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Live Arts Boston 2021: Priorities and FAQs

Program Priorities

Live Arts Boston prioritizes:

  • Projects led by and uplifting the artistry and voices of Black people, indigenous people, people of color, immigrants, and new Americans
  • Projects with clear artistic intention, creativity, and strength of concept
  • Projects with high potential for artistic and career growth and visibility of Greater Boston area artists
  • Projects centered on art forms that have had less representation, visibility, and support in Greater Boston
  • Timely and compelling projects

Program Eligibility

LAB welcomes applications from artists who have not previously applied for or received a grant to support their work. Over 25% of LAB grantees have been first-time grant applicants! Many artists report that describing their work in a grant application is useful, even if it is challenging and even if they don’t get the grant the first time they apply.

If you have previously applied with a particular project and not received a LAB grant, you may apply with that same project again provided it is still considered “new work” (see program guidelines).

LAB grants do not support stand-alone media, visual or film projects. Each of these areas may be components of a project, but the majority of the work must align with the following performing arts disciplines: dance, theater, music, opera, musical theater, spoken word, performance art, circus arts, traditional and folk performing arts, and any multi-disciplinary combination of these.

LAB grants support projects that result in “live performances."  Given the COVID-19 pandemic, in the 2021 cycle of LAB, pre-recorded or live-streamed performances also fall into this category. However, projects that are focused solely on video or audio production without a public performance component are not eligible for funding.

A requirement of the LAB program is that core artistic members of the project must be professional artists over the age of 18. We define a professional artist as someone who has devoted significant time and training to build a career creating, interpreting, presenting, and/or producing works of art. An individual or group comprised of professional artists may perform for younger audiences, and youth can be included in grant-funded performances (for example, in the case of a children’s choir taking part in a larger production). However, projects primarily focused on teaching arts and/or youth work are not eligible for LAB funding.

LAB funds the creation of new, original works of art. Projects or performances that are predominately tributes or covers of another artist’s work are ineligible for funding. Re-mountings of works that have already premiered in the Greater Boston area are also ineligible to receive a grant.

All LAB-funded projects must be available to Greater Boston area audiences via a performance during the grant period (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022). We cannot support projects that have finished before the grant period begins.

A requirement of the LAB program is that grant recipients live in one of the towns and cities listed within the Boston Foundation's geographic catchment area. However, we understand that as a result of the pandemic, many people have temporarily relocated outside of the Greater Boston area. In this case, you will be required to confirm that you were a resident in the Boston Foundation's catchment area before March 2020 and plan to return to the area when circumstances permit.

Applicants are welcome to apply for grant support for projects involving artists who live outside our catchment area. The only requirement is that the primary applicant confirm that they live within or used to live within and plan to return to this area.

Application Process

For Individual Artists: This is yourself!

For Groups of Artists: The primary applicant is the person who would receive funding if a grant were awarded, and the person who will be the primary point of contact throughout the application process. Please choose carefully who this person will be. In lieu of an individual receiving funds, your group may also choose to work with a fiscal sponsor. (See more on fiscal sponsorship below.)

For Organizations: You will provide your organization's name. Funding, if received, will be directed toward that entity.

Yes! You may get help submitting your application; the form has a field to indicate the name, email address and phone number of the person completing the application on your behalf.

There is no advantage or disadvantage to applying as an individual, group, or organization. Grantees are selected from all three categories, so pick the category that best reflects the way you are working.

The Boston Foundation welcomes LAB applications from unincorporated groups of artists, like a band or ensemble, or an artistic collaboration that isn’t formally organized as a nonprofit.

For bands and other groups or artistic collaborations, the core artistic members are the co-owners of your project and provide creative input. Core members are not people hired to provide a service to the project, such as is often the case with lighting designers, stage managers, orchestra members, etc.

The Boston Foundation does not require that LAB grantees have fiscal sponsorship to receive their awards. However, all grant recipients who are not 501(c)(3) nonprofits, whether as standalone nonprofits or via their fiscal sponsors, may be taxed on the amount awarded. For more information about fiscal sponsorship, please contact the following local and national organizations:

Only non-profit performing arts organizations with annual budgets of under $250,000 may apply. Groups of artists who do not fit that definition are welcome to apply (see above), but should not apply as organizations. If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, please contact program staff at YOTKcMKIFG4ikLiCr6MpEdq4gaARw7UAi0VvZWxYnFYTO7SQV85X/jY08DdheAkCWmfascqUuloIbWqRR3aBSQBJmLiEFwiKER74fwk0gj7H7p2ixduyB55MytvzRF1X before applying.

Yes! Many artists operate as LLCs. However, the primary focus of your company must be on the making and/or presenting/producing of performing arts work in order to receive a grant.

