Live Arts Boston 2020

In June 2020, Live Arts Boston welcomed its fourth cohort of grantees, a diverse cohort of 60 performing artists, groups, and small organizations that shared in $770,000 in grants to create, produce, and present new works. The artist partners, representing a cross-section of performing arts styles and genres, were chosen from more than 340 applicants through an open community review process that included nearly 50 national and local artists and arts administrators.

For the second consecutive year, more than 70 percent of those receiving funding were projects led by people of color, and roughly half of individual artists in the program were immigrants or new Americans. In addition to their grant funds, the grantees received project advising, skill-building workshops, networking opportunities, support for professional development and a supplemental pandemic relief grant of $2,500, which together brought the total support for the project in 2020 to over $1 million.

Facts about the 2020 LAB Cohort:

Number of grantees: 60
Grants to individual artists: 31
Grants to groups and organizations: 29

Percentage of groups and organizations led by POC: 61%*
Percentage of individual artists identifying as POC: 84%**

Grant recipients by self-described career-level:
Early career: 31%; Mid-career: 22%; Experienced: 47%

Grant recipients by primary discipline:
Music: 48%; Dance: 18%; Performance Art: 17%; Theater: 7%; Traditional/Folk Art: 5%; Spoken Word: 3%; Opera/Musical Theater: 2%

Grantees receiving LAB support for the first time: 67%

Grantees who had never previously applied for a grant of any kind: 25%

* : This percentage was calculated as the number of grantees who identified a majority of the 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

Meet the 2020 LAB grantees


3nity will be recording an album in which the songs will represent their influences and cultures: Latin, African, and American.

Abilities Dance Boston

Abilities Dance Boston is recreating the Firebird ballet with disabled and nondisabled artists across the country.

Ana Masacote
Ana Masacote will present Queer Bodies in Motion, a socially-conscious Afro-Latin dance project that seeks to draw attention to discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community via impromptu public social dances and a flash mob.
Andrea Charalambous
Andrea Charalambous and her group "Antheia" will be creating their debut album which will feature the traditional music of her hometown, Cyprus.
ANIKAYA/Wendy Jehlen
ANIKAYA, directed by Wendy Jehlen, will be creating a new multidisciplinary performance work, The Women Gather, that is a ritual of healing, a gathering of women, and a space for the conjuring of magic.
Anna Myer/
On the heels of touring Invisible: Imprints of Racism, beheard is restructuring Watermark, a work-in-progress dance that addresses ideas of community/unity, as part of a larger project called the Being Heard Initiative.
Artists Theater of Boston
T(estosterone), a new play by Kit Yan and Simone Wolff, follows two trans and gender non-conforming best friends as Blue gets on T to transition and Lee gets off T to get pregnant.
Ashton Lites
Ashton Lites and Stackin Stylez Freestyle Dance Culture Boston will be creating a game-style concept freestyle dance battle/showcase to celebrate the history and future development of the freestyle dance culture in Boston.
Asian American Playwright Collective (AAPC)
AAPC promotes the perspectives of its Asian American and Asian Pacific Islander theatre artists through its development process, readings, and anthology publications, with the goal of connecting with theater companies to produce their original works.
Beantown Lockers
The Beantown Lockers will host an interactive series of flea market-based dance events called the Boogaloo Bazaar, in collaboration with a rotating line-up of Boston area dance groups.
Brain Arts Organization
Brain Arts Organization's DAP Chosen Shows is a performing arts program pairing nationally touring acts from undervalued communities with opening acts consisting of emerging Greater Dorchester artists and DAP (Dorchester Art Project) Open Mic alumni.
Brandie Blaze
Brandie Blaze will be creating a visual hip hop album exploring life as a queer Black woman.
Chhandika senior artists Shefali Jain and Anjali Nath will work with multiple generations of dancers to bring to life Calcutta to California, a kathak dance drama highlighting parallel stories from the East and West. 
Christiane Karam
Voyage (Safar), by the Christiane Karam Quintet, is the joyous coming together of a multitude of musical and cultural influences from around the world, and tells a story of war, immigration, resilience, and ultimately triumph.
Claudio Ragazzi
The Claudio Ragazzi Quartet will de developing and creating a new repertoire featuring original "Tango-Jazz" compositions, which they will share via a recording, concerts, and open rehearsals.
Cliff Notez
Cliff Notez will be creating a new musical experience, building on the previous works Why the Wild Things Are and When the Sidewalk Ends.
Continuum Dance Project
Continuum Dance Project, in collaboration with visual artist Myrna Balk, will create a new evening-length dance/theatre work examining historical and contemporary stories of immigration.
Crystal Bi Wegner and Lily Xie
Chinatown Story Cart, in collaboration with Asian Community Development Corporation, is a public art project about the character, resilience, and dreams of the Chinatown community.
Danielle Abrams and Mary Ellen Strom
Lincoln Gave Us a Beach, written and performed by Danielle Abrams with scenic and movement design by Mary Ellen Strom, is a performance about the legacy of a segregated beach in New Orleans called Lincoln Beach.
David McMullin
David McMullin will collaborate with recovering stroke patients at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, to create a new musical composition for “strokestra,” a combined ensemble of patients and professional musicians.
Dev Blair

Dev Blair will be putting up a virtual production of A Game of LIFE: A Modern Ritual Drama, an unprecedented digital artwork existing at the intersection of theatre, video games, and live-streaming.


