YEAR IN REVIEW ✸ 2021
Another year passes that defies categorization, which luckily for us, is our thing!
BCA is known for arts experiences that defy categorization. We make it possible for Boston-area artists to take risks so they can experiment freely and create ground-breaking new works. 2021 was no exception.
Thank you for being a part of this extraordinary year!
WITH ALL THE LOVE & SUPPORT…
We were able to try out some big firsts in 2021:
22 New and Returning Residents
In July we welcomed 22 new and returning resident artists and companies to BCA’s residency programs, increasing equitable access to our resources.
You may have met some of them during our current series of virtual artist talks, “Hello My Name Is…”.
1:1 CURATORIAL INITIATIVE
We launched the 1:1 Curatorial Initiative and held two incredible, site-specific shows in the Mills Gallery.
The first of its kind featured artist Catalina Schliebener and curator John Chaich. The second of the series featured artist Mithsuca Berry and curator Sienna Kwami. And just like that, we are already prepping for Raafat Mazjoub: Grounds, curated by Artemis Akchoti Shahbazi, the third edition of 1:1.
We held our first Dancemakers Laboratory Residency, which invited the public into the artistic process and open rehearsal of Ilya Vidrin’s “OtherWise”.
ACTivate is a new 5-day, site-responsive residency in the historic BCA Cyclorama that amplifies the practices of BIPOC and immigrant artists of all disciplines.
We are very grateful to Lyndsay Allyn Cox, our former Senior Director of Programs and Experiences, for helping design one of our newest residencies, and for Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, and her team for helping us to bring life to the BCA Cyclorama.
THROUGH OUR RECURRING RESIDENCIES AND PROGRAMMING…
We continued to provide artists of all disciplines with the time, space, and resources necessary to explore new ideas.
Castle of Our Skins, a Launchpad Music Resident, performed In Black & White, and From The Motherland, and produced a four-month, virtual festival of bite-size music and poetry which goes until the end of this year!
And BCA dance alum, Wendy Jehlen, performed a solo piece titled “Lilith” in the Black Box theater.
AND OVER THE COURSE OF 2021…
We were thrilled to present Combahee’s Radical Call: Black Feminisms (re)Awaken Boston, a series of public installations that recenter the vital legacy of Black feminism(s), archives, and the written word in Boston.
Inspired by direct dialogue with Demita Frazier, co-founder of the Combahee River Collective, and co-organized by Arielle Gray, Cierra Peters, and Jen Mergel, the project commissioned Black Femme artists to occupy public spaces with visual installations, posters, and digital resources, such as: The Roots That Bind, ‘Radical Call’ zine, Combahee Conversations: Interphase, These Magic Hands, and At The Waves’ Edges, ‘Protect Your Seedlings’ installation, Pride Extended Fest, and Our Mothers’ Gardens
IN CASE YOU MISSED OUR DRIVE-BY BIRTHDAY PARTY…
We are officially 50+ years old, or shall we say we’re Mid-Century Modern?!
And although our physical age showed a little this year when our buildings flooded 3 times…,
the show(s) must and did go on!
BUT ADVERSITY ONLY MAKES US STRONGER…
And we had many reasons to celebrate:
- Though we were sad to say goodbye to some staff members this year (including Lyndsay Allen Cox, Elizabeth Haranas, Andrew Grimanis, Amanda Lillie, Jean Chung, and Sarah Jennings: we miss you!), we also grew exponentially. We hired ten new full-time staff (and we’re looking for more!), invested in our interns and volunteer network, and — after a redesign to better uphold principles of equity, transparency, and inclusion — our membership program has been expanding!
- BCA began the important and continuous work of examining and dismantling the systems and practices that inhibit BCA from being an antiracist organization. We began this journey by undertaking a comprehensive racial equity audit in partnership with Steward Cultural Development Group (SCDG).
- We began to reclaim the Cyclorama as an artist resource.
- Our amazing Board of Directors helped us navigate 2021 with poise. We are always grateful for their leadership and support, with special thanks to Jennifer Pinck who became our Board Chair this year, and to John G.F. Ruggieri-Lam, who became Chair Emeritus.
- We are also especially grateful for everything that our Membership Advisory Council did this year. In addition to financially supporting us, you also volunteered at our events, consulted and advised us on our fundraising and communications, continued to help our artist communities blossom, and even called new members to welcome them! You’re amazing.
- For the 30th year, the Cyclorama was open to the public for the incomparable SPOKE Productions’ performative 24-hour vigil ‘Medicine Wheel’ for World AIDS Day.
- We even had the honor of hosting a historic night in the Cyclorama when Michelle Wu became Boston’s next mayor!
ALL OF THIS WAS POSSIBLE BECAUSE…
We deeply believe that arts, culture, and opportunity are basic human needs and fundamental rights.
- That is why BCA proudly endorsed Create The Vote Boston’s policy platform for the 2021 Boston mayoral election, and we’re proud to be deeply involved members of the Create The Vote Boston coalition. The coalition is a collaborative effort involving Boston’s artists, creative workers, cultural organizations, and arts groups to push Boston arts and culture forward through fresh and representative policies.
- We were also glad to advocate for investing in Boston’s Black and brown communities with Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) President & CEO Dr. Aisha Francis. Our Co-Executive Directors Emily Foster Day and Kristi Keefe wrote a joint Bay State Banner op-ed with Dr. Francis. And earlier in the summer Emily and Kristi also penned a Letter to the Editor in the Boston Globe in support of BFIT’s hoped for move to Nubian Square to further expand career opportunities for even more of Boston’s BIPOC communities.
- We are also proud to continue to work as members of the Cultural Institutions Working Group of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission. The Commission is helping do the vital and urgent work of developing shared strategies for fighting climate change in coordination with the City of Boston’s Climate Action Plan.
THEN THERE WAS THE PART YOU PLAYED.
Thank you again for your support!
ARTIST & MEMBER-POWERED
As an artist and member-powered organization, we cannot do any of this without you. Whether you came (and brought others) to our arts experiences, tuned in online, volunteered your time, amplified our social media, or donated to keep our programs and our support for Boston’s artists going, we are so grateful that you’re a part of this thriving community. Boston’s arts and culture is created and transformed by people like you.
NOW THAT WE’VE REFLECTED…
We’re set up to move Future Forward →
Not only will the BCA programs you know and love continue to evolve in 2022, we’re also dreaming up innovative new artist opportunities to incubate and show new work. Plans for the next artistic season include:
- Doubling the total number of artist residency opportunities through:
- 15 new studio residencies;
- 10-12 project-based residencies;
- 5 short-duration, site-responsive residencies in the Cyclorama;
- Continue to prioritize support for artists from BIPOC, queer, immigrant, and other communities historically unsupported by established art institutions;
- Present new community-based events and programs that connect artists to audiences;
- Formalize our commitment to a multi-year equity and anti-racism initiative through our ongoing partnership with Steward Cultural Development Group.
CHEERS TO 2022!
Image/photo credits: Melissa Blackall, Terrence Hayes, Mithsuca Berry, Olivia Moon, Ilya Vidrin, Cierra Michele Peters, Hector René Membreño-Canales, ANIKAYA, Julie Ann Otis, Mary Ellen Strom, Kris Nevaeh, Andrea Blesso, Scalped Productions, Paul Fox, Robert Torres Photography.