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The Boston Foundation names BAMS Fest founder Catherine T. Morris as Director, Arts and Culture

July 19, 2021

Boston – The Boston Foundation today announced that Catherine T. Morris, the Founder and Executive Director of Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest, has been hired as the next Director, Arts and Culture for the Foundation. Morris will begin her new role on September 7.

Catherine T. Morris
Catherine T. Morris

Over the last 20 years, Morris has spent her career supporting BIPOC artists by producing shows, creating platforms as well as mobilizing and engaging local audiences to experience the arts from a Black perspective. In her new role, she will oversee the Foundation’s multifaceted arts and culture portfolio, which includes Live Arts Boston, the Brother Thomas Fellowships, Next Steps for Boston Dance and the Free For All Endowment Fund, among others. In addition, the Foundation will continue its research, convenings and advocacy work to empower and uplift the voices of artists and arts organizations as community and civic leaders.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone with Cat’s background and brilliance joining us to advance our work in the arts at this critical time,” said Orlando Watkins, Vice President for Programs at the Boston Foundation. “Her knowledge and experience in the Greater Boston arts community, her tireless efforts to celebrate and make more visible artists and arts organizations of color and her innovative spirit to advance the work - literally creating platforms and programs - makes her a perfect fit at a time when we need to both double down on supporting artists post-pandemic and dismantle inequitable systems and barriers for both artists and arts audiences of color.”

As the Founder and Executive Director of Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest, Ms. Morris has shaped BAMS Fest as a cultural movement that breaks down racial and social barriers to arts, music and culture for communities and artists of color across Greater Boston and beyond. BAMS Fest has employed, supported and presented more than 400 local artists, provided more than 350 jobs to creative entrepreneurs, activated dozens of public spaces and has attracted over 12,000 attendees to their programs. This summer, BAMS Fest again moved its program to online platforms, providing a series of “Amplify the Soul” concerts throughout the summer for online audiences. In addition, BAMS Fest has developed programming to connect the arts to larger issues of civic engagement and the lived experiences of Black and Brown creative entrepreneurs and communities-at-large.

“With BAMS Fest and throughout her career, Cat has been a visionary connecting the arts to broader issues of equity and justice,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “She is a fearless advocate, a remarkable community builder and a visionary artistic entrepreneur. As we seek to reframe our efforts around the broader themes of equity, her understanding of the interplay of the arts, education, civic engagement, economic justice and many other areas make her a stellar choice to shape our current and future work.”

Morris is the former Director of Public Programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she diversified programming, led teams, and increased access and visibility for local and national BIPOC artists, collaborators, entertainers and audiences including Jill Scott, Phonte Coleman, Oompa, NWA Soul, Paloma Valenzuela, OJ Slaughter, and Mumu Fresh.

She has been a presenter, panelist and moderator with SPARK Boston, Podcast Garage, Berklee College of Music, Emerson College, Northeastern University, Simmons University, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, the Esplanade Association, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Museum of Fine Arts. She is a 2021 National Art Strategies Forward Thinking Fellow, a 2018 National Art Strategies Creative Community Fellow (The Barr Foundation), and a 2017-2018 Boston Neighborhood Fellow. She has served on grant review panels for Live Arts Boston, the City of Boston’s Artists in Residence program, the Cambridge Arts Council, and for the Lewis Prize for Music.

She is an alumna of Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management in Philadelphia, and received her Master of Science from Simmons University in Boston.