City expands Boston Opportunity Fund, an artist grant program

The city is investing in its artists, who help “connect, heal, and inspire”

Opportunity Fund grantee Leona Cheung performs at a local senior center. Courtesy of Leona Cheung

Boston has taken yet another step in solidifying its place as a champion of the arts. 

The city on Wednesday announced the re-launch of the Boston Opportunity Fund, providing more than $240,000 in grants to local artists in 2022 to support their career development and community art projects. This year’s program offers about 40 percent more money to local artists than it did last year.

City leaders have revamped the Opportunity Fund, which is in its fifth year, to help address the current needs of artists whose creative practices and incomes were affected by the COVID pandemic.

Mayor Michelle Wu noted the importance of arts and culture in the city’s recovery from the devastating pandemic. 


“We have the opportunity to use every bit of Boston’s diversity and creativity to grow our economy, support small businesses and help our communities recover. Arts and culture connect, heal, and inspire—and these investments in the arts and our creative community will be a cornerstone of our recovery,” said Wu.

Last year, the city awarded over $170,000 in grants through the program.

The two categories of the 2021 Boston Opportunity Fund are:

  • Artist Career Development Grants, which provide support for professional development opportunities and expenses related to projects that help artists advance their careers. This year, these particular grants have been upped from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Community Arts Experiences Grants, which offer a leg up for individual and teaching artists across various artistic disciplines who want to enrich Boston neighborhoods that have a lower concentration of artistic activities. These activities are free, accessible and open to the public. This year, the program has upped its funding of this particular category from $1,000 to  $10,000.

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture will focus on artists who: 

  • Live or work in communities that have had the highest rates of COVID, like Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, and Mattapan.
  • Are from demographics that suffered the most economic impact due to COVID, such as women, people of color, immigrants, artists who have lower levels of education, artists who identify as LGBTQIAP.
  • Have artistic professions that were most economically impacted by COVID, like performing and teaching artists.

“Shifting our focus to artists who have experienced the highest negative impacts of COVID-19 is crucial to Boston’s citywide recovery efforts,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, chief of arts and culture for the city of Boston. “We’re excited to support artists and communities in a more meaningful way.”

Opportunity Fund grantee Nhi Phan said she’s used her 2021 grant money to help local Vietnamese Buddhist youth girls perform traditional Vietnamese dances.

“We perform at temples and the community, and we used this grant mainly for costumes, equipment, props, and transportation,” said Phan. “This grant really lightened our financial load and helped spread culture through the art of dancing.”

Another 2021 grantee, Hannah Enoy, said the funding helped her buy music equipment during the COVID pandemic that she otherwise couldn’t afford.


“It’s important that our city makes it a priority to financially support independent artists and women of color so that our creative communities can flourish and have access to the resources they deserve,” Enoy said.

Artists can apply to the program by Jan. 28, 2022, at 5 p.m. The grant reopens for applications on March 7, 2022. Artists can apply on the program’s website. 


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