‘Outside the Box’ Festival Won’t Return Until 2015

Organizers are restructuring before their next event series, they said in an email.

Photo via Outside the Box on Facebook

Photo via Outside the Box on Facebook

A more-than-weeklong arts festival that brought big-name acts and performances to Boston’s City Hall Plaza and the Common will not be returning again until 2015 due to restructuring and “changes ongoing in the city.”

According to an email sent out by organizers of the “Outside the Box” festival, which took place last summer as a way to “invigorate the outdoor arts scene” in Boston, the nonprofit’s schedule of performers has been put on hold so the group can spend the next 365 days coming up with a better concept for the years to come.

“We are going to take the next year and build an organization comprised of the finest organizations and individuals in the region that share the mission of Outside The Box,” said an email sent to performers that applied to appear on stage this year. “Together we will build a festival that will return in the summer of 2015 that will be comprised of the entire community, not just for the entire community.”

The email continued to outline the organization’s plans for the future:

We are building a revised organization that invites you to be part of this artistic evolution. Since you have submitted materials for consideration for participation, we will keep that and correspond with you as we plan the 2015 Festival. … In addition to performing, we welcome your support and participation in other ways as well. Later this spring, we will introduce a membership program that we would like you to join. Perhaps you would like to join a committee where your business talents can be utilized for planning the festival. If there are other areas of interest that you could help, such as offering your time or services for office support, social marketing, creative design, website maintenance, membership assistance, accounting, or others skills, we invite you to be part of this organization.

Tanya Matthews, director of artistic development for the event, signed the email, which was forwarded to Boston. The deadline for submissions to perform in 2014 was supposed to be Valentine’s Day. The email didn’t detail the reasons behind the organization’s decision to skip hosting Outside the Box this summer, but requests for more help from the community suggest the group needs additional hands on deck in order to carry the event forward for its next debut.

“With so many changes on going in the city at this time, and the expansive nature of our mission, we feel we need this next year to bring all the essential parties together to accomplish the original goals of the festival,” an organizer wrote in a follow-up when asked for comment.

Phone calls made to Outside the Box for additional comment were not immediately returned on Tuesday. Artists that have already submitted materials for consideration for the now-canceled 2014 series will be reconsidered for the following year. The social media sites associated with the Outside the Box event have not been updated to reflect the latest announcement, and organizers said the email to performers was a merely a heads-up before the media was notified.

Last year’s event drew more than 650,000 people to the Common and City Hall Plaza where more than 3,000 artists performed, and produced $62 million in economic growth for the city. Big name bands last year included headliners the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Los Lobos.

But the free, nine-day festival was plagued with problems from the start, most of which weighed on the shoulders of the event’s sole philanthropist, Ted Cutler, who paid upwards of $5 million to host the event.

“One man built the inaugural Festival to prove that the local artists of Boston could create the most powerful event in the city. That has now been documented.  or this festival to continue, however, the next version of Outside The Box must be created,” the email to performers said. “We look forward to returning in 2015.”