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Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Boston Cultural Council, today announced 33 artists and arts organizations have been selected to receive grants totaling $32,319.23 through the first round of the Boston Cultural Council’s 2018 Opportunity Fund.
“There are so many talented artists and innovative organizations in the City of Boston that have creative and unique ideas for improving the City through art,” said Mayor Walsh. “I look forward to seeing these ideas come to life, and the positive impact they have on the community.”
The Opportunity Fund was launched in August 2016 with the goal of supporting individual artists in activities that help them share their work with the public, teach others, continue their professional development and hone their skills. Through the Opportunity Fund, artists and educators are provided grants of up to $1,000 for meaningful, one-time opportunities.
The Opportunity Fund reopened in October 2017 with a modified structure including grants that are separated into five different categories, a rolling deadline for applications and new guidelines to help focus investment on artists of limited means and in communities with less access to cultural events or art-making. Including the latest round of funding, the Opportunity Fund has helped support 158 artists in total.
Below is a sampling of the grantees selected for the first round of the 2018 Opportunity Fund:
Community Arts Experience Grantees
  • Wendy Jehlen, Artistic Director of ANIKAYA, along with three deaf ANIKAYA collaborating artists – John Ying (Boston), Leonardo Castilho (Brazil) and Dakei (Japan), are working with members of the Greater Boston Deaf community to develop a new movement-based performance work, “Listen,” to be performed in public spaces throughout Boston.
  • Jared Katsiane is coordinating and teaching a free youth after-school filmmaking and fitness program in partnership with Peter Welch’s Gym, the Joseph Nee South Boston Collaborative Center, and the Joseph M. Tierney Learning Center, where teens learn documentary filmmaking skills.
  • Jasmin Davis-Shearer is creating a collaborative multimedia mural at Community Academy in Jamaica Plain that will highlight what it’s like to be an urban youth and will show images of healthy food, educational achievement and how to overcome adversity.
  • Nicole DeMaio and the Black Sheep Contemporary Ensemble will host an event at the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library where they will teach children about graphic music scores and help them create their own unique graphic scores.
  • April Inniss will partner with Roxbury Community College to bring a fun, high quality, and unique “heARTs” (health + arts) experience for children in grades 3-5 that will use art to redefine and broaden the scope of what it means to be healthy and well for children.
  • Yara Liciaga-Rojas will provide one creative writing workshop and one performance poetry workshop to students at The City School in Dorchester and help them use experience and imagination to cultivate advocacy for social justice.
Field Trip Grantees
  • Alexander Kalamaroff will organize a field trip at Charlestown High School where 45 students in grades 9-12 will attend a performance of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in March 2018.
  • Emily Chen will organize a field trip at Edwards Middle School in Charlestown where 40 students in grades 6-8 will take part in the Tsongas Center for the American Young Voices Program.
Local Arts Events Grantees
  • Red Sage Stories will use the grant to fund two “Lifted!” evening events, which are free performance arts events presented by Haley House in Roxbury that consist of a shared storytelling performance and an open mic.
  • Black Cotton Club will hold a free Jam Session in Roxbury that aims to encourage collaboration between artists, local businesses and the community by featuring a live band chosen by the local community, as well as local artists.
  • Black Book Sessions will host a free event in Jamaica Plain where visual artists, musicians, performers, writers, and art enthusiasts from different communities are invited to come together in an encouraging environment to learn from each other and work together to further expand and support the Boston art scene as a whole.
Artist Career Development Grantees
  • Lani Asuncion, an artist from Brighton who works in video, sculpture, performance, and digital storytelling, will use the grant to attend an Artist Residency at Vermont Studio Center.
  • Iris Du Pont of Dorchester will use the grant to purchase materials for a model of an art piece she plans to create in The Food Forest project near her home, which involves cleaning up the Forest and using the materials to create a “fence” design.
  • Elizabeth James, a performing artist from Roxbury, will use the grant for actor and crew stipends,as well as equipment rental, during the creation of a short film version of her staged play, Uncommon Ties.
  • Annette McCarthy, a retired art teacher and visual artist from Roxbury, will use the grant to complete a pilot video called “The Choice of Art: A Journey to Discover S.T.E.A.M”, which will be made available to schools, museums and arts centers.

“The members of BSCE are extremely grateful to the City of Boston for choosing to support our event,” said Nicole DeMaio of Black Sheep Contemporary Ensemble. “In a time when funding for the arts is at risk nationwide, it's great knowing that we live in a place that values music and music education. We are a relatively new ensemble with a small budget, so the money will help us to compensate our musicians for their time, as well as alleviate us of the financial burden of purchasing supplies for the event.”
“The Boston Creates cultural plan calls for advancing equity by facilitating creative, cultural, and artistic opportunities in historically underserved communities,” said Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture.” “We are so proud to be able to bring more arts programming to underserved communities such as Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan, and to support the individual artists living in these neighborhoods at the same time.”
The review deadline for the next round of the Opportunity Fund is February 28, 2018. Artists and organizations can apply here.
About the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC)
The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture's mission is to support artists, the cultural sector, and to promote access to the arts for all. The office houses the Boston Cultural Council, the Boston Art Commission, and the Poet Laureate program. Responsibilities include implementing the City's cultural plan, Boston Creates; commissioning public art, managing the Boston Artist-in-Residence program; curating exhibitions in City Hall; and operating the historic Strand Theater in Dorchester. For more information go to:

About the Boston Cultural Council
The Boston Cultural Council (BCC), under the umbrella of the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, annually distributes funds allocated by the City of Boston and the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, to support innovative arts, humanities and interpretive sciences programming that enhances the quality of life in our city. For more information, please visit


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