Live Arts Boston to provide nearly $1 million in grants and support to 50 artists in commitment to arts equity

More than three-quarters of funded projects in 2022 led by artists of color

June 30, 2022

Explore LAB 2022

The Boston Foundation and Barr Foundation today announced that 50 performing artists, arts groups and organizations will be sharing nearly $1 million in grants and other support as part of the 2022 class of Live Arts Boston (LAB). Since 2017, LAB has made 360 grants to artists to produce and perform new works. Each 2022 grantee receives $15,000, and access to an expanded portfolio of support from the Boston Foundation and Dunamis.  The artist partners, representing a cross-section of performing arts styles and genres, were chosen using a community review process that included nearly 50 local artists and arts administrators, including a number of former Live Arts Boston grantees.

“In our sixth year, we are excited to continue to evolve LAB to be a more effective partner for equity in the performing arts across Greater Boston, particularly as so many of these brilliant performers continue to find new footing after two years of COVID,” said M. Lee Pelton, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “By pairing grants with a menu of other supports, we seek to empower the artists to define and access what they need beyond capital as we create a vibrant ecosystem for arts in Boston.”

A strong message for racial equity

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the movements for racial justice, Live Arts Boston doubles down on its commitment to highlighting and uplifting the work of BIPOC and immigrant artists. In this cohort, 78 percent of the grantees identify as artists of color or are groups and organizations led by artists of color. In response to feedback from past LAB artists, the LAB team has increased the investment in project advising, skill-building workshops, networking opportunities, and other support available to grantees in partnership with Boston-based Dunamis, a BIPOC-led professional development organization specializing in training and support for emerging artists and arts-managers.

Past offerings have included group and one-on-one consulting, workshops on numerous topics including artist management and media engagement, and the launch of Dexter’s L.A.B., a podcast series that highlights LAB grantees for their work and unique perspectives.

“Live Arts Boston is about more than just getting works on the stage,” said Catherine T. Morris, Director for Arts and Culture at the Boston Foundation. “It’s about breaking down the artificial and often intentional barriers that have made creating a lively, sustainable arts sector for artists of color difficult if not impossible. That means breaking down the barriers to access for rehearsal and performance space. It means paying and investing in artists to create a culture where arts and artists can be more effective and sustainable.”

Since 2017, Live Arts Boston funding has made it possible for recipients to provide millions of dollars in direct payments to artists working on their projects. In addition, the 360 grants since the beginning of the program have created a network of shared and peer resources for local artists across all performing arts disciplines and genres. A recent analysis found that more than half of LAB funds were spent to pay artists and creatives who support their work - in commissions, collaborations and rehearsal and performance compensation.

“In times like today, the role of arts and artists to share powerful truths and force us to confront our racist past is more critical than ever,” said San San Wong, Director of Arts and Creativity at the Barr Foundation. “By empowering and supporting these brilliant artists as the leaders they are, we can begin to repair the wrongs of the past and build a future where our communities reflect the full range of cultures, traditions, and voices they contain.”

Facts about the 2022 LAB Cohort:

Number of grantees: 50

Grants to individual artists: 24
Grants to groups and organizations: 26

Percentage of groups and organizations led by BIPOC: 69%*
Percentage of individual artists identifying as BIPOC: 87%**

Grant recipients by self-described career-level:
Early career: 26%; Mid-career: 54%; Experienced: 21%

Grant recipients by primary discipline: 
Music: 52%; Dance: 18%; Spoken Word: 10%; Theater: 8%; Opera/Musical Theater: 6%;Performance Art: 4%; Traditional/Folk Art: 2%

Grantees receiving LAB support for the first time: 62%
Grantees who had never previously applied for a grant of any kind: 12%

Artists in the 2021 LAB Cohort represent neighborhoods across the City of Boston, as well as 16 other communities – Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Dedham, Malden, Medford, Milton, Natick, Newton, Randolph, Somerville, and Winthrop. A full list of the 2021 grantees is attached.

* : This percentage was calculated as the number of grantees who identified a majority of the lead members of their project team as non-white

** : Percentage of individual artists defining themselves as: Black/African American, Asian/Asian American, Spanish/Hispanic/Latinx, Middle Eastern, North African, or Multi-Racial

Name of primary applicant/group/organization:

Artistic Discipline:

Brief Project Description:


Spoken Word

Adobo-Fish-Sauce will practice a public display of process as product by documenting the journey of writing, developing, and the first performance of a new cooking and poetry show.

