Celebrating You: The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture's 2022 Year in Review

Our community had a lot to celebrate in 2022!

At the end of this year and every year, we are grateful for you: the artists, the creative business owners, the community organizers, and the families, friends, and neighbors who come together to create our city’s vibrant, diverse, and close-knit arts community.

As we look back at the growth and successes of 2022, we know that it wouldn’t have been possible without all of you – you advocated for what you were passionate about, supported and celebrated projects that you loved, and created artwork in our city that brought us together, inspired thought and action, and brightened our everyday lives.

YOU CREATED ART IN THE COMMUNITIES YOU WORK AND LIVE IN 

Over the summer, 87 emerging artists living or working in Boston brightened our streets through the PaintBox program. These colorful utility box artworks popped up in 17 neighborhoods across the city – from bright sunflowers in Mission Hill (Laura Buscemi) to playful cats in Dorchester (Alicia Drumm). We were proud to commission so many new artworks by and for members of our communities through the PaintBox program this year. Learn more about the process from two of this year’s PaintBox artists in Allston-Brighton, Michael Talbot and Halle Cooper. 

PaintBox by Faith Lyons
PaintBox by Faith Lyons

See the 2022 PaintBox Map

At Mozart Park in Jamaica Plain, artist Roberto Chao, the Hyde Square Task Force, and local community members worked together to paint a new mural called “Afro-Latin Music and Dance.” More than 50 youth engaged in brainstorming the elements incorporated in the design, 15 participants including youth, artists, and volunteers worked with lead artist Roberto Chao to design the mural, and dozens of residents turned up at community engagement meetings to offer input on the design. Then, during the installation process, dozens more community members came out to actually paint the 163-foot-long mural. Hear what this mural meant to some of the participants in this video.

Photo of Mozart Park mural celebration
Photo of Mozart Park mural celebration, courtesy of Mark Saperstein

YOU PARTICIPATED IN THE PUBLIC ART PROCESS

Through the Transformative Public Art program, the City of Boston allocated more than $1 million for the creation of 11 new murals across Boston this year. You were there as “Rita’s Spotlight,” a mural proposed by former Boston Artist-in-Residence Golden and created by artist Rixy, came to life in Allston. Mural consultant Lala Shanks led a community engagement process that included Rita’s family members, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and staff from the Massachusetts Transgender Emergency Fund. Then, during its installation, you joined us at the mural site (and virtually) to engage with the artwork at Rixy’s artist talk.

Artist talk in front of 'Rita's Spotlight' mural in Allston
Photo of Rixy's artist talk at "Rita's Spotlight" mural

At Boston Arts Academy (BAA), you helped us commission artworks that complemented the school’s new state-of-the-art facility in the Fenway neighborhood. The Artist Selection Committee included representatives from the Boston Art Commission, local arts professionals representing the neighborhood, and professional and student end-users of the project site. In the end, the community chose Simon Donovan and Ben Olmstead to produce “The Creative” for the exterior installation and MASARY Studios to create “Memory/Diffusion” for the interior. Both designs prioritized representing the vibrancy and diversity of the school and its activities.

Photo of Mayor Wu with MASARY team in front of "Memory/Diffusion"
Mayor Wu with MASARY Studios in front of "Memory/Diffusion"

YOU PUT OUR CULTURAL INVESTMENTS TO USE

This year, the City of Boston awarded $800,000 to 120 artists and creative workers through the Opportunity Fund. Boston-based artists and creatives used these funds to put on the first porchfest event in Dorchester, organize a multisensory concert in Chinatown, and acquire an art studio space to organize with other artists. These are just a few of the many exciting projects created by and for our community, aided by the Opportunity Fund. 

Photo of Building Empathy workshop led by Nora Valdez at Conservatory Lab Charter School
Photo of Building Empathy workshop led by Opportunity Fund grantee Nora Valdez at Conservatory Lab Charter School

We awarded more than $3.4 million in grants to 192 arts and cultural organizations for general operating support and COVID-19 relief – an unprecedented amount of funding. And we piloted a new grant program where we invested $200,000 to support 12 local productions at the Strand Theatre. From small artist groups to some of Boston’s most beloved cultural institutions, you used these grants to continue providing Boston residents with diverse arts programming and services across our city.

The City also allocated $500,000 this year in workforce development contracts. Twelve individuals and organizations are putting this funding to use to provide technical assistance, professional development, and workforce development services to artists and creative workers in our community. Funded programs included the ACTivate Residency at the Boston Center for the Arts, video production services for 30 artists and creative workers from The Loop Lab, and a space rental program for dancers through Urbanity Dance, Inc. We are proud that these partnerships and collaborations are able to bring the arts community together in support of each other’s professional development. 

YOU HELPED US SAVE AN IMPORTANT ARTIST WORKSPACE

Lastly, we want to celebrate a huge accomplishment this year that couldn’t have happened without the artists, the community, and the organizations that rallied around a cultural space that was at risk. This November, we were proud to announce that the City of Boston invested $1.7 million to preserve the affordable artist workspaces at Humphreys Street Studios in Dorchester. The artists’ organization and advocacy for affordable artist workspace made this possible, along with partnerships with our office, BlueHub Capital and LISC, and New Atlantic Development. More than 45 artists are now able to keep their workspaces affordable in perpetuity. 

Photo from Humphreys Street Studios celebration
Photo from Humphreys Street Studios celebration

You also organized and advocated for the importance of creative workspace in other neighborhoods around the city - paving the way for new funding, policies and partnerships!

SO, WHAT’S NEXT?

There will be even more milestones and accomplishments for us to celebrate as a community in the new year. We will continue to facilitate growth, strengthen community bonds, and work to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the arts in Boston. 

Here are a few upcoming projects that you can keep an eye out for:

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