About a year ago, The Boston Foundation (TBF) released a study about funding for the arts in Boston. The data suggested local organizations are starved for the kind of investment that would allow them to take a risk on producing new works. New works are the fuel that drives innovation in culture and since the TBF study was published, it’s been great to see momentum building to support new works. For example, Next Steps for Boston Dance is a new grant program from TBF and the Aliad Fund designed to support Greater Boston choreographers creating original works. TBF and The Barr Foundation have just teamed up to launch Live Arts Boston (LAB), offering flexible, project-specific grants to Greater Boston’s performing artists and small non-profit performing arts organizations to create, produce or present new artistic work. This was a direct result of a need identified by Boston Creates.
The Boston Creates process showed that space for rehearsal and production of new works is in short supply. The Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development has launched The Collaborative Workspace Program, providing funds to expand or develop collaborative creative work spaces. The intent is to support new business formation, job creation and entrepreneurial activity, as well as community-based innovation. The workspace grant program has supported the makerspace Artisan’s Asylum, which will expand and upgrade their facility. And the Fairmount Innovation Lab in Upham’s Corner in Dorchester has received financial support for their expansion into a new larger space.They’ll cut the ribbon and open the doors later this month.
The Record Company, located in the Newmarket area of Boston, received $25,000 in “seed funds” to support the creation of a small format, neighborhood-based, multi-purpose music workspace. The Record Company recently released a compilation album called “The Boston Sessions Vol. 1: Beast,” featuring Boston-based bands and musicians All the songs are new works specifically commissioned for this album. In total, 57 artists, producers, and engineers were paid for their work.
If you look closely, you’ll find new works being incubated on a variety of local stages and spaces. For some, it’s central to their mission. One example is the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, which incubates new theatrical works beyond its main season. Another example is the 6th Annual Boston One Minute Play Festival, which takes place this weekend. Some of the most accomplished playwrights in the US have been part of this national festival. They also produce the Second Sunday Reading Series, where writers developing new plays can hear how their words sound with professional actors at the helm and hear the audience’s immediate reaction. Post-show, the audience can give more detailed feedback and help to hone the work. Due to the holidays,the event will be held on January 15th, the third Sunday of the month.
Last year, the Huntington Theatre hosted its annual series of four staged readings of new works in development. Their recent production of Tiger Style was developed from this very fruitful pipeline. Additionally, the readings in both series are free.
And lastly, for some creative people, a new year and “new works” might mean they’re interested in finding a new job. If you are looking to head in a new direction with your creative career in 2017 check out the StageSource job fair on February 27th.