Massachusetts Receives More Than $1 Million in NEA Grants

The state's arts programs and organizations will receive 43 individual grants.

nea grants massachusetts

The BSO received $75,000 from the NEA, as well as another $50,000 for Tanglewood / Photo by Marco Borggreve courtesy of Boston Symphony Orchestra

The National Endowment for the Arts, introduced in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To date, the independent federal agency has given out more than $5 billion in grants to arts programs and organizations throughout the nation.

Now, the NEA is carrying on the tradition by inaugurating its next 50 years of funding with a round of nationwide grants that total $27.7 million. Massachusetts is receiving $1,377,000, divided up into 43 grants.

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, an annual celebration of international dance held in the Berkshires, is receiving the largest grant in the state—$100,000 to support its presentation of dancers, as well as education and outreach activities.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, is receiving the largest grant in Boston proper, with $75,000 allocated towards concerts and outreach activities inspired by the works of William Shakespeare, which will be hosted to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the legendary bard’s death next year. The BSO also received an additional $50,000 to support the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood Music Center.

Other large grants include $70,000 for the Museum of Fine Arts (to support the catalogue for upcoming exhibition “Megacities”), $65,000 for Project STEP (to support its intensive string music training program for talented minority youth), $60,000 for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (to support the artist-in-residence program), $55,000 for MASS MoCA (to support new commissions from Richard Nonas and Nick Cave), and $50,000 for Boston Ballet (to support a program of works by Karole Armitage, Yury Yanowsky, Jose Martinez, and Norbert Vesak).

Boston’s theater programs, some of which are experiencing ongoing struggles, are also getting a boost from the NEA, which is awarding $50,000 to the American Repertory Theater, $30,000 to the Huntington Theatre Company, and $10,000 to the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. The Wang Center for the Performing Arts, which is losing its sponsorship from Citigroup Inc. next year, will receive $35,000 to support its ArtWeek arts festival.

Earlier this year, NEA chairman Jane Chu joined Julie Burros, Boston’s Chief of Arts and Culture, on a walking tour of the local arts scene. Shortly after, the NEA awarded the city with a $100,000 Our Town award, which now partially funds a new artist-in-residence program called Boston AIR.

For the full list of 1,126 nationwide grant recipients, visit