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Foundations give $750,000 in Boston-area arts grants

Boston Foundation president and CEO Paul S. Grogan.Bill Brett for the Boston Globe

The Boston Foundation and Barr Foundation are joining forces to pump roughly $750,000 into the local creative economy, handing out 60 grants to performing artists, small performing arts groups, and organizations in Greater Boston.

The project-specific grants, worth up to $15,000 each, are part of Live Arts Boston, a new program meant to foster fresh productions and artistic risk-taking among recipients, whose proposals ranged from an interdisciplinary public art project to a festival focused on female performing artists.

The Boston Foundation has provided $500,000, while the Barr Foundation is adding another $250,000

“Individual artists and small companies are the lifeblood of creativity in our region,” San San Wong, senior program officer and arts and creativity program lead for the Barr Foundation, said in a statement. “Barr is pleased to have joined the Boston Foundation to launch LAB and support this first set of artists and small companies. And we look forward to others joining in this important effort going forward.”

This year’s recipients were chosen by a community review panel from more than 170 applications. Critically, the grants went to individual artists and arts organizations whose annual budgets are less than $250,000.


“Not only are these grants going to an extremely underfunded but very vibrant segment of the arts community, they were chosen through a truly inclusive community process,” Boston Foundation president and CEO Paul S. Grogan said in a statement.

The program is meant to address issues raised during the recent Boston Creates cultural planning process and a 2016 Boston Foundation report. That report found that while smaller groups make up some 90 percent of the city’s arts organizations, they receive less than 10 percent of all contributed funding. These cash-strapped smaller groups, the report surmised, were in turn less likely to take artistic risks or produce new works.


Among the grantees is the upcoming “We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts” festival at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury.

“The LAB grant guarantees that all women creators will be paid and we will also be able to defray the expenses for the venue” of the festival, said choreographer Marsha Parrilla in a statement.

Grant recipient Ryan Edwards, who received a grant for his public art project “Sound/Sculpture,” called the support “potentially life-changing.”

“No matter how much we as artists believe in our work . . . it is nearly impossible to truly turn the corner toward professional art without the assistance of funding.”

Malcolm Gay can be reached at malcolm.gay@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay