Creative City Boston - Artist Grant

Creative City Boston invested in artists who create socially-engaged public art by providing project-specific grants and additional resources including professional development, technical assistance, and access to a peer-learning cohort.

photo by Maureen White

Creative City Boston Artist Grant provided project-specific funding to artists to create work that sparked public imagination, inspired community members to share in civic experience, and seized opportunities to creatively engage important conversations taking place in Boston’s communities. Creative City Boston funded artists directly, to invested in artists’ creative agency as civic leaders in shifting public culture in Boston to be more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

About NEFA’s Public Art Programs

Creative City Boston was one of NEFA’s grant programs supporting artists in the field of public art from 2015-2020. 

The program design for Creative City Boston was informed by learnings gathered by Animating Democracy during an assessment of the three-year pilot phase of Creative City (2015-2018). 

Learn more about the pilot phase and learning assessment 

For more current information about NEFA’s Public Art programs:

Visit the Program Page

Program Values & Goals

NEFA’s organizational values, articulated in the 2018-2021 strategic plan, guide each of the program areas of Creative City Boston.  More specifically, our value statement regarding Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) informed our program design, funding criteria and grantmaking processes: 

“NEFA values an equitable, diverse, and inclusive world, which we interpret as all people having fair access to the tools and resources, they need to realize creative and community endeavors. We acknowledge structural inequities that have excluded individuals and communities from opportunity based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, language, culture, and geography, and strive to counter those inequities in our work.” 

Creative City Boston supported the evolving field of public art from 2015-2020 by funding socially-engaged public art that also aligned with the following program values. 

Program Values 

  • Diverse cultural and artistic expressions are essential to more equitable, inclusive, and vibrant public spaces and public life. 
  • Socially engaged public art practices should authentically honor the integrity of the people, places, stories, and ideas – past, present, and future - that are engaged in the process and presentation of the artmaking.  
  • Fostering a community of practice, among artists and community partners, is essential to supporting artists taking creative risks in the public realm. 

NEFA contributed to more equitable and inclusive public culture in Boston from 2015-2020 by holding ourselves accountable to these values in Creative City Boston’s program design and grantmaking. 

Why? Because access to funding and opportunities to create public art have historically been inequitable. Because community engagement processes that reduce people, places and stories to tools for artmaking are harmful. Because we know we can’t do this work of shifting public culture alone. 

Program Goals 

By upholding these program values Creative City Boston: 

  • Supported artists as civic leaders and contributed to a public culture that truly welcomed and supported diverse artistic expressions in Boston’s public realm 
  • Explored, in partnership with our grantees and collaborators, NEFA’s unique role in cultivating a community of public art makers and supporters who authentically honor the integrity of the people, places, stories and ideas – past, present, and future - that are engaged in the process of creating or presenting public art. 


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