Published On: January 11th, 2024

January 11, 2024 | Cambridge, MA

In a move to expand local artists’ access to performance and studio space, five arts organizations have received grants totaling $31,248 from the Cambridge Community Foundation. The grants are the first distributed by the Arrow Street Arts Fund, a partnership with Arrow Street Arts to give broader access to a new performing arts space at 2 Arrow Street in Harvard Square.

The Arrow Street Arts Fund was created in January 2023 to help strengthen the local arts ecosystem by increasing access to affordable, welcoming, multiuse arts spaces in Cambridge. In addition to lessening the gap between the needs of artists and the availability of performance spaces, grants from the Arrow Street Arts Fund aim to support artists from historically underserved groups and diverse backgrounds. The second-round grant application is now open through mid-February.

“The arts are pivotal to the identity and character of Cambridge, but the ecosystem is at risk when artists and arts organizations struggle to access spaces that fit their budgets and needs,” said Christina Turner, director of programs and grantmaking at the Cambridge Community Foundation. “We hope the Arrow Street Arts Fund will be one piece of the puzzle in helping alleviate stresses on our local arts community. The Foundation is looking forward to seeing this inaugural group of creatives – and future grantees – invigorate this new, open community space with their unique projects.”

The five inaugural grant recipients (listed below) plan to use Arrow Street Art’s space for projects of their own design, including theatrical performances, teaching residencies for choreographers, multidisciplinary dance showcases, and open dance studios. They kicked off their programming on site this week.

A nonprofit founded by arts advocate David Altshuler, Arrow Street Arts reflects the vision that “art creates community and community creates belonging,” and the organization and its venues – a street-front studio and a black-box performance space – have been designed to be a welcoming collaborator for both local artists and community organizations.

Coming soon to Arrow Street Arts

The Arrow Street Arts Fund grant will help Midday Movement Series bring to fruition a new project called Rough Drafts, providing month-long teaching residencies to six early- and mid-career choreographers, which include informal showings of the teacher-choreographers’ works-in-progress.

“It’s been hard to bounce back into the community since COVID when space for contemporary dance has been a significant issue,” said Marissa Molinar, founder and director of Midday Movement Series, a contemporary dance initiative that supports professional development for dance teachers. “We appreciated that Arrow Street Arts engaged us in conversations before the space was built and considered the needs of community artists in their design. We were excited to be able to pitch to Arrow Street our idea for a longer-term, deeper teacher residency – which is higher cost – and be supported to bring it to life.”

Local choreographer Jessica Roseman will be rehearsing her latest work, Nourish, in the studio and will offer open rehearsals leading up to two public performances in June. Nourish is inspired by her healing, creative movement classes with Black mothers in Cambridge that took root during the pandemic.

“It is a huge challenge to plan, budget, and secure long-term rehearsal space to choreograph new dances,” said Jessica, founder of Jessica Roseman Dance. “I’m heartened that Arrow Street Arts is making it possible for more artists to make art affordably and excited for others to learn about and make use of this wonderful space. It’s so important for performance artists to be able to access venues like this for both large-scale and small works.”

The Arrow Street Art Fund’s winter grants cycle is open to applications. Local performing artists, arts groups and organizations are invited to apply until February 15 at 5pm. Learn more about applying here.

About the grant recipients:

Boston Opera Collaborative: $7,465

Boston Opera Collaborative (BOC) is committed to reducing barriers for opera artists and audiences. Their programming centers around providing professional performing opportunities for emerging artists in the Boston area and bringing intimate and unique operatic experiences to the Boston area. At Arrow Street Arts, BOC will present Georges Bizet’s and Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen (Carmen) April 4 through 7. Providing their artists with hands-on experience in a sizeable theater in a larger-scale production is invaluable to their performers’ growth and development.

Janelle Gilchrist Dance Troupe: $3,893

Janelle Gilchrist Dance Troupe is a women-led and Black-owned Ballet company that works within the Cambridge community. Funding from this grant will be used to showcase two works: Journeys 2018 and Danzas y Canciones. It will provide her professional dancer with the opportunity to perform in properly equipped dance spaces. These funds will alleviate any rental costs, allowing the organization to be able to pay their dancers for their time and effort.

Jessica Roseman Dance: $8,410

Through her Nourish project, Jessica Roseman works with Black mothers from Cambridge in partnership with Cambridge Center For Families to provide a healing, creative community together. This work has inspired Jessica’s new choreographed work, also called Nourish. Funding will be used to hold periodic open rehearsals and showcase Jessica’s solo dance as it develops. Rehearsals will continue for six months, culminating in two performances scheduled for June.

Jo-Mé Dance: $2,800

Funding will be used to produce their upcoming show, Guilty Until Proven Innocent (The Sean Ellis Story). This contemporary dance work, choreographed by Joe González, featuring eight majority BIPOC contemporary dancers, will be based on the story of Sean Ellis, a 19-year-old Black man wrongfully imprisoned in Boston for 22 years. This piece will shed light on the ongoing racialized violence that police exhibit against people of color, in addition to bringing healing, and acting as a call to action in the fight for justice, explored through a contemporary dance lens.

Midday Movement Series: $8,680

Midday Movement Series will use funding to offer a process-focused platform supporting early-career and mid-career contemporary dance-makers to deepen their works-in-progress through a three-pronged approach. Six artists/companies will participate in month-long teaching residencies with a final informal showing of work-in-progress, and two showcases in July. All program components are free to the artists (except classes, where artists earn 60% fees) and free or low-cost for audiences.