Live Arts Boston (LAB)

Want to hear more details about the Live Arts Boston program from Director Allyson Esposito?
Click to watch a general overview and answers to most frequently asked questions.

  Live Arts Boston

Barr Foundation

The Boston Foundation, with support and partnership from the Barr Foundation, is excited to announce the inaugural of Live Arts Boston (LAB, formerly Catalyzing Creativity).  Designed to respond directly to the needs articulated by Boston's arts community through Boston Creates, LAB provides critically needed, flexible, project-specific grants to Greater Boston’s performing artists and small nonprofit performing arts organizations to create, produce or present artistic work for Greater Boston audiences.

Funding will be directed to work in the following performing arts disciplines: dance, theater, spoken word, performance art, circus arts, certain specified genres of music* or any multi-disciplinary combination of the above.

*Live Arts Boston will prioritize support for projects featuring the following genres/disciplines of music: new music of any kind/genre, including new contemporary classical and new contemporary chamber music, experimental, avante garde, jazz, folk, popular, rock, blues, and global/world.  Please also see other funding opportunities at the Boston Foundation, including Next Steps for Dance (providing multi-layered support for Greater Boston choreographers) and the Free for All Fund (supporting classical, orchestral music and related cultural events provided free of charge to Greater Boston audiences).

LAB will provide:

  • Up to $15,000 in project-specific funds to artists, collaborators, unincorporated groups or bands, and small performing arts organizations with annual budgets less than $250,000, to create, produce, or present artistic work for Greater Boston audiences.
  • Learning opportunities for a cohort "lab" of grantees around topics such as artistic advancement, business, marketing, fundraising skills, etc.
  • Number of Grants: It is anticipated that at least 50 projects will be supported during this first pilot year.

Funding Priorities

Funding priority will be given to applicants focused on:

  • Creating, producing, or presenting new work; for the purposes of this grant program, "new work" will be defined as original or interpretive work/projects that have not been previously presented to a general audience; OR
  • Creating, producing, or presenting culturally-specific work that upholds cultural traditions or provides opportunities to share traditional, cultural works with Greater Boston audiences (with particular priority given to traditions that have not received significant historical philanthropic support); OR
  • Forging new, unique, interdisciplinary partnerships or collaborations; OR
  • Diversifying program offerings or pushing creative boundaries through experimentation, risk-taking and innovation.

Program Guidelines

  • All proposals must be for a single, distinct artistic project or connected set of activities. The strongest applications will have a clear artistic goal for the project, a clear timeline, and a predetermined estimated cost. The project can have multiple components or include a series of events, but the components or events must be tied to a single, cohesive project. 
  • If awarded, funds may be used to support any artistic, programmatic, administrative, or marketing activities directly related to or in support of the proposed project, but may not be used for fundraising activities.
  • Public Performance Requirement: Applicants must make their projects available to Greater Boston audiences through some form of public performance or presentation (e.g., show, concert, workshop, works-in-progress showing, reading, gig, open mic) before December 31, 2017. The event can be free or ticketed, open to the general public or to a limited, specified audience. However, applicants will be asked to identify early plans for this performance or presentation as part of the grant application, and to note clear marketing/outreach plans for the event to ensure attendance/participation.
  • Presentation of Local Artists Requirement: For those applying as presenters of a performance or a festival or other shared bill event, note that at least 50% of the artists presented as part of the project must reside and work in Greater Boston.
  • Touring/Travel:  We recognize that artists need to share their work as widely as possible to build their audience. Proposals may include requests for grant support to travel/tour the proposed project outside of the Greater Boston area. However, the project must also be shown/presented/performed in Greater Boston before December 31, 2017.
  • Applicants are eligible to receive funding through LAB for up to three consecutive years for three unique projects before being required to take a year off from applying.
  • Final Report:  Awardees will be required to complete a simple final report at the end of the grant period detailing the ways in which funds were used. Receipts for expenditures will not need to be submitted, but documentation (e.g., video, photos, marketing materials) from relevant public performances of the proposed project will be required. More information about final reporting will be provided to awardees when grants are disbursed.

Eligibility Requirements


To be eligible to apply for LAB, grant applicants:

  • Must reside full-time and make work within the Boston Foundation’s catchment area, defined here.
  • Must be at least 18 years old;
  • Must be a professional artist or creative entrepreneur. The word “professional” refers to the nature of the artist’s commitment to his or her art form as one of his or her primary vocations, rather than the amount of financial remuneration earned through the art form;
  • Can be at any career level (new, emerging, mid-career, mature), but must have had at least a one year history of creating and presenting professional-level work for an audience in a public setting (the work cannot have been created or presented while the artist was an undergraduate or post-secondary student in an arts-related program);
  • May not be currently enrolled in an arts-related undergraduate, college or university program. Currently enrolled graduate students are eligible to apply, regardless of whether they are studying to obtain an arts-related degree or not.  However, for those in an arts-related graduate degree program, the proposed LAB project must not be a part of the requirements for that degree program.

