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$450,000 in COVID relief grants go to local BIPOC arts orgs

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$450,000 in COVID relief grants go to local BIPOC arts orgs
OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center PHOTO: CITY OF BOSTON

In partnership with the Boston Foundation and the Barr Foundation, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture will provide $25,000 unrestricted grants to 17 Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) arts and culture organizations around Boston. The grants are meant to provide some relief for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Relief funding for BIPOC organizations is extremely important,” says Shaumba Dibinga, founding artistic director of OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center “especially given the current times we are living in and given the history of where BIPOC organizations have been on the funding ladder.”

In addition to OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center, grants will go to BAMS Fest, Black Market, Castle of Our Skins, Company One Theatre, Danza Orgánica, Dunamis, Front Porch Arts Collective, The Guild, Hyde Square Task Force, Jean Appolon Expressions, North American Indian Center of Boston, Pao Arts Center, The Theater Offensive, Transformative Culture Project, Urbano Project and Veronica Robles Cultural Center.

In many instances, these organizations have pivoted over the past year not just to new ways of creating and distributing artwork, but to meeting other important community needs. Company One has been hosting wellness workshops; the North American Indian Center has led guided mediations centered on Indigenous love; Veronica Robles Cultural Center has supported a Latino Artists Relief Fund to help local artists bridge financial gaps.

Eva Rosenberg, interim director of arts & culture at the Boston Foundation, says, “We are proud to join with the City of Boston and the Barr Foundation in supporting these critical cultural organizations that serve as hubs and connectors within their communities.”

Funding from the city of Boston comes from the federal CARES Act and was targeted specially at small and mid-sized organizations that have been drastically impacted by the pandemic. The grants are also a beginning effort to address the historical disparity in support for BIPOC communities and arts. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of arts and culture in the city, and these grants illustrate an acknowledgement of that role and a commitment to supporting the culture sector on a greater, and ideally more equitable, level.

In addition to receiving funding, grantees will participate in a collective learning and discovery process to share the needs of BIPOC arts organizations in Boston. The results of these conversations will be used to distribute funds, support and technical assistance in the future.

Dibinga says, “The hope is that this funding will bring awareness to other funders and create a larger pool for BIPOC organizations to receive relief funding and keep our businesses thriving.”

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