Arts & Creativity

Arts & Creativity Strategies

Goal: Elevate the arts and enable creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts.

Arts and creativity have the power to connect us with each other, to help us understand our dynamic environment, and to imagine new and better futures. In a time of rapidly changing demographics, technological advancements, and evolving art forms, Barr seeks to invest in bold ideas and leaders through three strategies. As we consider new funding opportunities, we look for grantee partners who:

  • Are presenting artistically excellent work;
  • Have a strong, nuanced understanding of their challenges, and approach challenges in bold ways—ready to experiment, take risks, and appropriately pivot and change;
  • Maximize their assets, are well informed about their field, and demonstrate curiosity and a rigorous inquiry process; and
  • Demonstrate field and civic leadership.

Adapting boldly. Spanning sectors. Activating public support.

Our efforts to elevate the arts and enable creative expression to engage and inspire are aligned under the following three strategies:

1. Invest in organizations to be adaptive and relevant.

Invest in organizations to be adaptive and relevant.


  • Provide risk capital for exemplary arts organizations to: embrace artistic risk-taking and bold organizational change; expand the diversity of creative experiences and audiences; and present work that inspires with its excellence and relevance.
  • Invest in organizations with demonstrated effectiveness at increasing capacity of working artists to produce, promote, and present excellent, relevant, rigorous art.

2. Join arts with other sectors to foster creative problem-solving, broaden arts participation, share new resources for the arts, and forge new cross-disciplinary alliances.

forge new cross-disciplinary alliances


  • Creative placemaking: Support initiatives that integrate arts and creativity into community planning and development to strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabrics of communities.

Exploratory Area:

  • The intersection of art, science and technology: Barr is initially focusing on arts and medicine, and the maker movement.

3. Activate public support for arts and creativity.

activate public support


  • Invest in research, policy analysis, and communications to inform strong policies and long-term financing options for arts and creativity.
  • Support the development of leaders, organizations, cross-sector networks, and coalitions that effectively communicate the value of the creative sector, and increase its visibility in electoral and legislative processes.
  • Invest in traditional and new media, forums, and other ways of broadening public awareness of and engagement in arts and creativity.

Download a strategy overview

Arts & Creativity Program Grantmaking Process and Inquiries

Grants awarded by the Barr Foundation originate in several ways. The majority are initiated by our staff. Additionally, given the value we place on long-term partnerships, many grants are renewals for current grantees. However, we also welcome those who feel their work aligns with our priorities to introduce themselves to us through an inquiry process.

To submit an inquiry to the Barr Foundation’s Arts & Creativity Program, please assemble your responses and requested materials outlined in our inquiry form below, and submit via email to arts[at]

Download our Inquiry Form

Three Trends Shaping Barr’s Arts Strategy
Learn more about the ideas that informed these new strategies. In this blog post, San San Wong discusses three major trends Barr’s Arts team explored in the context of strategic planning.