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Ground broken on Boston Arts Academy in Fenway

The $125 million facility is expected to be completed by 2021.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh together with the Boston Public Schools (BPS), and the Boston Arts Academy (BAA) community yesterday broke ground on a new $125 million state-of-the-art facility for the BAA, marking the largest individual school investment to date under the Walsh Administration. As part of the renovation, the school will expand from approximately 121,000 square feet to 153,500 square feet upon its completion in 2021.

“This is a proud day for Boston Arts Academy,” said Mayor Walsh. “This investment reinforces our commitment to making sure all students have access to the best school facilities. I am excited to break ground on these 21st century improvements that will support the strong academic and creative programming of the school, and look forward to welcoming students to this incredible space.”

Boston Arts Academy provides arts training combined with academic curricula for students from every neighborhood throughout Boston. More than 94 percent of the school’s graduates are accepted to college, many of them having been first generation college students. The BAA is one of two public high schools in Massachusetts for the visual and performing arts.

“The students of Boston Arts Academy are some of the most artistically creative young minds in this city, benefiting from a vibrant arts education,” said BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille. “I am thrilled to see future students display their talent and individuality in even more inventive and expressive ways once this state-of-the-art learning facility opens."

As a result of the expansion, the BAA will continue to innovate while serving more students who share a passion for the arts, including dance, design, music, theatre, and visual arts.

The new building will feature a bold glass façade, theatre marquee, and rooftop green space. It will be five stories, an expansion on the previous three, and will be designed for BAA’s strong academic and STEAM programming. The new facility will accommodate 500 students in academics and five arts majors: Theatre, Dance, Music, Design and Visual Communications (Visual Arts) and Fashion Technology. It will include new and greatly enhanced performance and rehearsal spaces including a new 500-seat theatre featuring a proscenium stage, a 200-seat black box theatre, four new dance studios, visual arts studios, a recording studio, choral room and 150 seat lecture hall, along with classrooms and science labs to provide a 21st century learning environment. The facility will also include a gym and a health and wellness center for students, and a fifth floor roof terrace designed for use as an outdoor classroom with performance space.

As part of the $125 million investment, $48 million will be reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Since 2014, Mayor Walsh and BPS have secured more than $110 million in MSBA funds to support new school buildings and facility renovations, which includes $30 million from the MSBA Accelerated Repair Program to fund for new boilers, windows, and roofs in school buildings across the City.

“Boston Arts Academy has been in the works for several years, and it is wonderful to finally be here,” said Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg. “Working collaboratively with the City of Boston and the Boston Public Schools, we are ensuring that these students have access to 21st century learning environments and every opportunity that they deserve.”

“There’s a very real need for students to have the opportunity to pursue an arts education in high school,” said Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College and board chair of the Boston Arts Academy foundation. “It’s critical for students who thrive in a creative environment, some of whom otherwise might not finish high school, let alone go on to college. Boston Arts Academy gives these students the chance to do both.”

“We are incredibly grateful to the city for its support,” said Boston Arts Academy Headmaster Anne Clark. “For our students and their families, alumni, faculty, and community supporters, it means the world to have affirmation of our work and mission. It’s thrilling to see this building, with its much-needed student spaces take shape and to know that it will serve future generations of passionate artists and creators.” 

The building was designed by Perkins Eastman and Wilson Butler Architects, the latter focusing specifically on theatre spaces, the contractor is Lee Kennedy. The City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department in collaboration with PMA Consultants has managed the design to date, and will manage the overall construction of the project. The new building will allow Boston Arts Academy to increase its capacity and is expected to be completed in 2021.

In August 2018, Mayor Walsh and BPS celebrated the opening of the Dearborn STEM 6-12 Early College Academy, the first school in Boston intentionally designed and built for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning. The $73 million facility was the first new school construction project in the Boston Public Schools in 15 years, and is seen as a model for future projects through the BuildBPS educational and facilities master plan. About $37 million of the total cost was reimbursed by the MSBA.

About Boston Arts Academy

Founded in 1998, Boston Arts Academy (BAA) is proud to be the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. BAA has distinguished itself among urban public high schools as a leader in innovative and effective student-centered education. Consistently recognized locally and nationally for its achievements, BAA exemplifies the power of an arts-rich education. More than 1,300 BAA graduates – the majority from low-income families – have found success in school through the arts. In fact, for the past 4 years, between 97 - 98% of BAA graduates are accepted to college. Most are the first in their families to achieve this goal. In order to be as broadly accessible as possible, BAA does not look at the grades, test scores, or behavioral records of applicants during the admissions process. BAA’s dynamic program prepares graduates to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, collaborators, and creators. Students come from every Boston neighborhood to receive the formal arts training and academic instruction that will make them Boston’s next generation of artists and cultural leaders. This is the only such opportunity within the Boston Public Schools.

About Boston Arts Academy Foundation

The BAA Foundation (BAAF) is a 501(c)(3) organization that raises 40% of the school’s annual operating budget, or $5,000 per student per year, in order to fund the arts-based education and critical social/emotional health services not covered by school district allocations. BAAF raises funds from individual, foundation, and corporate sources to ensure that Boston’s students have access to a college-preparatory, arts-rich education that would otherwise be unavailable to our students.

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