ANIKAYA/Wendy Jehlen


I will complete and perform the work The Women Gather, with a creative ensemble made up equally of international and local women-identified artists and conduct workshops for local community members culminating in a two-week run at the Strand Theater.

Haasan Barclay

Music: Rock/Pop

Haasan Barclay's next project will be a full-length album that portrays the perspective of a black man discovering his place in the ever-changing socio-political landscape that is modern life in America. A major aspect of this work includes highlighting and subverting the racialized connotations of genre and aesthetic.

Karen A. Bell

Music: Singer-Songwriter

Let Me Be Free to Love is a project empowering black women over 40. I will host monthly zoom meetings with black women and record a collection of original songs for a live performance. The project will build community, raise awareness and amplify voices of black women to larger audiences.

Kahleil Blair

Music: Hip Hop/R&B

I will be releasing a visual album entitled Box Office with a staggered release schedule that presents a new song and music video every month (for 6 months), drawing inspiration from my favorite 80's & 90's movies.

Boston Dance Theater/ Jessie Jeanne Stinnett


The Carol Kaye Project is an evening length dance performance, comprising the fourth work in a multi-year program that provides diverse cultural perspectives on seminal bassist Carol Kaye’s life, highlights diverse women in dance, and distinctively integrates live music as well as its musicians into the choreography.

Cambridge Hip-Hop Collective

Music: Hip Hop/R&B

The Bridgeside Cypher is a platform for local rappers, singers, and musicians to collaborate in a public, improvised format. We encourage artists of all backgrounds, ages, and experience levels to participate in helping build confidence in an inclusive environment without fear of judgment or criticism from the public.

Will Dailey

Music: Singer-Songwriter

I will present a live stream of a collaborative album recording process that celebrates the vital importance of a collective in making music.

Danza Orgánica


Our goal is to bring three-dimensional life to Floaters, a series of poems rooted in the experiences of the working class in Massachusetts, with a focus on the immigrant and Puerto Rican experience. We will do so through dance theater, with original live music, spoken word performance, and multimedia elements.

Departure Arts

Music: Jazz

Departure Arts will create a new music/concert series supporting mentorship in the Boston performing arts community.

Patrick Despage

Music: Hip Hop/R&B

"Life is Study, Life is Steady" will be a compilation project based on connection, collaboration, and community within Boston, accompanied by a live showcase of music, dance, fashion and film.

Leo Eguchi

Music: Classical/New Music

‘UNACCOMPANIED’ will present a range of personal stories of immigration and identity told through music, composed by nine immigrant and first-generation Americans. The works will be performed on solo cello, alone on an empty stage - the metaphor of the lone cello giving common voice to our many unaccompanied migration stories.


Traditional and Folk Performing Arts

I will produce arrangements of traditional songs of the Anatolian-Greek refugees for voice and classical string quartet with Grammy-nominated arranger Gonzalo Grau and present them in concert in Boston in April 2023. I aim to preserve my great-grandparents’ musical heritage, both Greek-Anatolian refugees, and integrate it within classical music contexts.

Sadiq Ervin

Music: Hip Hop/R&B

The Blair B*tch Project (BBP) is a Halloween Party & Concert highlighting creative women in the Greater Boston Area. Our goal is to secure a high-profile independent artist that embodies unapologetic Black feminine energy and place them center stage alongside prominent creative women in Boston.

Grace Givertz

Music: Singer-Songwriter

I will be putting out my second full length indie folk record that will only feature artists from marginalized communities (i.e. LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, BIPOC). All shows and tours associated with the record will also feature artists of those communities.

Guerilla Opera

Opera/Musical Theater

Guerilla Opera will present HER:alive|un|dead, a concert-length media opera written by Emily Koh following three generations of Asian women in a single family. Through birth and death cycles and encounters in the "in-between, these women expound on gender biases and discriminatory practices upon people of Asian descent.

Quinn Gutman and Leo Balkovetz

Opera/Musical Theater

“Violetta” will be an opera resetting Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” to 1989 New York City, telling the story of a relationship between Violetta, a transwoman who’s HIV positive, and Alexander, a transman who had run away from his religious midwestern family.

Tim Hall

Music: Jazz

Prophecy explores nuances of sound and voice as a multi-disciplined musician, poet, and producer displayed over 3 EP’s that disrupt the parameters of genre and artistic identity. The first installment - Prophecy: my now was predicted - is the welcoming celebration for memories, lessons, experiences, and sounds that shape my creative voice.

