Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC) announced the launch of the City of Boston’s Cultural Investment Grant, a $10 million multi-year investment in transformative growth opportunities for an equitable arts sector in Boston. The Cultural Investment Grant is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) as part of the City of Boston’s recovery efforts. The grant responds to the overlapping, devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cultural sector and on communities of color across Boston.
“This unprecedented City investment will help growing arts and cultural organizations strengthen their roots in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This program will elevate and scale arts and culture organizations, particularly in underserved communities, and make transformative, new investments that will deepen the connection to arts for all our residents.”
The grant will direct funds to build capacity for arts and cultural organizations working in partnership with communities in Boston most impacted by the pandemic, particularly communities of color. Grant amounts will be between $600,000 and $3 million. Distributed over four years, the grants will provide investments in the cultural sector that will give 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.
Boston-based arts and cultural organizations that have both budgets under $3 million and 501(c)(3) status or fiscal sponsorship can apply. Priority will be given to organizations located within or working with communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations will also be evaluated on their demonstrated commitment to equity, the representation of the communities with which they work in their visions, missions, and programming, and their active partnerships within their communities.
The funding structure of the Cultural Investment Grant is divided into three tiers to include a range of arts and cultural organizations for which these funds will be transformative. The amount of funding allocated to each tier is informed by an organization’s operating budget:
• At least three grassroots organizations with operating budgets under $500,000 will each receive up to $600,000 over four years.
• Up to two organizations with operating budgets between $500,000 and $2 million will each receive $1 million over four years.
• Up to two organizations with budgets between $2 million and $3 million will each receive $3 million over four years.
“Creativity is vital to a healthy, equitable, and thriving community, and investing in increased access to the arts and creative expression throughout the city is crucial,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture. “We hope this transformative funding enables cultural organizations to anchor themselves in their communities and build sustainable futures for lasting impact.”
“This grant opportunity will amplify and empower grassroot organizations, creatives, and cultural leaders who continuously keep Boston’s rich, diverse history front and center,” said Mariangely Solis Cervera, Chief of Equity and Inclusion. “This is the first step in creating sustainable solutions for celebrating and preserving local arts and culture.”
“This grant for Boston’s arts and culture organizations is both a pivotal moment and a necessary direction for our city,” said Catherine Morris, Director of Arts and Culture at the Boston Foundation and Founder and Artistic Director of BAMS Fest. “Our local organizations are not only the backbone of our neighborhoods but are vital lifelines to ensuring that programs are accessible, available and affordable; and that the next generation of cultural workers, artists, leaders and the like have pathways to economic freedom, space, career development, and creative autonomy. We, at the Boston Foundation hope that this type of grant opportunity inspires people to see the value and contribution that local organizations provide, and invest in the people within the arts and culture ecosystem, so that it remains sustainable, strong, and deeply connected.”
“It is wonderful to start this year with an announcement like this,” said Elsa Mosquera, Principal and Co-Founder of Àgora Cultural Architects. “This is an absolutely extraordinary initiative because it acknowledges the transformative value that arts and cultural organizations have in their communities. This type of support represents an enormous opportunity for these organizations to have the economic stability they need to carry out their mission in an organized way, with well-paid cultural resources, while simultaneously amplifying the work they carry out in their communities.
“Boston needs to invest in organizations and artists that have been working to provide high quality and culturally responsive programming the BIPOC community for a long time, like Veronica Robles Cultural Center (VROCC), which serves more than 200 Latinx artists in the city and provides them with a venue and paid opportunities to showcase their talent,” said Veronica Robles, Executive Director of Veronica Robles Cultural Center. “We are very excited about the transformative investment in Boston’s cultural sector through this $10 million multi-year funding opportunity.”
“Across the City of Boston in the last few years, creativity and culture have been instrumental in strengthening bonds and providing connection and healing,” said Cynthia Woo, Director of Pao Arts Center. “Art is embedded everywhere in our lives, in places we may not expect or take for granted. The arts have the power to bring people together for important conversations and to share joyful experiences. You’ll find arts, culture, and creativity as crucial components of programs at community centers, in religious spaces, and in public spaces and parks. The City’s new investment in communities of color is a much needed start to supporting work that has been vital to the wellbeing of our neighborhoods, including Pao Arts Center’s own Chinatown neighborhood, as we move forward to visioning a Boston that is not merely surviving, but thriving.”
Interested organizations are invited to submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) by February 1, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.