If you, as the primary applicant, will be enrolled as a full-time student (graduate or undergraduate) in the 2021-2022 academic year,  you are ineligible to apply for a grant.

The Boston Foundation strives to distribute grant funds equitably, and the information requested in the application will help us ensure that we are reaching a diverse applicant pool and awarding funds to a grantee pool that represents that diversity.

Based on what LAB applicants reported in 2020, the average time to complete a round one application is 6 hours.

For a full timeline of the LAB 2021 application cycle, please see our main page. Applicants will be notified whether they are advancing to round two of the application process in late March 2021. The application deadline for round two submissions is in late April 2021. Please note, only applicants who move on to round two will receive a specific round two timeline and access to that application. Round two applicants will receive notification as to whether they have received a grant in June 2021.

Our primary means of being in touch with you will be via email. Please make sure the email address you put on the application is the one at which you would like to be reached throughout the process, and keep an eye out for emails from YOTKcMKIFG4ikLiCr6MpEdq4gaARw7UAi0VvZWxYnFYTO7SQV85X/jY08DdheAkCWmfascqUuloIbWqRR3aBSQBJmLiEFwiKER74fwk0gj7H7p2ixduyB55MytvzRF1X.

Application Content

All expenses required to make your project are eligible, EXCEPT costs associated with fundraising. Durable equipment critical to making your art (such as computers or hardware) may not make the majority of your LAB budget, and is subject to approval.

You do not need to write in academic or scholarly language. Just be as clear as you can be, and provide examples in your statement that help us to understand you and your work. As reviewers may not have a deep knowledge of your discipline, write with a general audience in mind. Check the website for sample strong answers to narrative questions from applications that have been funded!

Work samples are intended to bring your work to life for grant reviewers. The work sample plays a critical role in helping reviewers understand your work and your proposed project. A strong sample will be recent (preferably no more than five years old) and relevant to the proposed project (or to your approach/overall aesthetic). A strong sample will also be clear (for example, reviewers should be able to hear dialogue easily) and well-timed (the cue time should bring us into the action quickly, with no lengthy build-up). Reviewers will be looking at dozens of projects, so make sure every minute of your work sample counts.

  • If you don't have a work sample that documents your proposed project, that’s okay! Please include a sample or samples from previous work that will help panelists become familiar with your artistry. If you are applying on behalf of a group of artists, a work sample that depicts your collaborative work is best. If this is not available, consider submitting multiple samples, perhaps one for each of the artists involved.
  • A good work sample is one where the reviewers can see and hear the work clearly. However, your work samples do not need to be professionally produced. With a little effort, you can create a sample of good quality from your phone.
  • Video samples are strongly preferred as they best help reviewers understand your work. If they are not available, you may submit audio samples. Please do not submit photographs, press clippings, CVs, or letters of recommendation - reviewers will not read them.
  • We are looking for samples of live performance or rehearsal. Please do not submit music videos, reels, or marketing or promotional materials.
  • In most cases, one or two longer excerpts of a performance are better than many short snippets or a compilation. In total, you may include no more than three samples, and each one must be at least two minutes in length. The total time limit for all samples combined is six minutes.
  • If you are sharing a longer video but want the reviewers to watch only a specific part, be sure to choose and clearly indicate the cue times (minutes and seconds) at which reviewers should start and stop watching. Pick times that let the viewer jump right into the action as long lead-ins dilute the impact.


COVID-19 Questions

If you have relocated during the pandemic, we ask that you confirm that you were a resident in our catchment area before March 2020, have plans to return to the Greater Boston area when conditions permit, and plan to share your work with Greater Boston audiences. All finalists will be required to demonstrate proof of prior residency before receiving funding.

Yes. Given the restrictions that the current COVID-19 pandemic has placed upon public gatherings, digital or live-streamed performances or events fulfill the grant requirements of “live” performance.

We understand that project plans can change over the course of the grant year for reasons related and unrelated to the current pandemic. The LAB team is here to help grantees think through any changes or roadblocks they may encounter. Of course, you are also welcome to reach out to us any time at YOTKcMKIFG4ikLiCr6MpEdq4gaARw7UAi0VvZWxYnFYTO7SQV85X/jY08DdheAkCWmfascqUuloIbWqRR3aBSQBJmLiEFwiKER74fwk0gj7H7p2ixduyB55MytvzRF1X.

We are happy to address any questions about program guidelines, eligibility, and the application form that are not addressed above or in one of our informational videos. However, we are unable to provide specific guidance about the content of individual Round One applications. You can reach the LAB team by email at YOTKcMKIFG4ikLiCr6MpEdq4gaARw7UAi0VvZWxYnFYTO7SQV85X/jY08DdheAkCWmfascqUuloIbWqRR3aBSQBJmLiEFwiKER74fwk0gj7H7p2ixduyB55MytvzRF1X. Please allow up to 2 business days for a response.