The Mayor’s Office invites Boston area artists to make art out of overlooked urban forms. Submit your design idea for City utility boxes!


The PaintBox program, organized by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, is geared towards the recognition and celebration of local artists. Artists paint City of Boston utility boxes with original designs. Once professionally painted, these utility boxes in neighborhood business districts will contribute to the vitality and attractiveness of the urban streetscape and deter graffiti.


● Up to three (3) designs by each Boston artist will be considered at a time. The PaintBox design template can be downloaded here
● Selections will be made by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture.
● Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
● Artists will be notified if and when their designs are selected.


Artists must be at least 18 years of age.


● You must submit a specific location. We encourage artists to select boxes in neighborhoods underserved with public art and boxes that are in need of aesthetic improvement. PaintBox projects proposed for some historic districts may not be approved.
● Artists must avoid dark palettes in order to prevent boxes from overheating in the sun.
● Artists must supply their own materials, tools, and water while painting.
● The utility boxes must be scraped, cleaned and primed (with automobile spray primer) before painting. Please tape over functional areas– hinges, vents, locks, meters, keyholes, and any cautionary text – as the operational use of the boxes cannot be obstructed by paint.
● Artists are responsible for protecting their work from the elements and possible vandalism by using durable materials and a protective varnish and coating of wax. As you develop your designs, please keep in mind that large, empty monochrome areas do not help to discourage vandalism.
● The area around the box must be maintained at all times, including passage on the sidewalk for pedestrians and unobstructed traffic lanes, as well as protecting the area from drips, etc. A dropcloth must be used while priming and painting.
● Please subtly incorporate the text 'Sponsored by the City of Boston' into your design.


Participating Boston artists may receive a $300 stipend from the City of Boston upon completion of their box. Artists are responsible for the cost of all materials required to complete and protect their artwork. In order to receive payment, artists must submit the following:

● A photo of the electric utility meter number (if visible) – this is part of a collaboration with the Environment Department to promote energy efficiency through improved tracking for our street lights and traffic lights.
● Photos of the completed PaintBox
●A City of Boston vendor ID number

Visit to see examples of PaintBoxes in the city. Please click here to view and download the PaintBox design template.

Please contact with any questions.

Organizational Grant Guidelines

Please read the "Application Forms and Submission" section closely as our process has changed.

Welcome to the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC) works to enhance the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the city through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced via equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Support to the cultural sector via grants and programs are key ways MOAC carries out this mission.

Boston Cultural Council

The Boston Cultural Council (BCC), under the umbrella of the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, helps to ensure that grant making responds to the needs of the cultural community and that best practices for grant solicitation, review and disbursement are followed. The BCC annually distributes funds allocated by the City of Boston and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), a state agency, to support innovative arts, humanities, and interpretive science programming that enhances the quality of life in our city.

The council members are Boston residents appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh for to up to two consecutive three year terms. Council members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated commitment to Boston’s cultural community and their knowledge of various arts disciplines. The BCC reviews applications to evaluate the quality of proposed programming and potential benefit to diverse audiences in Boston. Visit to see a full list of council members and to read their biographies.

Why We Fund What We Fund

The BCC seeks to enhance the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the city through the arts by investing in cultural organizations and cultural programs. We provide support via grants to: 

  1. Create fertile ground for a vibrant and sustainable arts and culture ecosystem.
  2. Keep artists in Boston and attract new ones here, recognizing and supporting artists’ essential contribution to creating and maintaining a thriving, healthy, and innovative city.
  3. Cultivate a city where all cultural traditions and expressions are respected, promoted, and equitably resourced, and where opportunities to engage with arts and culture are accessible to all.
  4. Integrate arts and culture into all aspects of civic life, inspiring all Bostonians to value, practice, and reap the benefits of creativity in their individual lives and in their communities.
  5. Mobilize likely and unlikely partners, collaborating across institutions and sectors, to generate excitement about, and demand and resources for, Boston’s arts and culture sector.

Grant Categories

General Operating Support: Organizations with a budget of less than $1 million that are located in the City of Boston may apply for general operating support.

Programmatic Support: Organizations with a budget of over $1 million may apply for project specific support. Organizations with a budget of under $1 million who are located outside of the City of Boston, but who offer programs in the City of Boston may apply for program specific support for their Boston based programs.


Field Trip applications should no longer use this grant opportunity. Please apply to the Opportunity Fund.

