About the Creative City Grant Program

Visit the Creative City Program page to learn more about funding priorities, panelists, advisors, and more.



Eligible lead applicants must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Reside within I-495 in Massachusetts
  • Be a practicing artist.  Artists of all artistic discipline(s) and with roots in diverse cultures, forms and aesthetics are welcome to apply. Examples include but are not limited to dance, music, visual art, literary art, or multimedia art.
  • Be either an individual artist OR an artist on behalf of an unincorporated artist collective or artistic collaboration. Culturally specific, immigrant, traditional cultural practitioner groups that feature a strong lead artist are encouraged to apply.

Eligible projects must:

  • Be sited in the city of Boston and take place in the public realm with minimal barriers, if any, to public access.
  • Have a letter of support that demonstrates an existing relationship with at least one Boston-based community partner and their intentions to support the implementation, artistic process, and/or presentation of the artist’s project.
  • Have plans for public engagement. Examples of public engagement may include, but are not limited to: community involvement in a process-oriented practice, public participation in the implementation/presentation, and/or plans for accessibility.
  • Have plans to implement and complete the proposed project/phase of the project during the grant year (See Grant Recipient Expectations & Requirements, section below, for more details about the grant year). 

Projects that are ineligible:

  • Projects that include ongoing organizational support for a lead artist’s employer/organization in the application budget.
  • Projects that have closed audiences and/or have barriers to access for the general public (e.g. artist residencies in schools for in-school teaching).
  • Projects that are led by community organizing collectives or local nonprofit-organizations (However, artists may apply for artist-led elements of community organizing or community-based creative placemaking efforts.)
  • Projects led by students that are affiliated with course credits or requirements for the program enrolled.
  • Projects with a lead applicant who is a current Creative City grantee. If an artist is currently a Creative City grantee, he/she/they must wait until the end of the current grant year and the completion of their current project before being eligible to participate as a lead applicant on another project. Artists may participate in multiple applications as collaborators or participants.

For questions regarding eligibility please contact Creative City Staff at creativecity@nefa.org.

Funding Criteria & Priorities

Creative City intends to fund artist projects that meet each of the following funding criteria and demonstrate alignment with our funding priorities.

Funding Criteria:
Artistic Strength

  • Exemplifies strong artistic expression and vision of the lead artist in the proposed project
  • Proposed project demonstrates an opportunity for lead artist to develop his/her/their work and practice
  • Interest from the lead artist in participating in a learning community as part of the grantee cohort (more information about the grantee cohort under “Grant Recipient Requirements”)

Public Engagement

  • Public access to the project and rationale for site selection
  • Engages community members and encourages public participation in the artistic process and/or presentation of this project
  • Demonstrates interest and support from a potential community partner(s) who may assist with the implementation, artistic process, and/or presentation of the artist’s project


  • Demonstrates capacity to carry out and complete the project within the grant year and with available resources through the project budget and timeline.

*NEFA staff will provide technical assistance related to permitting, access and other public presentation issues, but NEFA will not act as co-producer of the project.

Funding Priorities:
Creative City prioritizes projects that:

  • Increase access to the arts and cultural equity by valuing the diversity of the city of Boston
  • Support Boston area artists demonstrating deep connections in communities within the city of Boston.
  • Demonstrate diverse and strong artistic expression
  • Support art in areas of the city of Boston that are historically under-served and under-resourced
  • Support art in sites, spaces and contexts that may not typically be viewed as places for artistic activity and/or to recast conventional arts spaces to be seen in new ways
  • Engage public imagination and inspire community members to share in civic experience. 
  • Seize an opportunity to creatively engage important conversations taking place in Boston’s communities 

Process & Deadlines

The Creative City pilot program has funded five cohorts of grantees, including awards made in the fall of 2017.  The next phase of the Creative City pilot is an intensive learning assessment through summer 2018, aimed at gathering and sharing lessons from the first five cohorts.  Future program plans and deadlines will be announced at the conclusion of this assessment.  Creative City also offers professional development opportunities for artists – please check NEFA's event page for upcoming events.

Online Application & Instructions

Future program plans and deadlines will be posted following the completion of the Creative City pilot learning assessment in Fall 2018.

Grant Recipient Expectations & Requirements

Creative City Grantees are EXPECTED to:

  • Complete the proposed project during the designated grant year:
    • Grant Cycle #4
      • Application Deadline: February 21, 2017
      • Grant Year: May 1, 2017-May 31-2018
    • Grant Cycle #5
      • Application deadline: September 25, 2017
      • Grant Year: December 1, 2017-December 31, 2018
  • If the project cannot be completed in this timeframe, an interim report requesting a project timeline extension must be submitted to NEFA for approval.

  • Participate in two cohort gatherings: Cohort gatherings will generally take place within the first two months of the beginning of the grant year, and within the two months leading up to the end of the grant year.  These are opportunities are for artists to get to know each other and the resources that are available to the cohort, and to build a sense of community within the cohort.  NEFA staff will work with each cohort to determine the best possible dates for each gathering.

  • Participate in optional professional development and technical assistance opportunities.  Creative City staff are working with grantees to shape the types of resources that are available to grantees.  Although it is not required to participate in all of these opportunities it is highly encouraged.  Examples of potential opportunities include but may not be limited to: access to program advisors, workshops and coaching from the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston, and a marketing and PR consultant.

See grant contract agreements for further details regarding grantee expectations.

Grant Disbursement
Grant disbursement is made in two installments:

  1. Upon receipt of signed contract agreements, NEFA will issue 75% of the total award amount to the artist or the artist’s fiscal agent
  2. After the project is successfully executed, grantees are required to complete a final grantee report. Upon approval of the final grantee report and supplemental materials, NEFA will issue the final 25%

Major changes to your workplan, budget or project concept may impact your final payment. Please notify NEFA staff as soon as possible regarding these changes.  Major changes may require the completion of an interim report and approval by NEFA staff, prior to completion of the project and final grantee report in order to issue the final installment of the award (25% of the total award). If you have questions regarding changes to your project please contact Kim Szeto (kszeto@nefa.org or 617-951-0010 x518) or Deidra Montgomery (dmontgomery@nefa.org or 617-951-0010 x532) as soon as possible.

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Looking For Projects In Your Neighborhood of Boston?

View our list of Creative City supported public art projects.

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