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Joy Agenda announced, including launch of 2021 Transformative Public Art Program

The agenda is a citywide invitation to hold space for joy, encourage opportunities for collective processing of grief, and invest in healing, imagination and play.

Mayor Kim Janey, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, Boston Parks Department and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, among other departments, today announced the Joy Agenda, which is a city-wide invitation, opportunity, and investment in our collective well being. As a key part of this initiative, the City of Boston and Boston Art Commission are now accepting applications for the 2021 Transformative Public Art Program, which is now in its third year. 

Victor “Marka27” Quiñonez, 2019 Transformative Public Art grantee, creating the mural “Back to the Essence” in Newmarket Square.

“After over a year of incredible hardships caused by COVID-19 and acts of violence against communities of color across the country, we’re looking at ways we can foster an equitable recovery that allows all residents of Boston to thrive,” said Mayor Janey. “We believe that by emphasizing the power of joy in healing and growth, we’ll be able to come back together as a stronger, more welcoming city.”

Through the Joy Agenda, the City of Boston wants to place a focus on:

  • Creating spaces to reflect on and share what joy means to Boston and re-imagine more equitable policies and practices that promote joyful access to public space and other services;
  • Providing a range of ways for residents to safely reconnect with family, friends, and neighbors through engaging both virtually and in our vibrant public spaces; and
  • Investing in recovery and renewal through supporting the power and delight that arts and culture workers, local small businesses and youth bring to the City of Boston.

A key part of this work includes a focus on City-led initiatives that create job opportunities for creative workers across artistic disciplines throughout communities, organizations, and City departments. The Transformative Public Art Program, led by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, is one element of this initiative.

“This past year, we saw so many artists bring together communities amid social isolation and provide collective opportunities for processing grief, healing, and joy,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. “This program will bring more arts opportunities to Boston, while also investing in artists and creative workers who need our support now more than ever.”

This is the third year of the Transformative Public Art Program. Last year, 24 public art projects were awarded grants totaling $35,000 as part of the program. This year, the call has been split into three different opportunities: 

  • Opportunity 1 is for artists interested in creating murals, who are flexible about location. Artists will be selected based on a written proposal, portfolio, and interests, and the City will match them with a site. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Wednesday, June 2 at 5 p.m.
  • Opportunity 2 is for artists interested in creating murals that are associated with specific themes or communities identified by the City. Projects include working with Hyde Square Task Force and community members to create a mural for Boston’s Latin Quarter in Mozart Park in Jamaica Plain, working with the Boston Parks Department and community members to create a mural honoring the legacy of Malcolm X in Malcolm X Park in Roxbury, working with a consulting team and community members to create a mural commemorating the legacy of Rita Hester and Transgender Day of Remembrance in Allston, and working with Age Strong Boston and community members to create a mural at the East Boston Senior Center. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Wednesday, June 16 at 5 p.m.
  • Opportunity 3 is for artists with a specific short-term project and location in mind. Projects can include murals, new media, traditional media, installations or performances, community-engaged cultural practices, social practice, or elements that specifically engage youth and/or non-English speaking communities. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Wednesday, June 30th at 5 p.m. 

Budgets for Opportunity 1 and 2 projects will range from $25,000-$75,000 depending on site. Budgets for Opportunity 3 projects will start at $1,000.

This program is open to all arts and culture practitioners, organizers, professional artists, curators, cultural workers, arts administrators, etc. with a strong preference for those who live in or have a connection to Boston and/or the overall theme or the theme for an individual site.

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture will be holding virtual Question and Answer sessions on Monday, May 24th at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, May 26th at noon. You can find more information on the Transformative Public Art Program website. To apply, check out the online application. To learn more about the Joy Agenda, visit

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