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Opportunity Fund 4.0 Guidelines (FY21)

Please note there have been changes to the Opportunity Fund to reflect the needs of individual artists in Boston due to COVID-19. In FY21 the Opportunity Fund is only open for applications from individual artists and not arts organizations.

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Opportunity Fund Guidelines


The Opportunity Fund provides grants that support meaningful one-time opportunities for artists living in the City of Boston to further develop their careers, and supports artists who want to plan free arts-focused experiences and events throughout the City that provide increased affordable arts and cultural programming for Bostonians in their neighborhoods. The Opportunity Fund has two grant categories:

  • Artist Career Development (up to $500 grant for applications for one-time professional development opportunities, and up to $1,000 grant for supplies and expenses associated with artistic career), and 
  • Community Arts Experiences & Events (up to $1,000 grant).

Please note that artists who applied to the Boston Artist Relief Fund but have not been funded due to lack of funding are encouraged to apply to the Opportunity Fund and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture will do their best to prioritize these applicants.

Application Cycle

The Opportunity Fund will reopen on July 7, 2020 and will be open on a rolling basis. Please note that deadlines are subject to change and will be updated on our website. Individuals may only receive a grant from the Opportunity Fund once per round of funding. This means only one Opportunity Fund grant per fiscal year (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021). If your experience or event is coming up shortly, you are welcome to apply to the Opportunity Fund to have your expenses reimbursed, but we will not be able to guarantee advanced funding.

Available Funds

In FY21 $200,000 will be available for distribution in $500 and $1,000 grants from the Opportunity Fund. Grant size will depend on the grant category you apply for. Please review the description of each grant category to learn more.

Application Requirements For All Applicants & Awardees

To submit a complete application, applicants must register with the City of Boston as vendors.

If you do not have a Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number please contact our office at arts@boston.gov for an alternative form.

Reporting Requirements

All grantees will be required to submit a final report that describes how the funds were used. Final reports must be filed online within one year of receiving your grant award letter. Please note that if you are awarded a grant, you will be required to apply for a Vendor ID number from the City of Boston in order to receive your funds. Grantees must keep all receipts in case the City of Boston requests them.

Please continue reading for specific guidelines for each grant category:

Artist Career Development Grant (grants of $500 and $1,000)

Who can apply? 

Individual artists living in the City of Boston who want to pursue meaningful one-time artistic opportunities to further their career such as:

  • Funding for professional development opportunities. Whether it is taking a course to receive a certification related to teaching artistry, attending a conference, workshop, or webinar - if it supports your professional development as an artist or teaching artist, we'd like to help cover those costs. Grants up to $500.
  • Funding to help support an artistic project. Whether you are painting a mural, recording an album, or choreographing a dance, this grant can be used by artists of any artistic discipline to help fund a personal artistic project. ($1,000)
  • Funding for materials and artistic career expenses. Whether you need funding to support framing your work, funding to rent a rehearsal or studio space, or to buy equipment you need to make your work, this grant can be used by artists of any artistic discipline to offset the costs of your artistic career. ($1,000)

Who is eligible?

Artists residing within the City of Boston are eligible to apply for the Artist Career Development Grant if their annual household income is under 65% of area median income, or $51,600. Nearly 90% of Certified Artists surveyed make an income of under $51,600. Please note, if you have more than one household income that you share, you must combine all household incomes together to see if you are eligible for this grant. Only individual artists or artists who make a shared/combined income of less than $51,600 are eligible for this grant. For example: If you have a domestic partner who you share incomes with and your shared income is more than $51,600, you are not eligible for this grant.

What expenses are eligible?

  • Cost of materials, equipment, and infrastructure that supports your artistic career,
  • Cost of travel, conference, residency fees, professional development workshop fees and,
  • Costs related to an artistic project, such as help framing paintings before an exhibition, or mastering an album (these are just examples!).

Community Arts Experiences & Events (up to $1,000)

Who can apply?

Individual artists and teaching artists who would like to bring free public arts experiences or events into a community located in the City of Boston. 

  • Community Arts Experiences & Events prioritizes bringing arts experiences into neighborhoods in the City of Boston that have been identified as having a lower concentration of arts activities that are free and open to the public. Priority communities include: Allston/Brighton, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Fenway/Kenmore, Roxbury, Mission Hill, and Mattapan. 
  • Experiences do not have to happen in these geographic areas, but these geographic areas will be prioritized. Whether applicants' arts experience or event will occur in one of these neighborhoods or not, applicants are encouraged to explain how the community they will serve through this arts experience or event are underserved by arts activities in the City of Boston.
  • Experiences or events can be recurring, first-time, or stand-alone experiences or events
  • Experiences or events can be, but are not limited to: Film screenings with post-viewing Q&As, arts learning classes or workshops taught by teaching artists, artist talks and panels, concerts and performances, arts festivals, etc.
  • Experiences and events can be virtual due to COVID-19. When it is safe to do so, experiences and events can be in libraries, schools, or less traditional arts-learning spaces such as senior centers, health centers, community centers, or churches. Please note in-person experience and events applications will only be approved when it is deemed safe to gather in the Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For the time-being, we encourage virtual events.
  • Experiences and events must be free and must be open to the public.
  • If an experience or event includes showing a film, the film must be the applicant's own work and/or the applicant must be able to prove permission to show this work.

Who is eligible?

Artists or teaching artists who are applying to bring arts experiences or events into communities can live anywhere, but the arts experience or event offered must occur in the City of Boston. Arts organizations, Main Streets organizations, schools cannot apply. This grant is only open for applications from individual artists in FY21. 

What expenses are eligible?

  • Materials for the arts experience or event
  • Costs associated with marketing the experience or event
  • Compensation for artist(s) facilitating experience, or artists hired as part of the event or experience.
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