Hoopla Productions

Spoken Word

Open Your Heart: Immigrant Stories from Boston and Beyond will be a live show featuring East Boston youth from the organization, Zumix. They’ll perform personal stories about their journeys as immigrants/children of immigrants and share stories from interviews they’ve conducted with East Boston residents, and how they’re impacted by them.

Brenda Huggins, Marc Hoffeditz, and Sonja DuToit Tengblad

Opera/Musical Theater

Music! Puppets! Magic Telescopes! “Mr. Twister And the Tale of Tornado Alley," a new opera for family audiences is a community-centered Clean Air Action project that will be developed and performed in outdoor venues across Greater Boston in partnership with local chapters of the Mothers Out Front Climate Action network.

Kantika: Tutti Druyan, Shaqed Druyan and Edmar Colón

Music: Folk/World

“Kantika,” which means “song” in the endangered language of Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), is an album that combines portions of Ladino traditional songs with new material written in English. “Kantika” is a collaborative work between Tutti Druyan, Shaqed Druyan, and Edmar Colón.


Music: Singer-Songwriter

I’ll be hosting a unique, interactive performance/engagement and EP series that includes live music and other healing modalities to hold a safe and authentic space for the mental decolonization of BIPOC. The goal is to assist intergenerational healing and empower in the form of artistic expression, engagement, movement and reflection.

Rebecca Kopycinski

Music: Singer-Songwriter

I will produce an immersive theater event including live music performance and a studio recording of the music. This will be the next Episode in the ThotBot storyverse and center around the idea of mindfulness and mental health.

Kotoko Brass

Music: Folk/World

Funding from the The Boston Foundation’s Live Arts Boston grant will enable Kotoko Brass to finish recording and then release our first full-length album, while engaging our audience in community-driven album release event.

Matthew Lau

Music: Classical/New Music

This project includes the recording and production of my debut album featuring new commissions for contemporary solo vibraphone & a cross-genre groundbreaking work with autoharp and electronics. Follows by an in-person recital for the launch of the album, and extensive touring.

Erin Lerch, Josh Glenn-Kayden, Alison Qu, & Kim Klasner


We will write, develop, and produce the third play in Erin Lerch’s Legion Cycle (a series of queer, stubbornly optimistic science fiction stories), following a radio DJ as she becomes the unlikely figurehead of human resistance in the face of an apocalyptic alien invasion.

Alanna Logan


Megatron and I (representing Slaughter House) will present a show based on Megatron’s legacy that was left behind during his 10+ year long incarceration. The show will consist of an autobiography, testimonials, time-lapsed footage, and live dance presented on screen and in theater.

Luminarium Dance (Kim Holman)


Common Circus is an evening of dance theatre and a carnival—all-in-one. It serves not just to place household labor in a high-spectacle three-ring format, but also to question gender and performance industry norms, to entertain and engage viewers, and to de-mystify dance.

Stephanie Mckay

Music: Singer-Songwriter

I will present a live showcase of new music at a live music venue, theatre or via livestream based on the narratives of BIPOC women in leadership and activism. This will be an evening of storytelling, music and photography celebrating and centering the present history of BIPOC women.

Guy Mendilow Ensemble & Regie Gibson: Radio Play(s) Series

Spoken Word

Through spoken word, theatrically projected sand animation and string quartet/piano/vocal score, Radio Play(s) Episode 3, “Giants," celebrates the extraordinary stature of often overlooked people in our midst: Those who choose kindness, creative courage, generosity and grace despite upheaval.



Monkeyhouse will present pop-up performances of _____[10], an interdisciplinary project created by karen Krolak and inspired by her family’s tangled linguistic history as well as their experiences with disability and grief.

Letta Neely


"Pulling It All Into the Current" will be a one-person (many characters) theatre/spoken word piece revolving focusing on the duplicity of the u.s. as both HOME and a polital/ spiritual /literal Minefield.

Vadim Neselovskyi

Music: Jazz

I will present extended composition "UKRAINIAN SYMPHONY" as my reflection on the current crisis in my home country, Ukraine — meaningful musical experience that will help the listeners to connect deeply to the tragedy of Russian invasion. It will speak about the power of compassion as a foundation of humanity


Music: Electronic/EDM

Waterworks 2023 will be a multi-day festival of original site-responsive works of experimental music that makes use of the extraordinary acoustics and unique layout of Boston’s Waterworks Museum. The festival will feature performances by local, regional, and national artists, as well as short-term sound installations.

