Barr Foundation


September 28, 2018

Barr Foundation Arts & Creativity Grantmaking

“Elevating the arts and enabling creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts.”

  • Focus on Massachusetts-based and national organizations
  • Give around $50 million annually – around $11 million was designated for arts & culture in 2015. $2.5 million of that was distributed via ArtPlace America. Median gift was $100,000 and most common gift amount was $50,000.
  • According to their website:
    • Grants awarded by the Barr Foundation originate in several ways. The majority are initiated by staff. Additionally, given the value placed on long-term partnerships, many grants are renewals for current grantees. However, they also welcome those who feel their work aligns with our priorities to introduce themselves to us through an inquiry process.

Arts & Culture Mission

Great art transforms the way we engage with the world. It brings beauty into our lives. Through creativity we can transcend conventions and generate new ideas, alternatives, and possibilities. Arts and creativity have the power to connect us with each other, to help us understand our dynamic environment, and to imagine new, better, different futures.

Against a backdrop of rapidly changing demographics, technological advancements, and evolving art forms, Barr’s Arts & Creativity program seeks to invest in bold ideas and leaders. Our overarching goal is to elevate the arts and enable creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts. We will pursue this goal through three strategies: advancing the field’s capacity to adapt, take risks, and engage changing audiences in new ways; fostering opportunities to connect the arts to other disciplines and sectors; and activating public support for the arts.

To achieve their goal of elevating the arts and enabling creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts, we pursue three strategies:

  • Adapting boldly
  • Spanning sectors
  • Activating public support

Learn more about Barr’s priorities and grantmaking process here.


The Barr Foundation is a private, Boston-based foundation with core programs in Arts & Creativity, Climate, and Education.

There is so much potential all around us. We aim to serve as both stewards and catalysts of that potential. As stewards, we nurture and enhance vital community assets.

As catalysts, we cultivate and advance the breakthrough ideas that will shape our collective future.

In all that we do, we focus on achieving impact as a constructive partner, willing to exercise leadership. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts and creative expression, to advance solutions for climate change, and to connect all students to success in high school and beyond. With assets of $1.7 billion, Barr is among the largest private foundations in New England and has contributed more than $834 million to charitable causes since 1999.