Joy Agenda Announced, Including the Launch of the 2021 Transformative Public Art Program in Boston


May 20, 2021

Victor “Marka27” Quiñonez, winner of the 2019 Transformative Public Art grant, creating the “Back to the Essence” mural in Newmarket Square.

BOSTON – Mayor Kim Janey, working with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, the Boston Parks Department and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, among other departments, today announced the Joy Agenda , which is a citywide invitation, an opportunity and investment in our collective well-being. As a key part of this initiative, the City of Boston and the Boston Art Commission are now accepting applications for the Transformative Public Art Program 2021, which is now in its third year.

“After more than a year of incredible hardship caused by COVID-19 and acts of violence against communities of color across the country, we are looking for ways to foster a fair recovery that allows all Boston residents to thrive. “said Mayor Janey. “We believe that by emphasizing the power of joy in healing and growth, we will be able to come back together as a stronger and more welcoming city.”

Through the Joy Agenda, the city of Boston wishes to focus on:

  • Create spaces to reflect and share what joy means to Boston and reimagine more equitable policies and practices that promote joyful access to public space and other services;
  • Provide residents with a range of ways to safely reconnect with family, friends and neighbors by engaging both virtually and in our vibrant public spaces; and
  • Investing in recovery and renewal by supporting the power and fun that workers in arts and culture, local small businesses and youth bring to the city of Boston.

A key element of this work includes a focus on City-led initiatives that create employment opportunities for creative workers across all artistic disciplines in City communities, organizations and departments. The transformative public art program, led by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, is a component of this initiative.

“Last year we have seen so many artists coming together communities in a context of social isolation and providing collective opportunities for dealing with grief, healing and joy,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, conductor of the arts and culture of the city of Boston. “This program will bring more artistic opportunities to Boston, while investing in the artists and creative workers who need our support more than ever.”

This is the third year of the Transformative Public Art program. Last year, 24 public art projects received grants totaling $ 35,000 under the program. This year the call has been split into three different opportunities:

  • Opportunity 1 is aimed at artists interested in creating murals, which are flexible in location. The artists will be selected on the basis of a written proposal, a portfolio and their interests, and the City will associate them with a site. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Wednesday June 2 at 5 p.m.
  • Opportunity 2 is aimed at artists interested in creating murals associated with specific themes or communities identified by the City. Projects include working with the Hyde Square Task Force and community members to create a mural for Boston’s Latin Quarter in Mozart Park in Jamaica Plain, in collaboration with the Boston Parks Department and community members. to create a mural honoring the legacy of Malcolm X in Malcolm X Park in Roxbury, working with a team of consultants and community members to create a mural commemorating the legacy of Rita Hester and the Transgender Day of Remembrance in Allston, and working with Age Strong Boston and members of the community to create a mural at the East Boston Senior Center. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Wednesday June 16 at 5 p.m.
  • Opportunity 3 is aimed at artists with a specific short-term project and location in mind. Projects may include murals, new media, traditional media, installations or performances, community-engaged cultural practices, social practices, or items that specifically engage youth and / or non-English speaking communities. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Wednesday June 30 at 5 p.m.

Project budgets for Opportunities 1 and 2 will vary from $ 25,000 to $ 75,000 depending on the site. Opportunity 3 project budgets will start at $ 1,000.

This program is open to all arts and culture practitioners, organizers, professional artists, curators, cultural workers, arts administrators, etc. with a strong preference for those who live in or have a connection with Boston and / or the general theme or the theme for an individual site.

The City of Arts and Culture will organize virtual question-and-answer sessions on Monday May 24 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday May 26 at noon. More information on the Transformative Public Art Program can be found here. To apply, go here. To learn more about the Joy Agenda, visit

This press release was produced by the City of Boston. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


Kayleen C. Rice