Erini will be recording an album of traditional songs of the Greek refugees from Asia Minor, honoring her ancestors who were refugees from Smyrna, while sharing a message of empathy towards all refugees and immigrants.

Fabiola Méndez

Fabiola Méndez will be composing and recording musical pieces inspired by the work of Puerto Rican female poets María Bibiana Benítez, Alejandrina Benítez, Lola Rodríguez de Tió, Concha Meléndez, and Yara Liceaga-Rojas.

George Abraham and Jess Rizkallah (with the Radius of Arab American Writers)

George Abraham and Jess Rizkallah, as board members for the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), will be co-organizing RAWIFest: a weekend celebrating Anglophone spoken word, poetry, and oral traditions in SWANA literature.

Giuseppe Paradiso & Meridian 71

Giuseppe Paradiso will be working on the composition and production of Parallel Dimensions, a new music album focused on the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity in our society and daily life, and building on his ongoing research into multiculturalism.

HairStory Project

The HairStory Project will be an immersive performance art experience to provide context for the ongoing debate on natural hair discrimination that will both educate and celebrate the history of natural hairstyles and African heritage.

Ifé Franklin

Based on a script adapted from Ifé Franklin's book The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae, she will be mounting an experimental performance piece with live music and choreography.

Jade Sylvan

Jade Sylvan will be creating a faithfully adapted queer Biblical musical called Beloved King.

Jeraul Mackey

Jeraul Mackey will produce Boston, Boston, Black Like Me, a live stage performance interrogating Boston's complicated and contemporary history with race, neighborhood, and transition.

Jussi Reijonen

Jussi Reijonen will be composing a musical work which aims to bring new experiential perspectives into otherness and transcultural phenomena through the lens of a Third Culture Individual.

KAIROS Dance Theater

KAIROS Dance Theater, in collaboration with Paula Josa-Jones, will create a live performance featuring dancers and musicians that asks how we shape images of self and others through the exploration of costume as covering and habitat.


Kaovanny will create a musical album called MINERVA that honors her mother's name and journey, as well as paying homage to social activist Minerva Mirabal and both women's different paths in Dominican history.

Karen Young/Older and Bolder

Working in partnership with BCYF Grove Hall Senior Center, Karen Young will produce Say Your Age, a show that uplifts, engages, and tells the stories of elders.

Kera Washington

In From Shining Seas, Freedom Sings, Kera Washington of Zili Misik will compose and perform music inspired by common abolitionist movements being waged by descendants of enslaved indigenous and African diasporic folkx, and Maori folkx (and their allies), in New Zealand and the U.S.

Lani Asuncion

Duty-Free Paradise (DFP) is a multimedia performance series that interrogates ecotourism, Pacific Islander colonial histories, and U.S. economic and military interests.

Leo Eguchi

Leo Eguchi will explore themes of immigration and "American-ness" through new works for solo cello, composed by first- and second-generation Americans.

Lily Xie

Washing (洗作) is a multimedia art project about the embodied effects of urban renewal and environmental racism in Boston's Chinatown, created through the act of washing windows.

Lion's Jaw Festival

Lion's Jaw is an annual experimental performance and dance festival that interrogates how we teach and make dance today by bringing teachers and participants from across the U.S. together for five days of rigorous training.

Kimberleigh A. Holman, Luminarium Dance

Kimberleigh A Holman, Luminarium Dance will be working on Contradictions + Casual Self Loathing, an interdisciplinary dance theatre piece that utilizes light, layers, and lore, to look through the many transparencies of life experience, specifically the female experience.

Maria Finkelmeier

Maria Finkelmeier is creating a multi-media performance installation asking, "If a robot can learn to be sexist, can a human unlearn?"

Mark Redmond/Mandorla Music

In collaboration with arranger and bandleader Kevin Harris, Mandorla Music will celebrate the legacy of Boston jazz legend Arni Cheatham by presenting and recording a live performance of never-before-heard work.


Mazumal (Felicia Chen & Olivia Harris) present performances of new music which will challenge the notion of a monolithic female experience by focusing on the intersection of feminine identity with racial, cultural, and gender identities.

Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol

Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol will premiere an extended piece for jazz orchestra featuring a new digital, split-key keyboard with 17 keys per octave, while voicing an artistic response to the stereotyping of Muslims in today’s politics.

Milkshaw Benedict

Milkshaw Benedict will create The Process, shining a light on his journey as an artist and a performer, his process of creating a song and an album, and the accompanying pain and successes.

