LAB Guidelines

Funding Categories

The Boston Foundation will accept proposals in two categories: 1) Create and 2) Produce/Present. Each category has a slightly different application and will be reviewed by a panel using distinct criteria. Each category places priority on different types of projects, as detailed below.

Category 1: Create 

For applicants seeking support to create work, the following will be prioritized:

  • The creation of new work, i.e. original or interpretive work/projects that have not been previously presented to a general audience; and/or
  • The creation of work that is rooted in and reflects or upholds a community’s shared cultural values, history, and experiences; and/or
  • The creation of a specific, distinct project that clearly supports the development of an applicant’s work, and supports career advancement; and/or
  • The creation of work that pushes the boundaries of an applicant’s art-making or creative process, allows the applicant to explore new artistic collaborations, or supports artistic growth, risk-taking, and experimentation; and/or
  • Projects led by people of color.

Category 2: Produce/Present

For applicants seeking support to produce or present work, the following will be prioritized: 

  • Presenting or producing the work of Greater Boston artists, bands, collaboratives, groups, and small arts organizations; or
  • Projects supporting the artistic growth of Greater Boston artists (e.g., commissioning new work from Greater Boston artists, providing opportunities to develop, expand or hone artistry through meaningful feedback); or
  • Projects seeking to increase the visibility of Greater Boston artists by creating audience-building opportunities or the chance to connect with artists, venues, places, presenters and/or producers within and outside of Greater Boston; or
  • Projects that provide opportunities to share work with Greater Boston communities that have historically had less access to arts and cultural offerings.
  • Projects led by people of color. 

    Note:  Within either Category, projects may encompass multiple funding priorities.

Program Guidelines

  • All proposals must be for a single, distinct artistic project or a clearly connected series of activities/events. The strongest applications will have a defined artistic goal for the project, a clear timeline, and a predetermined estimated cost.
  • Funds may be used to support any artistic, programmatic, administrative, or marketing activities directly related to 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, gig, concert, workshop, works-in-progress showing, reading, open mic) between January 1 and December 31, 2018. The event can be free or ticketed, open to the general public or to a limited, specified audience. 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.
  • All artists contributing to the project must be paid.
  • Presentation of Local Artists Requirement: For those applying as presenters or producers of a performance, festival, or other shared bill event, note that at least half of the artists involved 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 travel/touring must have a clear purpose that helps to advance the project and work of the artist(s) or organization, and the project must also be shown/presented/performed in some capacity in Greater Boston before December 31, 2018.
  • Final Report:  Awardees will be required to complete a simple final report at the end of the grant period. 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, as will several narrative questions and a budget detailing the ways in which the funds were spent. More information about final reporting will be provided to awardees after funds are disbursed.  

Eligibility Requirements

All 2017 LAB grant applicants and recipients are eligible to apply again in this second 2018 year of the program.


To be eligible to apply for LAB, you:

  • 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 your commitment to your art form as a primary vocation, rather than the amount of income 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 (excluding work created or presented you were 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.  LAB-funded projects may not be part of the requirements for an arts-related graduate degree program.

A Note about Fiscal Sponsorship

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) non-profits will be taxed on the amount awarded.  For more information about fiscal sponsorship, please contact the following organizations:

  • The Boston Dance Alliance (fiscal sponsorship is available to BDA members only)
  • Third Sector New England
  • The Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston
  • Fractured Atlas

Please Note: The Boston Foundation and its staff do not provide legal, tax or financial advice.  


The Boston Foundation will accept LAB applications from groups of artists and collaborators.  We define a “collaborator” as an artist who 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 members 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, organizational 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 defined here;
  • 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 the last calendar year.