  • Grants are available for up to $5,000.
  • Organizations may request up to 10% of their budget (not to exceed $5,000) or $1,000, whichever is greater.
  • Organizations not based in the City of Boston, but whose primary programming takes place in Boston, are eligible.
  • Project specific grants are eligible for funding. Projects must exhibit a tangible public benefit to the City of Boston.
  • Organizations can receive funding in consecutive years.
  • Disciplines are no longer rotated annually.
  • Organizations whose primary mission is not arts and culture, but who are applying for a project that is entirely arts and culture related are eligible for funding.
  • Non-profits with L3C designations are eligible to apply.

Application Forms and Submission

Our application has changed this year. Both the Boston Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) are moving to online applications. PLEASE NOTE WELL: Organizations with a budget of under $1 million will complete their entire application below. Organizations with a budget of $1 million or above will complete a brief application below as well as the MCC application, which is available at Both sections of the application must be completed in order to be eligible for funding. Organizations with a budget of under $1 million do not need to complete the MCC application. All proposals must be submitted online.  Applications must be received on or before 10/17/2016 at 5:00 pm. No late applications will be accepted.

Review Process

Once received, grant applications are initially reviewed for eligibility and completeness. If eligible and complete, they are then read and evaluated by MOAC staff as well as members of the BCC, and scored against an evaluation rubric. Scores are then tallied, averaged and applications are then discussed in meetings during the fall and winter. Awardees will be notified of BCC funding decisions in January.


An applicant may request reconsideration of a decision on its application if the applicant can demonstrate that the BCC failed to follow published application and review procedures. Such requests must be submitted in writing to the Boston Cultural Council within fifteen (15) days of notification. No reconsideration may be requested regarding the amount or a decision made about artistic quality or programming priorities.

Grant Payment

All grants will be paid on a reimbursement basis; requests for reimbursement must be accompanied by invoices, cancelled checks, receipts, and/or contracts that document programming expenses as proposed. Applicants must demonstrate at least a 2:1 match. The match can include in-kind (non-monetary gifts of goods and services) or donated contributions. Awardees have one calendar year from notice of award to file for payment.

Conflict of Interest

The Boston Cultural Council observes the MCC’s Conflict of Interest Policy regarding review panels. To ensure that all review panels are free from conflicts of interests, panelists are required to disclose any current or prospective affiliations they or their immediate family members have with an actual or potential applicant. “Affiliation” applies to employment, board memberships, independent contractual relationships, advisory or policy relationships, substantial contributor relationships, or other financial relationships. In addition, panelists are required to disclose any past or current adversarial relationships with actual or potential applicants. Panelists will not be permitted to participate in discussions or votes relating to applicants with whom they have an affiliation or relationship.


Who is Eligible to Apply?

  • Non-profit cultural organizations whose mission and programming is focused in the following disciplines: Music, Film and Video, Folk and Traditional Art, Visual Art, Theatre, Dance, Humanities, Literary Arts, Performance or Time-based Art, Social and Civic Practice, and Multi-Disciplinary Arts.
  • Non-profits whose mission is not primarily arts and culture based, but who are looking to fund arts and culture programs are welcome to apply.
  • City of Boston-based groupings of artists, humanists, and/or interpretive scientists jointlyworking toward common goals, using a fiscal agent in the City of Boston, whose work is primarily focused in the disciplines named above, may apply for a program grant for a program that takes place in the City of Boston. 
  • Organizations can submit only one proposal per funding cycle.

Grant Fund Restrictions

Grant funding received may not be used for the following items:

  • To purchase food or refreshments.
  • To pay salaries or stipends for employees of the school system, library, parks department, or municipality.
  • On capital expenditures for schools, libraries, local cultural councils, other municipals agencies, or religious organizations.
  • On programming that discriminates or discourages participation on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, or age.

Evaluation Criteria

Once basic eligibility is met, proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria. Proposal narratives should address as many of these items as is relevant. How does the organization or program:

  • Does the program or organization help to address the goals of the Boston Creates Plan?
  • Does the program or organization provide access to the arts in areas of the city not already well served by cultural opportunities
  • Does the program or organization provide access to the arts to populations who don’t typically have ready access to the arts
  • Does the program or organization elevate the work of Boston’s creatives, foster the creation of new works, or pursue excellence in the arts?
  • Does the organization demonstrate competent management, and capacity to carry out the proposed work or programs?

Questions should be directed to