The Boston Arts Academy Honors, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Boston Arts Academy Foundation, were held Saturday, hosted by NBC10 Boston's Latoyia Edwards and JC Monahan.
The glamorous event featured high-profile honorees and student performances, all with the goal of raising a million dollars to support the mission of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts.
Film and TV Honoree David Ortiz played with the house band and gave live remarks. Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter was also honored for her work in fashion.
During the BAA's 2021 Honors program Saturday evening, Amazon announced an anchor investment of $150,000 to the Boston Arts Academy, as part of a $1 million donation to arts and cultural institutions in and around Boston.
The company said these funds will provide a much-needed boost to local arts and cultural organizations that have suffered revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources will allow the organizations to expand programming in arts equity and education, create training opportunities for young people pursuing careers in creative fields, and support live performances and discussions surrounding the arts, social justice and inclusivity.
“While talent is everywhere in the city of Boston, opportunity is not,” said BAA Foundation President Denella Clark. “That’s why Boston Arts Academy Foundation annually raises $5,000 per student to support Boston Arts Academy, the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts. Amazon’s $150,000 sponsorship supports one year of arts intensive and college preparatory education for 30 Boston Arts Academy students. We thank Amazon for investing in our diverse and talented students, and we look forward to many more years of partnership.”
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Other recipients include the Boston Children’s Museum and Artists for Humanity.
“The organizations we are channeling resources to are embedded in local Boston neighborhoods and prioritize making art accessible to all Bostonians,” said Jerome Smith, Amazon’s Senior Manager of External Affairs. “From harnessing the power of art to heal communities, to helping under resourced teens launch careers in art and design, to raising up the creative voices of Black and Brown people, these groups are performing groundbreaking work and building a more inclusive and equitable arts community.”
Mayor Kim Janey, who was on hand with her daughter Kimesha for the award program Saturday night, thanked Amazon for investing new resources at a critical time in Boston's art community, which, she said, continues to thrive despite significant challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Boston's vibrant arts and culture scene is integral to the equitable recovery, reopening and renewal of our city, and I'm pleased that such a diverse group of organizations, especially those that engage our young, aspiring artists, will benefit from this funding," Janey said. "After such a difficult year for so many, we're doing all that we can to inspire joy, and that is central to the missions of these organizations."
Nationally, throughout Massachusetts and in Boston, arts organizations have suffered significant revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Massachusetts Cultural Council released a new study in March that shows cultural organizations in the state have lost more than $588.3 million in revenue since March of 2020 -- an average loss of almost $600,000 each.
The same analysis suggests 65% of the organizations with employees have made the decision to, or plan to lay off, furlough, or reduce the hours or wages of their employees. More than 13,000 jobs in greater Boston within the arts and culture sectors have been negatively impacted from the economic downturn stemming from the pandemic.
"Every investment in the arts is an essential investment in the mental health, resilience, and economy of our communities," said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. "It's so heartening to see this level of support from the private sector, especially given the tremendous financial setbacks cultural industries and creative workers faced this year. I hope others follow suit and recognize that an investment in the arts is an investment in Boston's recovery and its future."