Boston Cultural Council awards 181 grants

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Boston Cultural Council awards 181 grants

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By Maggie Dolan, news correspondent

Local artists and cultural organizations gathered for the Boston Cultural Council Grantee Reception Tuesday night to celebrate awards they received since 2018 began. This year the Boston Cultural Council, or BCC, awarded 181 grants to arts and humanities organizations and individuals, totalling more than $470,000.

The event, held at the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, focused on three categories of funding offered throughout the year: organizational grants for arts and humanities projects, the Opportunity Fund for individuals and groups looking to access opportunities in the arts and the Artist Fellowship Award given to individual artists of Boston.

“The groups here tonight are going to be beautifying our public spaces, something that is important for us to continue to do, improving arts education, promoting inclusion in the arts and so much more,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh, whose Office of Arts and Culture oversees the BCC.

Julie Burros, chief of arts and culture for Boston, was met with a round of applause when she said this year, for the first time, grant recipients would be given the money right away rather than spending their own money and being reimbursed.

“We really listened to what our grantees told us, and this year we made some big changes in new directions in our grant process,” Burros said.

Veronica Robles, a professional mariachi band singer from Mexico, received a grant for her nonprofit cultural dance organization in East Boston, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center. She and her volunteer staff teach Boston-area students traditional dances from Latin American countries. She said she likes the new grant process because she can now afford to pay older students to help teach and continue their involvement.

“I’m excited because I think we received $3,000,” she said. “And that’s not bad for us because we don’t get anything. And so we will decide how we want to spend it, and so that’s good. It’s exciting and also inspiring.”

A group of her regular Tuesday night dancers attended the reception in authentic dance costumes from Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and El Salvador. Robles said she started the program when she moved to Boston and wanted to preserve traditional dance culture from around the world, beginning with Latin America and, she hopes, continuing with other countries.

“Through the dance I connect with the community,” she said. “And when I came to Boston I saw the lack of representation of the traditional music, but there’s people here who love their culture and traditions.”

The event featured bongo and singing performances by students from Paige Academy, an elementary school in Roxbury. They sang classic songs of peace and positivity to display their grant-receiving project.

“This year they received a grant from the Boston Cultural Council to support ‘A Lovely Day,’ a flash mob that will be coming to a neighborhood near you,” said Bridgit Brown, the introductory speaker who also helped organize the event.

Complete with a buffet of hors d’oeuvres and music by the Paige Academy All-Stars, the reception concluded with a chance for the grant winners to mingle.

“This is a big deal in the city of Boston,” Wash said. “I want to thank you for continuing to be creative, continuing to think outside the box and continuing to push us in the city so we stay ahead of the curve.”