BOSTON, Mass. – The Boston Foundation awarded The Theater Offensive the largest grant the organization has ever received, $350,000 to be put towards deepening its impact in Boston neighborhoods, specifically Dorchester, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and the South End. The operating grant supports The Theater Offensive’s OUT in Your Neighborhood (OUT’hood) programs that connect LGBT neighbors, artists, community organizations and local businesses. The Theater Offensive’s OUT in Your Neighborhood strategy engages local community members in creating art that gives voice to the diversity of LGBT experience where we live, work and play.
“The needs of our LGBT community have changed, and we developed our OUT in Your Neighborhood strategy based on those needs. Based on the initial success of OUT’hood, we garnered great support from individuals in our communities. Since then, foundations have come aboard as well,” said Sara Farber of the Board of Directors. “But the community needs are great, and we continue to need increased support to meet those needs.”
Collaborates with other organizations
In the first year of OUT’hood, The Theater Offensive has engaged thousands of Bostonians in over 150 theatrical activities including street theater, community workshops, performances and full productions. Additionally, The Theater Offensive OUT in Your Neighborhood has collaborated with BAGLY, Fenway Health, Boston GLASS, The Home for Little Wanderers, the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, and Discover Roxbury, among others.
“When we started in 1989, it was rare to see an LGBT-themed show anywhere in Boston. We’re proud of our part in changing that,” said Abe Rybeck, Executive Artistic Director. “But 23 years later, outside what you could call the “theater ghetto,” in most neighborhoods, you still can’t see an LGBT-themed show. Over a year ago, The Theater Offensive embarked on a bold new adventure that has impacted thousands of lives and may change everything you thought you knew about Queer Theater. Ashley, a True Colors: OUT Youth Theater troupe member from Mattapan, inspired us when she put it this way: ‘Why do I have to take two trains and bus just to be who I am? I want to be OUT in My Own Neighborhood!’”
The Theater Offensive has many OUT in Your Neighborhood activities planned for the next couple of months: May 17-18, see award-winning transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey’s The Secret History of Love. True Colors: OUT Youth Theater is touring their original play #OvertheRainbow, throughout the month of May, including public performances on May 15 and May 29. The Neighborhood Pride Tour featuring a workshop production of Letta Neely & Melissa Li’s original musical, 99% Stone hits the streets for the month of June.
The Theater Offensive: OUT in Your Neighborhood works in Boston neighborhoods to create original, groundbreaking works by, for and about the LGBT community. Their year-round community-based workshops, intensive engagement with at-risk youth to end bullying, and free street theater performances are focused in Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and the South End. OUT in Your Neighborhood expresses the diversity of the city of Boston, gives voice to underserved LGBT community members, creates avenues for cross-cultural dialogue and breaks down the barriers of homophobia, bigotry and hate.
The Theater Offensive started 1989, led by current Executive Artistic Director Abe Rybeck. Throughout its history The Theater Offensive has furthered its mission “to form and present the diverse realities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation and political orthodoxy to help build a more honest, progressive community.”
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of $850 million. In 2011, the Foundation and its donors made almost $78 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $81 million. The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.