Celebrity Series of Boston Receives Barr Foundation Grant to Expand Innovative Artistic Programming, Community Initiatives, and Technology; Grant covers 30 months of program expansion on stages and in Boston neighborhoods

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Celebrity Series of Boston Receives Barr Foundation Grant to Expand Innovative Artistic Programming, Community Initiatives, and Technology

Grant covers 30 months of program expansion on stages and in Boston neighborhoods


(Boston) Celebrity Series of Boston, one of New England’s leading arts presenting organizations, has received a grant from the Barr Foundation to support artistically innovative programming, expand public performing arts projects, broaden community outreach through the Neighborhood Arts initiatives, and enhance the online web presence of the organization. The $600,000 award covers 30 months of programming and activities that will catalyze innovation, risk-taking, and collaboration, enabling Celebrity Series to offer a broader range of artists and artistic work.


Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director of the Celebrity Series, says, “We are thrilled to receive this significant award from the Barr Foundation. This investment will catalyze artistic innovation and growth on concert stages, in our community collaborations, and in our work in the public realm. We are deeply grateful to the Barr Foundation for this meaningful vote of confidence in our work.”
“Celebrity Series has a bold vision to increase the range of adventuresome programming,” said San San Wong, senior program officer for Arts & Creativity at the Barr Foundation. “Distinguished national and international artists who are masters, emergent talents and risk-takers from across disciplines and cultural practices, will advance more exciting and dynamic spectrum of cultural offerings for Greater Boston’s audiences and communities.”


The Barr Foundation award will catalyze three key areas in the Celebrity Series’ programming and infrastructure:




Since the founding of the Celebrity Series in 1938, over 300 world renowned artists, ensembles, orchestras and dance companies have given their Boston debut on a Celebrity Series stage. Many early career artists who have gone on to major success have been debuted in Boston by the organization, and performances that mix genres and media, represent diverse cultural perspectives, and work in more contemporary aesthetics represent a core part of the annual programming. Initiatives such as the Debut Series, launched in 2012, and Stave Sessions, launched in 2014, present emerging artists in classical and contemporary music, and often introduce audiences to new works and the next generation of performing artists.


Amy Lam, Celebrity Series Artistic Programmer, says, “This award from the Barr Foundation is game-changing for the organization. It will enable us to move forward boldly on the programming front, allowing us to undertake new and innovative initiatives that we weren’t able to do in the past.”




Alongside mainstage performances, Celebrity Series’ Arts for All! community engagement programs connect a dynamic network of hundreds of community collaborators, reaching thousands of individuals annually, through more than 100 public activities. Arts for All! programs include Neighborhood Arts (hands-on, interactive workshops for youth and free community concerts for audiences of all ages at neighborhood venues in Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and the South End, led by a core group of Boston area artists); Artist Connections (master classes with mainstage artists in public schools and conservatories); Take Your Seat (free and discounted tickets to mainstage performances); and large-scale, public participatory performance projects such as Street Pianos and Let’s Dance Boston. By activating public spaces, catalyzing community connections, and making the performing arts more visible and accessible to everyone who wants to participate, Celebrity Series is raising the level of cultural participation in the city.


Robin Baker, Senior Manager of Community Engagement, added, “The Barr Foundation’s support will give us the means to bring Boston-based and world renowned artists to community settings that are natural gathering spots within local neighborhoods. We are excited for this opportunity to deepen artistic and community collaborations, fueling participation in the arts across the city and helping us realize our vision of Arts for All!.




Strengthening digital infrastructure and communications systems is increasingly critical to support mission-driven growth and ensure that the Celebrity Series can reach all of its audiences, artists, and community partners through a long-term investment in technology.

About Celebrity Series of Boston

Celebrity Series of Boston was founded in 1938 by pianist and impresario Aaron Richmond. Over the course of its 78-year history, Celebrity Series has presented an array of the world’s greatest performing artists, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arturo Toscanini, Ignace Paderewski, Artur Rubenstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern, Andrés Segovia, Kirsten Flagstad, Marian Anderson, Luciano Pavarotti, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Martha Graham, Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mstislav Rostropovich, and the New York City Opera Company.


The Celebrity Series has been bringing the very best performers–from orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, and more–to Boston’s major concert halls for 78 years. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experiences, transform lives and build better communities. Through its education initiatives, the Celebrity Series seeks to build a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience–on stages, in schools, at home– everywhere.


The Celebrity Series of Boston, Inc. receives generous support from Amy & Joshua Boger, Leslie & Howard Appleby, the Barr Foundation, the Boston Cultural Council, The Boston Foundation, the Stephanie L. Brown Foundation, Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC, the Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Deloitte LLP, Donna & Mike Egan, Foley & Lardner LLP, Gabor Garai & Susan Pravda, David & Harriet Griesinger, Zachary Haroutunian and the Garbis & Arminé Barsoumian Charitable Foundation, the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation, Paul L. King, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Joseph McNay, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Eleanor & Frank Pao, The Peabody Foundation, PTC, the Cynthia and John S. Reed Foundation, the Royal Little Family Foundation, the Stifler Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Henri A. Termeer, Michael and Susan Thonis, Tufts Health Plan, Sanjay & Sangeeta Verma, Nancy Richmond Winsten, Anonymous, and many others.








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