Incorporated in 1987, the Arts Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping contemporary artists create and present new works of high aesthetic and contextual value to diverse audiences in greater Boston and other parts of the country. It doesn’t have its own presentation space, but frequently forms alliances with other organizations locally and throughout the country to achieve the best possible support systems for the projects it undertakes. The organization is very flexible in the way it functions and will design a structure for each project to balance the needs of the artist, the local presenting situation, the other organizations involved locally and on tour, and the various audiences that will encounter the work.
The Arts Company’s most recent project was an award winning, one-hour radio version of its highly successful 1993 stage production, .”Turf: A Conversational Concert in Black and White.”
Created by OBlE-award winning artist Robbie McCauley in collaboration with 11 Boston actors, singersand storytellers, “Turf” was a performance with issues of education, race, class in this country, using stories of the Boston school busing controversy in the 1970s as its starting point. Produced in June 1996 in association with WGBH Radio, Boston, ''Turf” was in distribution to public radio stations nationally; in Boston, Troy/Albany, Madison, Louisville and Amherst, “Turf”, and was coupled with live local call-in sessions with McCauley and some of her Boston collaborators. In November of 1996 “Turf” won an Achievement in Radio (A.I.R.) Award for Best Art or Cultural Events Coverage in Boston.
From 1991-1994, The Arts Company worked with McCauley (a New York-based African American writer, performer and director) on a highly successful trilogy of new mixed media performance theatre works based on race relations in this country in the 1960s and 1970s in different parts of the US. All three works were made in close collaboration with localartists and grew out of stories collected from the local communities. The first in the series, "Mississippi Freedom, focused on the voting rights struggle and toured to seven locations in Mississippi in 1992 (we also toured to the 1993 Whitney Biennial in New York and to Houston in March1996); the second, "Turf”, (see above), was presented at four neighborhood locations in Boston in 1993; the third, “The Other Weapon”, centered on stories of the Black Panther Party and was seen at four locations in Los Angeles in 1994.
Another project of The Arts Company in greater Boston was “School’s OUT," a residency and presentation of short video and performance works by gay and lesbian youth from New York and Boston working under the direction of artist Mary Ellen Strom (Strom 1995), on-going since 1993 “School’s Out" was coproduced by The Arts Company and Dance Theatre Workshop in New Work (twice); Boston; Houston (twice); and Manchester, England. In 1995, “School’s OUT” won a prestigious New York Performance and Dance (Bessie) Award.
From March 2 - April 2, 1995 The Arts Company presented “(mal)Adjustment”, a series of new performance, film/video events and discussions focusing on women’s recognition of, adaptation to and/or resistance against various social projections about who women are and what roles they areexpected to play in the last years of the 20th century. The series includes work of more than 25 women artists from the US, Central America, Canada and England; a nee performance art piece by Costa Rican/American artist Elia Arce that The Arts Company produced and toured to various US and Latin American locations; a total of 12 different presentations on 20 separate dates at 8 locations in Cambridge, Boston, AIlston and Jamaica Plain; and partnerships with the Women’s Studies Program and Office for the Arts at MIT, New Words women’s bookstore and two local shelters for battered women.
Other projects include: organization and touring of Red Fish in America: New Independent Film ad Video from the Soviet Union, which was screened by The Arts Company with two visiting Soviet filmmakers present at three sites in Massachusetts and then toured to 14 sites nationwide (1990-91); coproduction (with five European organizations) of "Always the Same Lies” (1991), a dance theater work by innovative young Belgian artist Wim Vandekeybus, which The Arts Company presented in Boston and then toured to nine other US and Canadian cities; production in Cambridge, New York. Philadelphia and Minneapolis (1990-91) of "Black Dirt", a multi-media, visually based theater work by Robert Whitman, one of the founders or Happenings in the sixties; and assistance in the production of independent films by Jacki Ochs and Dan Eisenberg.
A principal goal of The Arts Company is to help artists reach a new level in their work at a critical time in their careers. Another important goal is to make the newly created work available to a wide range of audiences, not just locally but nationally as well. In this effort, it has collaborated with dozens of large and small organizations in its 20-year history, including The Institute of Contemporary Art, WGBH Radio, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, the Harriet Tubman House, MIT Women’s Studies Program, the List Visual Arts Center, Dance Umbrella and Cambridge Public Schools in greater Boston; and The Kitchen in New York, Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Pacilic Film Archives in Berkeley Helena Presents in Montana, LACE and Kaos Network in Los Angeles, American Festival Project in Kentucky, On the Boards in Seattle, the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans, the Rural Organizing and cultural Center and Delta State University in Mississippi, Theatre de la Vjlle in Paris and Sommerfszene in Salzburg, among others. Projects of The Arts Company have been seen in more than 55 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asian.
Funders of Arts Company projects include The Rockefeller Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the LEF Foundation; the Massachusetts Cultural council; the Lannan Foundation; AT&T Foundation; Pew Charitable Trusts; The Ruth Mott Fund; the Trust for Mutual Understanding; Haymarket People's Fund (donor-advised); the Foley, Hoag and Eliot Foundation the New England Foundation for the Arts, and individual contributors.