Note About Fiscal Agency

All grant recipients that do not presently have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status will be taxed on the amount awarded, receiving a 1099 in the beginning of 2018 for 2017 taxes. Depending on income bracket, taxes on the awarded amount may be up to 30% of the awarded grant. Artists and unincorporated collaboratives, groups, ands bands should consider utilizing a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) status when applying.

While any nonprofit can act as a fiscal sponsor for another, provided both parties to the sponsorship agree to an arrangement in advance, several local and national organizations specialize in serving as fiscal sponsors, including:


The Boston Foundation will accept LAB applications from groups of artists and collaborators.  We define a “collaborator” to be an artist that is a co-owner of a project and a generative part of the team, with some level of artistic control over the outcome. A collaborator is NOT someone who provides services on a “work for hire” or independent contractor basis. 

Groups and collaborators should apply jointly and submit a single application. Note: Unless funds are directed to a fiscal sponsor (see above), one collaborator or group member will ultimately need to serve as the “primary applicant” and, if the project is funded, will be the person who directly receives payment. The primary applicant will be required to pay Federal taxes on the grant funds received.

It is NOT required that all collaborators or group member meet the eligibility requirements listed above for artists; however, the primary applicant must meet ALL eligibility requirements (i.e., the primary applicant must reside within the Boston Foundation’s catchment area, not be currently enrolled as an undergraduate student in an arts-related program, be at least 18 years of age, and have had a one-year history of public presentation).


To be eligible to apply for LAB, organization applicants must:

  • Have a primary mission focused on arts and culture;
  • Be a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the State of Massachusetts; 
  • Have a business address within The Boston Foundation’s catchment area;
  • Have had an annual operating budget of $250,000 or less during the organization’s most recently completed fiscal year;
  • NOT have received funding through another TBF grant program within any of our five impact areas within the last calendar year. If you have applied for support through these impact areas within the last 12 months, please wait until 12 months after your last application to apply for a LAB grant. Applicants who are NOT awarded a grant during this 2016/2017 LAB pilot grant cycle may apply again for the next (2017/2018) grant cycle. Note that LAB grant recipients may receive funding three consecutive years in a row before being required to take a year off from funding.

Program Timeline

Launch Date: September 30, 2016

Application Deadline: November 15, 2016, MIDNIGHT (EST).  Please note: Our offices will be closed at 5 PM today.  Queries about the program or the application will not be answered after 5 PM (EST).

Decisions Anticipated: Late January 2017

Grant Period: Funds must be spent between January 1 and December 31, 2017. Note that the project does not need to be completed in its entirety during the grant period, but the project must be made available to/presented to the public in some form before December  31, 2017.

Submit an Application

Click the button below to submit your application.


Click here to download the 2016 LAB Grant Project Budget Template.

Information Sessions

The Foundation invites all interested applicants to learn more about both programs and ask questions at a series of upcoming information sessions this month. Though they will be held in different locations throughout Greater Boston, please note that the content presented at each session will be the same and you need only attend one session.

Dates, times, locations and registration links can be found on our website. Additional session dates will be added in the coming weeks. Please register at last 24 hours in advance of each session. If registration for a particular date is full, please consider registering for another session.

Review Process

An internal Boston Foundation team will review all submitted applications to ensure they have met the LAB eligibility requirements. All eligible applications will be reviewed by a panel of grant reviewers made up of artists, arts administrators, and other experts in the philanthropic or performing arts fields. Consideration is given to ensuring the panel reflects the diversity of Greater Boston and its artists.  The panel includes:

Elsa Mosquera-Sterenberg, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción

Kimberly Dawson, Actors’ Shakespeare Project

Summer Williams, Company One

Riley Watts, dance artist; Strut Dance

Dillon Bustin, Hibernian Hall, Madison Park Development Corporation

Kara Elliott-Ortega, Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, City of Boston

Elle Borders; theater artist

Kim Setzo, New England Foundation For the Arts

Mindy Fried, Hoopla Productions; JP Porchfest 

Eva Rosenberg, Outside the Box, Harvard Ed Portal

Ben Hires, Boston Children’s Chorus

Ramona Alexander, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative; artist

David  Henry, Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston

Sarah Mae Gibbons, dance artist; New Movement Collaborative

Georgia Lyman, theater artist; freelance producer; Outside the Box

Diana Jacobs-Komisar, the Huntington Theatre Company

Joyce Rosen Friedman

Danny Mekonnen, Debo Band

Review Criteria

Each proposed project will be reviewed against the following criteria: artistic merit, quality of the proposed project, feasibility of the proposed project, alignment with/impact of the project on the applicant(s)' career trajectory or organizational goals, and clarity and specificity of public performance.


Should you have questions about either of these grant programs, please attend one of the upcoming Information Sessions (schedule can be found here). If your question is not answered in an Information Session, or if you are unable to attend, please email your question to Aimee Scorziello at