Grants to Boston-area Artists to Engage Public in Unexpected Ways, Places

BOSTON: As city officials ready the results of its first public cultural planning process, ten artists will get a jump on efforts to bring art to unexpected places in Boston, thanks to new grant awards announced today.

The awards, totaling $100,000, were made by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) as part of Creative City, a three-year pilot program designed to fund work that takes place in the public realm and engages public participation.

“Boston is home to amazing artists, and this is a unique opportunity to provide funding needed to bring their creative visions across the city and into the neighborhoods,” said Cathy Edwards, NEFA executive director. “Creative City is an expression of our desire to both support artists and to engage the public with art in ways and locations that are surprising.

“In this way, Creative City is a perfect complement to the City of Boston’s drive to engage the public in charting a course for the city’s cultural direction,” Edwards said.

This second round of grants will bring original art and performance to many of the city’s neighborhoods, including Mattapan, South End, East Boston, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Allston. The first round of grantees, announced in October, have produced new public art and performing arts events in Roxbury and Egleston Square.

Grants range in size from $2,500 to $10,000 to support individual artists, artist collectives, and artistic collaborations in all disciplines and with roots in diverse cultures, forms, and aesthetics. Recipient artists receive opportunities to connect with other Creative City artists for professional development.

Creative City’s first three years of operation are funded by the Barr Foundation, a Boston-based grant maker working to elevate the arts and enable creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts.

“We believe arts and creativity are essential for vibrant, vital, and engaged communities,” said San San Wong, Barr Foundation’s senior program officer for arts and creativity, “and that they can become regular, expected parts of our everyday lives. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with NEFA to bring new creative work to new, public places through Creative City.”

The next Creative City deadline is September 12, 2016. For more information about funding priorities, eligibility, and criteria, visit

New Creative City Projects:

“El Gato con Botas,” Christie Lee Gibson & OperaHub (South End and Roxbury)
Presented by OperaHub, El Gato con Botas is a touring all-ages Spanish opera that premieres at Hibernian Hall and the Villa Victoria Center for the Performing Arts in June 2016. The production is conceived by Music Director Lina Marcela Gonzalez and Stage Director Roxanna Myhrum as a genre-blending work of beautiful and antic music, comic physical performances, and fantastical puppetry that will be dramatically accessible for people of all ages and language backgrounds while celebrating the rich Spanish-language opera tradition.

“Dancing Elotes,” Veronica Robles and Carolyn Lewenberg (East Boston)
Dancing Elotes is a tribute to life and joyful youthful spirits. This project will include a bike-cart selling elotes, traditionally prepared corn served on the street in Mexico, as a literal and conceptual vehicle for cross-cultural culinary, dance and sculptural experiences at the East Boston Farmers Market. Dancing Elotes will culminate in a large-scale sculpture of traditional Latino dancers made out of the Elote husks and cobs, and dancers performing "La Danza del Permiso” (to request permission from mother earth to work the soil) around an altar at the base of sculptures to celebrate the Day of the Dead, and to honor the lives of the young victims of street violence.

“Everyman Revisited - Social Issues in Today's World,” Rosalind Thomas-Clark (Throughout Boston)
Rosalind Thomas-Clark and the TC Squared (Thomas-Clark Theatre Company, TC2) will engage teens on issues raised by the 15th Century morality play, The Summoning of Everyman, empowering them to become activists for social change. In TC2's adaptation of the National Theatre London script, four professional actors will work as Teaching Artists with an ensemble of teenage groups from Dorchester, Chinatown, Fenway, and Brighton.

“Lakou Ayiti,” Jean Appolon (South End)
Through workshops, conversations and site-specific activities that comprise a comprehensive community-based process, Jean Appolon will involve Boston-based Haitian immigrants in the creation of Lakou Ayiti, a full-length dance production. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat will guide the creation of the Lakou Ayiti narrative that will incorporate immigration stories of Haitians living in Boston as part of the production soundscape.

“Lemonade Stand,” Elisa H. Hamilton and Silvia Lopez Chavez (Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Dorchester, Mattapan)
Lemonade Stand will use a mobile lemonade kiosk as a vehicle to bring interactive art installations to the public throughout the city of Boston. In these collaborative pop-ups, the artists will invite the public to participate in an activity using lemons and lemonade as a means to engage in a narrative of how we can turn challenges into positivity in our ordinary lives.

“Running in Stillness,” Marsha Parrilla/Danza Orgánica (Roxbury)
Running in Stillness is a movement suite based on the impact of incarceration of women in our community. This new work delves into the human condition of being imprisoned, and how it affects the people imprisoned, their families, and all of us in the community. Through a close collaboration with formerly incarcerated women and daughters of incarcerated parents, this project sheds light on this often-ignored topic, with a message that is honest, complex, but simultaneously hopeful.

“SOUND/SCULPTURE” (working title), Ryan Edwards (Mattapan, South End)
This project combines sculpture and sound through the creation and fabrication of a life-sized set of building bricks. Each brick, assigned a sound and fitted with an illuminating device, will be orientated in space to determine the order of sounds, duration, and illumination. This environment will be utilized in a small gallery space, inviting the public to arrange and co-create a sculpture that in turn creates a sound score. In addition, short dance vignettes will be choreographed to explore the relationship of the sound sculpture to movement.

“Teatro en el Parque/Theater in the Park,” Escena Latina Teatro (Jamaica Plain)
Teatro en el Parque/Theater in the Park is an evening of free outdoor theater in Mozart Park, the heart of Jamaica Plain. During three weeks in July, Escena Latina Teatro (ELT) will present plays in Spanish and English, with translations in subtitles, and will facilitate bilingual workshops on the theater-making process. ELT, a volunteer-run community theatre, was founded in 1992 by a group of young actors from various Latin American countries with a goal to produce affordable quality theatre in Spanish and make it accessible to a diverse audience.

“The Pineapple Diaries (Season Two), Paloma Valenzuela (Jamaica Plain)
"The Pineapple Diaries" is a comedic web series, written and directed by Paloma Valenzuela. The show centers around the lives of three best friends: Maite, Feliz, and Catalina and their eccentric next-door neighbor, Montserrat, all living in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. "The Pineapple Diaries" follows these dynamic women in their late 20s as they discover themselves, each other and the absurdities of everyday life.

“Urban Folds,” Jillian Wiedenmayer and Mathew Martin (Allston)
Jillian Wiedenmayer and Matthew Martin aim to transform vacant spaces into thriving places through a new project called Urban Folds. Over the course of the next year, the project will revamp the Franklin Bridge into a creative community icon by engaging the neighborhood’s most active and enthusiastic citizens: its children. The project involves creative workshops at the Jackson Mann K-8 School, a community designed art installation, and will culminate in an art festival open to public.

About NEFA
NEFA builds connections among artists, arts organizations, and funders, powering the arts to energize communities in New England, the nation, and the world. NEFA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that operates in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the New England state arts agencies, with additional funding from foundations, corporations, individuals and other government agencies.

NEFA’s work is accomplished through grantmaking, services, and initiatives that strengthen and advance the national arts infrastructure. For more information, visit


CONTACT: Ann Wicks | | 617.951.0010 x534

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