Arts + Culture

Enhancing civic and cultural vitality in Greater Boston

The Arts and Culture impact area works in concert with the City of Boston’s cultural plan, Boston Creates, to drive investment, innovation, collaboration and inclusiveness across all levels of Greater Boston’s arts ecosystem.


Performing Arts   

We partner with mid- to large-size organizations, aiming to create programming that serves, uplifts and better positions Greater Boston’s artists and small arts organizations.

How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts 

Our 2016 Understanding Boston report researching Boston’s arts and culture landscape, How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts, showed that small organizations, which make up 90 percent of the local arts ecosystem, receive less than 10 percent of all funding, and that individual artists likewise receive little support.

In response to needs identified in the local arts ecosystem and articulated by the City of Boston’s first cultural plan, Boston Creates, and in our own research, we support a wide range of performing arts entities and artists to create new work, forge new collaborations and create culturally diverse programming, while offering career advancement and organizational development opportunities. For small arts organizations and individual artists we provide project specific funding through Live Arts Boston, Next Steps for Boston Dance and the Free for All Fund.


We invest in the infrastructure and systems needed to realize a vibrant, sustainable, rigorous and inclusive arts ecosystem. 

For example, Boston’s arts service organizations  (ASOs) play an important role in supporting the work of artists and nonprofit agencies, and in developing the sector’s cohesion and ability to meet its collaborative needs. We have formed a cohort of local ASOs to perform a needs assessment of the arts ecology, map existing program offerings with the needs, identify the gaps and identify appropriate partners to create new programs and approaches.

In 2019, we also launched an effort to connect and strengthen leaders in the place management field, from organizations such as Main Streets, parks conservancies, Business Improvement Districts, CDCs, Cultural Districts and others, through the Place Leadership Network, a nine-month interdisciplinary series of focused, facilitated curricular modules themed around critical elements of place management, such as planning and zoning, tactical urbanism, fundraising, and working with creative producers.

Public Art

Patterned Behavior
Patterned Behavior, 2017 by Silvia Lopez Chavez. Curated and produced by Now + There; commissioned and funded by the Esplanade Association. Photo: Above Summit.

In support of another key need articulated in the City’s cultural plan, we invest in the creation of a more “fertile ground” for increased high-quality, contemporary public art within the urban environment in Greater Boston. Currently, the Boston Foundation supports several key organizations that drive the local public art ecology as well as new, exciting projects that animate pivotal public spaces. 

Now + There (N + T) a Boston Foundation grantee, is a public art curator and artist incubator that delivers temporary and site specific public art projects throughout Greater Boston.  With a mission to “acculturate Boston to the cultural, social and economic benefits of art,” N + T engages new audiences with risk-taking work that advances new definitions of this discipline, and “helps define Boston’s essential public art identity.” The Boston Foundation seeded N + T’s organizational planning, and now provides general operating support as it builds out its operational infrastructure and grows its programming.

Funding for projects and organizations is by invitation only. Please contact /7mR5DuN46mqSxGXin7uOerqyqZWU0RO65QHFJhrMvRU6jw2vuIMIFqHTLSUL6NoucdLUkUBqe7iCeDvSSqgDNngrdQDLbvlZAOLlSisv2up8t5nryq9Jjw/H/P4vba7PbpG+8iuQJnMg8FuLovdqX0mrx/JKWS3xDNw8iuWuC+YGCoi8vxoofgaaE+924Vb with any inquiries.

Seeding Boston’s Public Art Scene: A Partnership between Kate Chertavian Fine Art (KCFA) and the Boston Foundation

Boston is a city ripe for inspired, dynamic public art. With Boston Creates, the City of Boston’s 2016 cultural plan, indicating the appetite of residents for more high quality art in the public realm, the Boston Foundation has engaged KCFA to explore the landscape of opportunities for current and future funding in this sphere. KCFA, in conversations with cross-city and cross-disciplinary organizations, maintains a portfolio of diverse, innovative public realm art projects and programming to share with local philanthropists and funders. KCFA also plays an active role as a resource and connector in the space to help develop and elevate new opportunities, projects and programs.

TBF and KCFA are presently matching local philanthropists, donors, and funders with public art projects currently underway, as well as developing an understanding of how to create new platforms that will engage city-wide audiences and spaces. By aggregating this data, the objectives are to infuse the landscape with necessary project capital, develop a database of TBF-vetted projects, and play an active role as resource and connector for funders and citywide arts organizations. Other key objectives of this initiative are to engage Boston visitors and neighborhoods with current and future vibrant arts programming, to change the dialogue around what public art is and can be, and to seed the landscape with rich, diverse, culturally reflective works of art.

For inquiries, please contact us at /7mR5DuN46mqSxGXin7uOerqyqZWU0RO65QHFJhrMvRU6jw2vuIMIFqHTLSUL6NoucdLUkUBqe7iCeDvSSqgDNngrdQDLbvlZAOLlSisv2up8t5nryq9Jjw/H/P4vba7PbpG+8iuQJnMg8FuLovdqX0mrx/JKWS3xDNw8iuWuC+YGCoi8vxoofgaaE+924Vb. 


Responding to our 2016 report’s finding that Boston has the lowest government funding for the arts per capita among the 10 cities profiled in that research, we invest in advocacy focused on increasing municipal funding for the arts in Boston.

Our 2017 Forum Arts Are a Public Good: What Boston Can Learn From Other Cities to Secure and Sustain Dedicated Public Funding for Its Arts Sector brought in national arts leaders to address the ways in which their recent advocacy efforts levied and secured localized streams of funding for the arts in their respective cities.

Cultural Planning

In 2017, the Boston Foundation and Futurecity brought together stakeholders from across the greater Boston arts and culture community to launch an aambitious cultural planning effort for the concentration of arts assets around Huntington Avenue - which they dubbed the Avenues to the Arts. The effort has generated new energy and cooperation among arts organizations, civic agencies and developers, with an eye toward creating strong partnerships, expanding public art and creating a vision for a connective public realm. The 2018 report Avenues to the Arts: A New Creative District for Boston, creates a map for a district and highlights the assets in the region, and can serve a launch point forfuture development.

Cultural Equity

The Boston Foundation has a historical commitment to addressing inequity issues in Boston, and a practice of understanding and documenting the landscape through research.

During the City of Boston’s first cultural planning process, stakeholders and community members called for cultural equity as one of five primary goals for the plan, namely: “A Boston that celebrates diversity in all forms by inspiring and empowering all Bostonians to express their individual creativity and cultural identities.” Advancing cultural equity also emerged as a key theme in our own Understanding Boston report How Boston and Other American Cities Support and Sustain the Arts. Our work going forward aims to contribute to the city’s understanding of this issue, by supporting critical research in order to forge a local cultural identity grounded in equity.


The Arts & Culture impact area does not currently support the following areas:

  • Capital grants or requests
  • Elder arts
  • Fashion arts
  • Film projects, film making or film festivals
  • Literature/literary arts

If you are doing work in any of the above areas, you may be eligible for funding through the Boston Foundation’s Open Door Grants program.