Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture announced applications have reopened for the City of Boston’s Opportunity Fund, a grant program that supports meaningful one-time opportunities for artists living in the city of Boston to further develop their careers and help provide access and community engagement opportunities throughout the city.
“We have the opportunity to use every bit of Boston’s diversity and creativity to grow our economy, support small businesses and help our communities recover. Arts and culture connect, heal, and inspire–and these investments in the arts and our creative community will be a cornerstone of our recovery,” said Mayor Michelle Wu.
The Opportunity Fund has two grant categories:
• Artist Career Development Grants provide support for professional development opportunities and expenses related to projects that help the applicant further their artistic career in a meaningful way.
• Community Arts Experiences Grants provide support for individual artists and teaching artists across various artistic disciplines who want to bring arts experiences into Boston neighborhoods that have been identified as having a lower concentration of arts activities that are free, accessible, and open to the public.
Several changes have been made to the Opportunity Fund program this year, the biggest being that funding amounts have increased from $1,000 grants to $5,000 grants for the Artist Career Development category, and $10,000 grants for the Community Arts Experiences category.
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture will also be prioritizing artists who:
• live and/or work in communities that have had the highest rates of COVID-19 (e.g. Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, and Mattapan),
• are from demographics that saw the most economic impact due to COVID-19 (e.g. women, people of color, immigrants, artists who have lower levels of education, artists who identify as LGBTQIAP+),
• and have artistic professions that were most economically impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. performing and teaching artists).
“Shifting our focus to artists who have experienced the highest negative impacts of COVID-19 is crucial to Boston’s citywide recovery efforts,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. “We’re excited to support artists and communities in a more meaningful way.”
This is the fifth year of the program, and over $170,000 in grants were awarded to artists through the Opportunity Fund last fiscal year.
“I used this grant for my Vietnamese Buddhist youth girls to perform traditional Vietnamese dances,” said 2021 Opportunity Fund grantee Nhi Phan. “We perform at temples and the community, and we used this grant mainly for costumes, equipment, props, and transportation. This grant really lightened our financial load and helped spread culture through the art of dancing.”
“The Opportunity Fund grant helped me buy music equipment during the pandemic that would otherwise be inaccessible to me,” said 2021 Opportunity Fund grantee Hannah Enoy. “It’s important that our city makes it a priority to financially support independent artists and women of color so that our creative communities can flourish and have access to the resources they deserve.”
In FY22 nearly $245,000 will be available for grant distribution. The deadline to apply for the current round of funding is January 28, 2022 at 5 p.m. The grant will reopen for applications on March 7, 2022. The application and grant guidelines can be found at boston.gov/opportunity-fund.