Merrimack Repertory Theatre Selected for the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative; $450,000 Grant is Largest Foundation Grant in MRT’s 40-Year History

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The Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) was selected to participate in the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative – as announced earlier today on The Barr Foundation’s blog.

MRT’s engagement in the initiative begins with two grants totaling $450,000 from Barr and the Klarman Family Foundation over three years – making it the largest foundation or government grant in the theatre’s 40-year history.

A partnership between two Boston-based foundations – Barr and the Klarman Family Foundation – the initiative is a $25 million, six-year investment in 29 arts and cultural organizations from across Massachusetts. Participating organizations receive flexible, multi-year operating support grants, in addition to training and technical assistance from TDC, a nonprofit consulting and research firm.

“The Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative is an incredible opportunity to become financially stable, build capacity, and grow our focus on Equity Diversity and Inclusion,” said MRT Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas. “We are thrilled to work with both foundations to position Merrimack Repertory Theatre for growth and success.”

 “Organizations like Merrimack Repertory Theatre are the cultural hearts of their communities,” said San San Wong, Director of Arts & Creativity for the Barr Foundation. “They are sites of public assembly and dialogue, often working to foster understanding and connection across cultural differences. It is our privilege to support MRT in this journey to further strengthen its financial health and capacity to adapt to change – that it might deepen and continue this work for years to come.”

“Arts organizations, including MRT, play a critical role in the health of our communities,” said Laura Sherman, Director, Greater Boston Grantmaking for The Klarman Family Foundation. “We are committed to strengthening this cohort of 29 arts organizations across the Commonwealth that have the ability to connect and enliven communities through culture, tradition and creative expression, and we are proud to be a part of this initiative.”

MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels said, “This type of support for the work we’ve been doing for the past 3 years means we can really start to expand and grow the organization to be the real local and nationwide leader we all know it could be. The ability to create more engagement opportunities, diversify the work we do on stage and invite our community more into the creation of new work, all leads to our goal of being the leader in new play production in the country. Today we’re a huge step closer.”

Representing diversity across artistic disciplines, geographic reach, stages of organizational development, and budget sizes, the 29 organizations participating in the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative include two other organizations in the Merrimack Valley region, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in Malden and Fitchburg Art Museum, as well as two other Boston-area theatres, Company One Theatre and Speakeasy Stage.

The full list of recipients:

  • Academy of Music Theatre (Northampton)
  • A Far Cry (Boston)
  • Barrington Stage Company (Pittsfield)
  • Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (Boston)
  • Boston Modern Orchestra Project (Malden)
  • Cape Ann Museum (Gloucester)
  • Community Access to the Arts (Great Barrington)
  • Community Art Center (Cambridge)
  • Community Music School of Springfield (Springfield)
  • Company One Theatre (Boston)
  • The Dance Complex (Cambridge)
  • Design Museum Boston (Boston)
  • Double Edge Theatre (Ashfield)
  • Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts (Boston)
  • Featherstone Center for the Arts (Martha’s Vineyard)
  • Fitchburg Art Museum (Fitchburg)
  • Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (Great Barrington)
  • Merrimack Repertory Theatre (Lowell)
  • New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! (New Bedford)
  • New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (New Bedford)
  • Norman Rockwell Museum (Stockbridge)
  • Now + There (Boston)
  • Payomet Performing Arts Center (North Truro)
  • Provincetown Art Association and Museum (Provincetown)
  • Raw Art Works (Lynn)
  • The Record Co. (Boston)
  • SpeakEasy Stage (Boston)
  • Worcester Art Museum (Worcester)
  • Zeiterion Theatre (New Bedford)

MRT and each participant in this initiative will receive multi-year, unrestricted operating grants. Additionally, through a grant to TDC, a nationally recognized nonprofit consulting and research group, organizations will also receive customized training and technical assistance, and be eligible for supplemental funds for targeted research, capacity building, and/or pilot projects. Last week, the foundations made the first set of three-year grants under the new initiative, marking the beginning of what is expected to be a six-year journey of learning, collaboration, and growth.

For more information about the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative page, including the ideas underlying the effort, key elements of the experience for participating organizations, selection criteria, and evaluation findings, readers can click here.