the City of Boston, its residents, working artists and organizations to unapologetically stand together, collaborate, connect, and amplify our talents, values, narratives and possibilities for the entire Arts & Culture ecosystem,” said Catherine T. Morris, Founder and Artistic Director of BAMS Fest. “For BAMS Fest to be considered and granted this award, among the other organizations, signals a widening of doors for opportunity, job creation, spatial justice, economic empowerment and holistic convening on city and statewide levels. We no longer have to fear, cry or contemplate whether Arts & Culture should be a practiced norm. We now have the chance to mobilize, organize and hold ourselves and others accountable to ensure that our neighborhoods, cultural spaces, ideas and values are truly upheld and supported.” 

“This Cultural Investment Grant will mean significant investment in our work to elevate Afro-Latin arts and culture in the Latin Quarter,” said Celina Miranda, Executive Director of Hyde Square Task Force. “We are thrilled to be partnering with the City of Boston and honored to be among the fantastic group of organizations receiving support.”

“MASSCreative, arts advocates, and members applaud Mayor Wu and the Boston City Council for this historic investment into the infrastructure of Boston's creative economy," said Emily Ruddock, Executive Director of MASSCreative. "We know that arts, culture and creativity are an economic driver for Boston and this funding will ensure that these communal benefits are guaranteed for every resident in every neighborhood. This is the result of leaders in City Hall collaborating with residents and cultural advocates in Boston to build a stronger and more inclusive creative sector.”

Distributed over three and a half years, the grants will provide investments in the cultural sector that will give these organizations a path to thrive and sustain in Boston, create long term opportunities for all of Boston’s communities to have access to the arts, and strengthen the local arts ecosystem with new and unprecedented investments. The City of Boston also awarded $10,000 each to Company One Theatre, Boston Children’s Chorus, and The Guild for making it to the final round of the review process.

To learn more about the Cultural Investment Grant and the grantee partners, visit our website.

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