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Call to Artists Announced for Year Five of Boston Artists-in-Residence

Artists, organizers, and cultural workers of all disciplines are invited to participate in a 15-month-long residency with the City of Boston.

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture today announced applications are open for the fifth cohort of Boston Artists-in-Residence (Boston AIR). Through Boston AIR, a group of six artists will spend 15 months collaborating with a parallel group of City of Boston partners to co-design projects that imagine and test new approaches to challenges the City faces.

Boston AIR graphic

“Elevating and investing in Boston’s artists by bringing them into City Hall and embedding them in our departments’ work is crucial to addressing the challenges we’re facing as a city in new, creative ways,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “In this moment, arts and culture will help us recover, heal, connect, and thrive.”

Through Boston AIR, artists bring their expertise and experience with creative approaches while City partners provide policy expertise and knowledge of City systems. Through the collaboration, artists learn more about government, while City departments practice creative problem solving. 

Participants of Boston AIR are asked to co-design projects that consider the needs of Boston’s diverse communities, examine City policies with a lens of resilience and racial equity, help residents understand how local government impacts them, support a collaborative creation of City policies and processes, and provide a model for civic practice that departments can use going forward.

“As an artist concerned with the potential of the creative process to positively impact communities, being a Boston AIR was a transformative experience,” said former Boston Artist-in-Residence Erin Genia. “It allowed me to think deeply about how my practice might be of service, to develop my ideas within a supportive cohort and to learn how to enact them directly through city processes. It has changed how I see my own contributions to society through art by connecting me with amazing people around the city who are working to address deep disparities and create positive change.”

This year, five artists will work with Boston Parks and Recreation, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA)’s Planning and Research Divisions, the Environment Department, and Boston Transportation Department. An additional artist will be selected to conduct participatory action research with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture as part of the program.

“Over the past several years, we’ve worked with so many talented artists and have seen the continued impact of their projects on City processes,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture. “We’re excited to work with a new cohort of artists this year, and think creatively with them to break down some of the barriers between communities and government.”

This Call to Artists is open to all artists, organizers, and cultural workers aged 18 and over with demonstrated experience working on civic issues, whether through community organizing, cultural work, or social artistic practice. Individuals working in any and all media are encouraged to apply. Each artist receives a $37,000 artist stipend and up to $10,000 for project materials.

"A focus of the BPDA in the past few years has been to promote and provide spaces for art in the community through projects like the PLAN: Mattapan Public Art Project,” said Director of Planning Lauren Shurtleff. “Now, with Boston AIR, we are excited to bring that artist perspective in, to be applied directly to our work."

"There is an undeniable connection between humans, nature, and Mayor Wu's call to action to build a better future for our children and our planet-- and art is a critical vehicle to educate, connect with, and mobilize our communities," said Kathleen Hart, Environment Department Communications Manager. "Through Boston AIR, the Environment Department is eager to welcome an artist to share their unique creative-thinking and enhance our work to achieve carbon-neutrality, environmental justice, and resilience."

virtual info session for interested applicants will be held on Wednesday, January 26 at 12 p.m. ET. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. More information about the program can be found at boston.gov/boston-air.

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