New Public Art Grants Focus on Spatial Justice Across Massachusetts

$264,000 awarded to support collective imagination and public artmaking

Andrew Street Mural by artist Michael Aghahowa and youth from Gregg Neighborhood House as part of the Beyond Walls Street Art Festival | photo by Spenser Hasak

Ann has long auburn hair. She's a white lady and she wears thick framed eyeglasses. She has gold earrings that dangle and a teal poncho.
Communications Director & Co-Accessibility Coordinator

(Boston, MA) The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) is pleased to announce the recipients of two new grant opportunities for Massachusetts-based artists and collaborators to imagine and create public art that fosters more just, vibrant, and welcoming public spaces.

“In the midst of the global health pandemic, economic downturn, and continued racial injustice that 2020 has made more apparent, we are reminded that public spaces are not neutral and public art made in public spaces is not neutral either. As we reckon with complex histories and continued legacies of racism and white supremacy culture, we refocused our public art grantmaking towards spatial justice.” said Kim Szeto, NEFA public art program director, "Public art has the ability and responsibility to creatively engage important and timely conversations, bring healing to space and place, and foster public imagination for a more just version of what is possible.”

NEFA’s Spatial Justice grants are made possible with funding from the Barr Foundation. “This moment is crying out for artists who can help us imagine a better world,” said Giles Li, the Barr Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Arts & Creativity. “We are proud to partner with NEFA to support these important artists and vital communities; their work forces us to confront our own assumptions about who feels welcomed in public spaces and reaffirms what the Foundation deeply believes: that all people deserve the honor of being heard, seen, and valued.”

Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice (CISJ) grants support teams of artists, creatives, culture bearers, cultural organizers, and community-based collaborators to do the important work of imagining public art that fosters and contributes to more just futures for our public spaces and public culture. Grants range from $2,000-$5,000.

“The CISJ grant is a welcome disruption to the status quo," says Jean Mineo, CISJ grantee and collective imagination team lead at the Cultural Alliance of Medfield. "Rather than focusing on a project or program, CISJ is supporting our process of building equitable relationships among our partners to reimagine the watershed at the Medfield State Hospital as a place of healing.”

The 12 Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice awards are:

In an alley, an alter - with candles, yellow marigolds, sugar skulls, and other offerings - is shaped like a circular pyramid.
Community Ofrenda and Calaveras De Coronavirus, Holyoke MA | photo by Attack Bear Press

Public Art for Spatial Justice (PASJ) grants support artists and artistic collaborations to create public art in Massachusetts that fosters public imagination and contributes to more just futures for our public spaces and public culture. Grants range from $5,000-10,000.

The 21 Public Art for Spatial Justice projects are:

Lean more about NEFA’s Public Art program.

Two dancers, in sun hats, sit and dance in a brick entryway.
JAE company dancers rehearsing Traka in costume at Medfield State Hospital. Dancers utilize the space at MSH inventively, using entryways to signify transition, while costumes portray vivid differences in emotion, different stages of healing, and again, the disconnection from each other | photo by Jean Appolon
Painting of three black folks leaning against each other, in front of a floral pink and white background.
"Homeland" produced by Michelle Collado and Elevated Thought (2019) | photo by Elevated Thought
A woman, in a white head wrap and blue dress, stanfds before a doorway with flower boxes and carved lambs.
Michelle Falcón Fontánez' "Call to Our Ancestors" | photo courtesy of the artist

About NEFA

The New England Foundation for the Arts invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation.  NEFA accomplishes this by granting funds to artists and cultural organizations; connecting them to each other and their audiences; and analyzing their economic contributions. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England’s state arts agencies, and private foundations. Learn more at


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