Studio 551 at Boston Center for the Arts

As we approach our 50th year, Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) will reaffirm our commitment to providing artists of all disciplines the freedom and resources to make new work and take artistic risk. In the last decade, BCA has done this through an innovative and successful short-term residency program in the visual arts, dance, theatre and music. Building on this work, we will expand this support to a greater number of artists through Studio 551—a new multidisciplinary residency program for Boston-area artists. Studio 551 is a direct response to the growing need for affordable and equitable access to studio, rehearsal and performance space for visual and performing artists in Boston.

Studio 551 will support a broad range of disciplines for periods that range from a few months to several years, with benefits and expectations unique to each discipline. This residency program will transform the way we utilize our campus to create equitable access and valuable new resources for a larger and more diverse group of artists at all stages of their careers.

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Studio 551 FAQ

What is the Artist Studios Building (ASB)?
The Artist Studios Building is one of three buildings on the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) campus. In 1974, BCA was granted a 100-year lease by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for $1.00. Though the BCA doesn’t have a mortgage or rent payment, it is responsible for upkeep, maintenance and repairs for its physical plant. The BCA operating budget for 2019–2020 is a lean $3.6m, 25% of which is dedicated to operating and maintaining the campus. Read more about the history of BCA here.

The ASB includes 52 work-only studios for artists and arts organizations (studios are not live-in spaces). Studio sizes range from 72 square feet to 1,100 square feet. BCA rents these spaces to its tenants for approximately 1/3 of market rate. Artists working in studios at BCA have included visual and performing artists, and small performing and visual arts organizations.

What is Studio 551?
Studio 551 is a vibrant multidisciplinary residency program at 551 Tremont Street that houses short- and long-term residencies for artists working in visual arts, dance, theatre and music and at all stages of their careers.

The program will provide artists with:

  • 24/7 access to private and/or shared studio, rehearsal, exhibition and community space;
  • A vibrant intergenerational community of contemporary visual and performing artists;
  • Creative practice development opportunities and marketing support offered by BCA staff and a wide variety of arts practitioners;
  • Program of public and private events and activities to encourage artistic growth, community building and artistic collaboration.

Why change the Artist Studios Building (ASB) to a residency program?
The Residencies of Studio 551 were developed over the last year in response to recent studies indicating that affordable workspace is a significant barrier to artists producing new work, and that such spaces continue to disappear within the city limits at an alarming rate. BCA recognizes that artists need time, space, and resources to develop new works, take risks and push their practice. This new multidisciplinary residency program is designed to provide equitable access to these critical resources for a larger, diverse cohort of artists.

Are you evicting the current artists in the Artist Studios Building (ASB)?
Current studio artists have been informed about this programmatic launch and are welcomed and encouraged to apply to one of the residency programs in Studio 551.

What are the criteria to get into a Studio 551 residency program?
Artists working in a broad range of practice areas and at all stages of their careers will be considered for a residency. Each residency has different criteria and expectations, but all will be underpinned by our unwavering commitment to creating a diverse, equitable, multigenerational cohort of resident artists. BCA has formed a Studio 551 Advisory Council to advise on the refinement of the residency program and application criteria. Each council member has a unique set of experiences and expertise to offer, and all are deeply committed to supporting Boston’s artists.

When will the Studio 551 programs be implemented?
After listening to feedback from BCA studio artists and members of the cultural community at large, BCA Co-Directors Emily Foster Day and Kristi Keefe are reviewing the timeline for the roll-out and launch of Studio 551 and making some adjustments, which will be announced on Monday, December 2, 2019. In the interim, BCA Studio Artists have been informed that they will no longer be expected to vacate their studios on May 1, 2020.

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