Moe Pope

Moe Pope, with his band STLGLD, will be creating an album about greed and mental health for the most underserved and over-policed areas of the country during Trump’s America.

Naseem Alatrash

Naseem Alatrash will be recording and debuting a suite of four movements that he composed for Arabic cello and string orchestra.

Ngoc-Tran Vu

Ngoc-Tran Vu will organize Vietnamese American elders and youth in Dorchester to co-create a bilingual, multimedia storytelling project.

NorthStar Duo

NorthStar Duo continues their mission to provide a platform for womxn composers by the commission and premiere of two new works, in addition to a panel discussion on the overarching opportunity disparity that exists in the arts.


Oompa will write and co-produce an album on the topic of the antidote & the necessity of black joy.

Perpetual Anastasia Adjwoa Baiswa Hayfron

Perpetual is creating a three-part multi-disciplinary series with the intent for Black womxn to liberate ourselves from the dominating, debilitating, “Strong Black Woman” stereotype, through the culturally rich tradition of oral story-telling.

Queen Mab, Inc.

Queen Mab will develop a three-actor version of The Tempest by William Shakespeare that combines spoken word with American Sign Language.

Rachel Sumner

Rachel Sumner will be creating her debut full-length album of original songs called Heartless Things.


Rafart will be creating an audiovisual musical performance that mixes the Chapman Stick, electronic instruments, and projection mapping.

Ralph Peterson

Ralph Peterson offers the Greater Boston community performances by two renowned ensembles, his Messenger Legacy Band and the Gen-Next Big Band, featuring new works that advance the continuum of his late mentor Art Blakey.

Space for Action Team (Tiandra Ray, Edmar Colón, Peter Godart, Daniel Joseph)

Space for Action: Climate is a series of activism-oriented performances that utilize music, poetry, science, and installation art to guide participants through a collective processing of climate grief, making way for acceptance, resilience, and action.

The Flavor Continues

The Flavor Continues will be creating an all-encompassing group dance competition using the "Backyard" format which bridges the gaps between various dance styles, skill levels, and generations.

UnBound Bodies Collective

The next iteration of UnBound Bodies’ Tender|headed intervention is an invitation for QTBIPoC folx to be tender in public together in a series of performative dinners culminating in public spectacles in and around Boston.

Unitas Ensemble

Unitas Ensemble will present a series of concerts featuring traditional and popular Boleros and Tangos reimagined for chamber orchestra.

Yvette Janine Jackson

Yvette Janine Jackson will compose a new staged radio opera inspired by the writings of Samuel R. Delany, to be performed by her Radio Opera Workshop ensemble.

Zayra Pola

Zayra Pola will be recording her first Salsa album, featuring her original compositions and lead vocals and highlighting her percussive abilities.

Live Arts Boston would like to thank our 2020 reviewers:

Alice Vogler
Arts Educator
Karthik Subramanian
Company One Theatre
Allegra Fletcher
Arts Connect International
Kirsten Swartz
Cambridge Arts Council
Ann Gregg
Independent Producer
Kristina Latino
Cornerscape Artist Management
Arielle Julia Brown
Independent Artist
Krupp Family Foundation
Ashleigh Gordon
Castle of our Skins
Laurel Toyofuku
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Bakari Kitwana
Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop
Magdalena Gómez
Independent Artist/Co-founder and Artistic Director of Teatro V!da
Bonnie B. Jones
TECHNE/High Zero Festival
Mali Obomsawin
Lula Wiles
Carlos Uriona
Double Edge Theatre
Melissa Li
Independent Artist
Courtney Harge
Fractured Atlas
Michael J. Bobbitt
New Repertory Theatre
Danna Solomon
MIT/Boston Circus Guild
Nadine Martinez
West End House
Deidra Montgomery
Culture & Arts Consultant
Nell Breyer
Independent Artist
DéLana R.A. Dameron
Black Art Futures Fund/Red Olive Creative Consulting
Orlando Hernández
Independent Artist
Di Torres
The Record Co.
Paloma Valenzuela
La Gringa Loca Productions
Dutch ReBelle
Rebecca McGowan
Independent Artist
Emily Ruddock
Sage Crump
National Performance Network
Guy Mendilow
Guy Mendilow Ensemble/Dalcroze Music School of Boston
Sarah Guerra
Cultural Worker
Heath Marlow
New England Conservatory
Independent Artist
J. Cottle
Dunamis Inc.
Shane Silverstein
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Jamilla Deria
Fine Arts Center
Spirit McIntyre
Spiritwerks: Music Reiki Facilitation/Trans*Visible/Spirit & Sparrow
Juan Gudiño
Flamboyan Foundation
Susan Chinsen
ArtsEmerson/Boston Asian American Film Festival
Julia Schachnik
American Repertory Theater
Susanna Bolle
Juma Inniss
The Message
Theo de Castro
Ford Foundation
Justin Charles Hoover
Collective Action Studio
Ty Furman
Boston University Arts Initiative
Kaitlin McGaw
Alphabet Rockers
Yvonne Mendez
UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center