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Public Art for Spatial Justice

Grants to Massachusetts Artists, Collaborations, and
Nonprofits for Public Art Projects that Promote Social Justice

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and Barr Foundation

Deadline Date:

05/24/21 11:59 PM ET


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Grants of up to $10,000 to Massachusetts artists, collaborations, and nonprofit organizations for public art projects that promote social justice. Funding is intended for projects that are accessible to the general public. Projects must contribute to the imagination of the community, and encourage a more equitable future for public spaces and public culture. Priority will be given to projects that are rooted in community and/or demonstrate deep relationship to place –particularly rural places and/or places where folks are experiencing/have experienced displacement.

Proposed public art project must: 

  • Be located in the state of Massachusetts
  • Engage the public realm and be available to the general public
  • Projects may include public-facing elements that are engaging both physical and/or virtual spaces. Ideally, projects will engage physical places/spaces, but the Foundation recognizes public health standards continue to evolve during this pandemic. The Foundation will work with grantees to determine safe protocols to meet current public health standards.
  • Creatively cultivate expressions of and/or embodiment of spatial justice through public artmaking. Projects of all artistic disciplines – visual, performative, rooted in ritual, etc.- are eligible.

Eligible projects will be reviewed according to the following funding criteria:

  • Artists/Artistic Collaborations share in NEFA’s values and commitment to the work of dismantling the legacies of racism, anti-Blackness, and white supremacy culture. Priority will be given to projects that:
    • Are led or co-led by artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). The path to dismantling the legacies of racism and white supremacy culture includes centering BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color)-led creative exploration and expression in public spaces.
    • Disrupt harmful historic narratives that uphold structural inequities, decolonize and/or indigenize spaces, and/or centers BIPOC creativity, imagination and expression in public spaces
  • Relevance: Projects creatively engage important public conversation(s) that are or need to be happening in this particular moment, in this particular place. Context is important in public artmaking. Public spaces are not neutral. And public art made in public spaces is not neutral.
  • Integrity: Projects honor the integrity of the people, places, stories, and ideas – past, present, and future- engaged in the artmaking. Public art practices that reduce people, places and stories to tools for artmaking are harmful. Also, artists are collaborators and co-conspirators on this journey towards justice, not saviors.

The Foundation recognizes that feasibility may vary depending on how public health guidelines evolve during the pandemic. The Foundation asks that artists are realistic about feasibility, while acknowledging that this may change as public health guidelines change.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 191563

Estimated Size of Grant:

Public Art for Spatial Justice grants range from $5,000-$10,000.

Term of Contract:

Grantees will have 12 months from the beginning of the grant year to implement projects.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Lead Applicant must be a Massachusetts-based artist or artistic collaboration
- Lead applicant may be an individual(s), fiscally sponsored collective, and/or 501c3 organization.
- Individual applicants and payees must be 18+ years old.
- Artistic collaborations applying may consist of 2-3 individual artists working together, or more formal collectives/collaborations that have fiscal sponsorship or 501c3 status.
- Organizations working in partnership with an artist(s) must be able to demonstrate that the relationship between the artist(s) and organization is built on trust, accountability and reciprocity. Artists are collaborators and co-conspirators on this journey, not saviors.

- Recognizing the intersectionality of artists’ identities, the Foundation acknowledges that artists may also identify as cultural practitioners, activists and community-rooted collaborators, and may be self/community-taught, institutionally trained, or a combination of both. All are welcome to apply.

- Note: Public Art for Spatial Justice Grants are taxable income to individual recipients and reportable to the IRS. Grantees will receive a 1099 from NEFA if total payments exceed the minimum requirements set by the IRS within a calendar year.

Not Eligible:
- Applicants based outside of Massachusetts
- Proposed projects based outside of Massachusetts
- Current Public Art for Spatial Justice grantees are not eligible to apply for another Public Art for Spatial Justice Grant at this time.

Pre-proposal Conference:

To speak to program staff about your grant application, sign up for office hours:

Pre-Application Information:

Application deadline: Monday, May 24, 2021, 11:59 PM ET.
Grant announcements will be made late July/early August 2021.

If you are applying for a Collective Imagination for Spatial Justice and a Public Art for Spatial Justice grant in the same grant round, each application will be reviewed independent of each other and funding is not guaranteed (i.e. you may be funded for one but not the other).

Preview Application Questions:

Public Art Program page:

Spacial Justice paper:

Watch Spatial Justice Grants Webinar:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

To Apply:

Contact Information:
Kim Szeto
Program Director, Public Art

Kamaria Carrington
Program Coordinator, Public Art

NEFA accepts grant applications via an online form. If you require an alternate format or assistance to access the application, please contact:
Jane Preston
Interim Accessibility Coordinator

New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA)
1000 Washington Street, Second Floor,
Boston, MA 02118
T 617-951-0010
F 617-951-0016

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Massachusetts

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