Cliff Notez

Music: Hip Hop/R&B

All us in Wonderland is a collection of EPs presented in multi-dimensional/Multi-Genre formats, completing the Cliff Notez Trilogy exploring themes of Love, Compassion and Friendship while offering closure to previous themes from Why the Wild Things are & When the Sidewalk Ends.

Porsha Olayiwola

Spoken Word

WET is a theater experiment featuring music, dance, and poetry based on a collection of poems with the same title. This performance seeks to engage Black identity with both water and queerness. The text is an exercise in Toni Morrison’s ‘rememory.’ The performance is the body remembering what was forgotten.

Jenny Oliver


Through movement, drawing, and discussion, BELONGING will be an experiential performance workshop series that will creatively engage audiences in the questions: “What does it mean to Belong to a person, to place, to yourself?”


Performance Art

I will compose a poetry-infused (it’s been so long), Soul-inflected Hip-Hop/R&B Album, and an accompanying one-woman show for Champ Pain, about navigating chasing a dream in a small city while occupying my particular existence in it.



Magic Pearl is an original shadow puppet production with a story based on an ancient Chinese folktale, featuring live original music of flute, cello, and percussion. The story follows two unlikely friends in Dragon and Phoenix who learn to cooperate, deal with loss, and gracefully embrace change.

PLACE Project


To celebrate Seymour Planetarium’s 85th anniversary as the oldest planetarium in the nation, PLACE Project is creating a series of dance-theatre works inspired by astronomy-based mythology from around the world. These works will be presented both at Springfield Science Museum and at nontraditional venues in Greater Boston.

Renaissance Men

Music: Classical/New Music

"Renmen" is a music performance created by Renaissance Men which explores Haitian music for tenor and bass voices through both folkloric and art music avenues. Renaissance Men will develop, rehearse, and perform "Renmen" at The Strand Theatre in Dorchester.


Spoken Word

The 'Crown of Times' will be a multimodal production focusing on creating a politicized retrospective of Black cultural hairstyles starting from the 60s to the current decade, showcasing how the policing of Black hair is an extension of the power to dehumanize Black people.


Music: Jazz

I will produce a musical showcase that will display live performances featuring my live Trap Standards album. The event will also promote live visual artist and culinary art vendors from the Boston community to display their crafts and goods. The showcase will be called Trap Jazz Brunch.

Sheffield Chamber Players

Music: Classical/New Music

This performance project explores how issues of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ relate to identity through the commissioning of a new work for String Quartet by Kenji Bunch alongside the presentation of the personal history of activist/Japanese Internment Camp survivor David Sakura, and public conversation between Sakura, the artists, and audiences.

Catherine Siller

Performance Art

“The Mysteries of Life: a Queer Nature Walk” is a multimedia installation and performance that uses true stories of animals’ social interactions and mating rituals to challenge heteronormativity and affirm queerness and transness as natural.

Lonnie Stanton & The Click


Emotive Land will be an augmented reality app. This site-specific installation will allow audience members to watch dances on their smartphones at sites along the Charles River. The project is centering nature's resilience and encouraging all to consider a relationship to land, rooted in stewardship versus hierarchical ownership.

Dayenne C Walters


I am developing a full-length play on the life of Charlotte Forten. She was an activist, journalist, and poet in the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements of the 19th century. I will partner with The Poet’s Theatre to present a staged reading of the play in June 2023.

RJ Walters, representing The Chocolate Factory Band

Music: Hip Hop/R&B

We are creating a live music series called City x Unplugged which highlights the stories of othered artists, (with a focus on Hip-Hop) through a live concert and ted-x - meets- Moth story telling.

Winsor Music

Music: Classical/New Music

Winsor Music will collaborate with pianist/composer Kevin Harris to present a concert featuring a premiere of his new work, “Pulse.” We aim to stretch our repertoire and foster connection among disparate audiences using improvised and written music, with jazz and classical musicians performing alongside each other.

Fredrick Woodard

Music: Jazz

The project I'm seeking funding for is called the Dudley Jazz Festival. This is a reoccurring event held every year(except 2020) since 2016. It is a festival that will feature 4 bands. Each band will perform a 60 to 90 minute set. This will be an outdoor event.

*Please note: While artists were asked for a primary discipline, many Live Arts Boston projects involve or combine multiple artistic disciplines.