Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Offices of Arts & Culture and Tourism, Sports & Entertainment announced the City of Boston will be kicking off its first season of community arts and cultural programming on City Hall Plaza, launching with the City of Boston’s PRIDE Kickoff last week.
“The renovation of City Hall Plaza has transformed it into a welcoming, accessible civic space for all, and we are so excited to usher in a new series of programming by starting with a celebration of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We look forward to seeing residents and visitors gather together on the Plaza and experience the space in a new, joyful way.”
As part of this season of programming, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is working in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement to support several events celebrating Boston’s LGBTQ+ community, including:
Boston Urban Pride’s Music and Arts Festival – July 2, 2023 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
This event organized by Boston Lesbigay Urban Foundation in collaboration with
Diggity Dom is a showcase of local QTBIPOC emerging artists who are launching into the Boston music scene. Hosted by Amanda Shea the festival will include performances, a variety of LGBTQ+ vendors, and several resource tables for community members.
BBG Fest – July 8, 2023 from 12-10 p.m.
The inaugural BBG Fest produced by Beats by Girlz Boston will bring together girls, women, and gender-expansive people in a celebration of live music and the arts, with the mission of addressing the systems of inequity within the music industry through education, networking, performances, opportunities, and community. BBG Fest aims to uplift the incredible and underrepresented performers in our city, featuring a diverse and unique lineup, including Brandie Blaze, Bad Snacks and Mint Green. BBG Fest will also be partnering with Boston Women’s Market to curate a space for local makers and artists of all kinds to showcase their work. This free, one-day event is open to the public, welcoming everyone of all ages in Greater Boston.
In addition to the above programming, City Hall Plaza will host the following lineup of events:
D&D Beer Garden on City Hall Plaza
Opening June 7, the new D&D Beer Garden is a partnership between two Boston-born and Boston-owned breweries, Distraction Brewing of Roslindale and Democracy Brewing of Downtown Crossing. More details will be announced in the coming days.
Donna Summer Disco Party
This annual summer disco party honoring five-time Grammy winner and Boston native Donna Summer is coming back to City Hall Plaza with a roller skating rink on June 16. O’Mega Red will be performing his hit song “ Angel” featuring Donna Summer and there will be a special tribute performance by Mary Gaines Bernard, Donna Summer’s sister and longtime backing vocalist. This family-friendly event is free and open to the public and will take place between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Open Your Heart: Immigrant Stories and Music from Boston and Beyond
This live staged event on June 30 from 6-8 p.m. will feature stories about several youths’ journeys as immigrants or children of immigrants who came to the U.S. and ultimately landed in East Boston. The event is produced by Hoopla Productions in collaboration with the youth nonprofit ZUMIX.
5 Days of Chess, a series of four free chess workshops led by JP Chess on July 2, July 9, July 16, and July 23 from 2-5 p.m., followed by a chess tournament on August 6.
Summer Dance Party Series (More details to come)
This annual family-friendly event series will feature a variety of music genres including Salsa on July 20, R&B on August 10, Country Line Dancing on August 24, Afro Beats on September 14, and House Music on September 22. The series will be held from 5-8 p.m. on the main plaza.
Activating Art: A Movement for Social Change (More details to come)
Activating Art is a series hosted by Boston Music Award winner Amanda Shea that centers art as a vehicle for social change. Some of the topics throughout the series will include reproductive justice, free speech, reparations and more. They will also choose a local nonprofit to honor and highlight with each session. The sessions will be held on August 17, August 24, August 31, and September 7 from 5-8 p.m., and September 10 from 12-6 p.m.
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture invested a total of $136,700 in City Hall Plaza events as part of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. Additional programming will be added within the coming months.
“Having a variety of new performance and gathering spaces on the Plaza opens up so many opportunities for innovative arts and cultural programming, and we’re so grateful to have our City Hall Plaza Engagement Manager Billy Dean Thomas on board to lead us in curating this programming,” said Chief of Arts & Culture Kara Elliott-Ortega. “We’re happy to help bring these events to the Plaza, and look forward to continuing to support artists, creatives, and cultural organizations in bringing their work downtown.”
“Activating City Hall Plaza this summer is an amazing opportunity to bring residents, families and visitors together. We want everyone to take advantage of all Boston has to offer as we support our organizations from so many different communities,” said John Borders IV, Director of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment. “As we approach the start of the summer, we are excited to create space for people of all ages across the city and region to gather and be together.”
City Hall Plaza reopened to the public last fall after a renovation that transformed it into a civic space for all residents, with universal accessibility, new communal spaces, increased environmental sustainability, and critical infrastructure improvements that will ensure the plaza is safe and accessible for generations to come. The renovation included creating seven new “plug and play” locations for community groups to utilize, with space for 10,000 to 12,0000 visitors on the main plaza and room for a 20,000 to 25,000 person gathering on the entire plaza. The new design also includes three smaller event and gathering places, and a new civic building on Congress Street equipped with a bathroom and other facilities to support public gatherings.
Last year, the City of Boston released a Call to Artists for public art to complement the renovation of City Hall Plaza. There were two separate opportunities outlined in the call. The first was a short-term artwork for the north entrance to the building. The second was for a graphics display for the exterior of City Hall. These commissions are envisioned as the first of a series of artworks for this site that will recognize and celebrate the stories of Boston and City Hall Plaza.
The City selected Rhea Vedro to create the short-term artwork, which will be a sculptural installation on the planting bed at the north entrance. Yuke Li was commissioned to create 2D graphics for the new display system on the west exterior wall of City Hall and the wall panels near the new civic pavilion. The graphics have been installed, and the sculpture is expected to be installed this year.
To learn more about upcoming events on City Hall Plaza and how to host events on the Plaza, visit boston.gov/cityhallplaza.