Apollinaire Theatre Company announced this week it has received a $45,000 grant from the Boston Foundation to launch a Resident Artist Program at the Chelsea Theatre Works, through the Foundation’s Open Door Grants program. Apollinaire Theatre built the new Black Box Theatre at the Chelsea Theatre Works to address the facilities crisis that Boston area performing artists face, a crisis which came to a head with the closure of the Factory Theatre in the South End in 2014. Apollinaire held meetings with Boston theatre artists to determine what their needs and desires were for a theater space, and together they drew up plans for a new theater that would do more than replace the Factory Theatre, it would offer amenities historically out of the reach of Boston’s small theatre community, including on-site rehearsal and shop space.
But theatre companies need more than a home, they need support and resources, said Apollinaire. Now with the Resident Artist Program, Apollinaire will address another issue: Boston is a difficult place for theatre artists to call home. Many talented, hard-working performing artists in Boston can barely scrape by. They have day jobs and families and somehow find time and resources to make their art, but it is not a sustainable model for an individual artist, a small theatre company, or a community. With the Open Door Grant, Apollinaire will be able to better serve Boston’s performing arts community, which will in turn expand Chelsea’s burgeoning arts scene and bring new opportunities to the local community.
Resident companies will be awarded free rent in the Black Box Theatre, rehearsal space for their productions, and shop space to build their sets, along with a project stipend. This will free up the companies’ budgets to reallocate funds where they feel they need it most, be it increased artist compensation, increased marketing efforts to build a stronger audience base, or the ability for resident artists to take on more ambitious productions that carry greater costs. Companies will also meet together to share ideas, brainstorm challenges, and leverage shared resources, working to create a multi-purpose incubation space where artists and companies can collaborate and share resources at every phase of their work. Companies will also be asked to give back to the community of Chelsea, and one resident spot will be reserved for a Chelsea artist or group. “At a time when our research has shown both the need for greater support for artists and the benefits of artists’ involvement in the community, we are pleased to be able to support Apollinare Theatre’s Resident Artist program with an Open Door Grant,” said Orlando Watkins, Vice President for Program at the Boston Foundation. “We look forward to seeing how this program builds and strengthens the network of artists who call Chelsea home.”