Why Is This Insurance Company Paying for an Arts Center in Chinatown?

In the past, we’ve focused on Liberty Mutual’s support for basic needs programs in Boston. Lots of funding has gone to local groups that provide shelter, transitional housing, healthcare for the homeless, food, clothing, and personal hygiene. Remember that this insurance company funder is headquartered in Boston and keeps the bulk of its grantmaking right here in the city.

Related: Tips for Boston Nonprofits Applying for a Liberty Mutual Foundation Basic Needs Grant

But as we’ve pointed out, this is also a financial foundation that gives special priority to low-income youth and families, youth with disabilities, and cultural organizations. Today’s local story touches on the last of these commitments: arts and culture in Boston.

The Liberty Mutual Foundation awarded $250,000 in grant money to the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) to develop an arts center. One Chinatown Arts Center is located at 66 Hudson Street, and BCNC’s program promises to raise awareness and appreciation of Chinese culture on the local level.

There’s also a big “access to the arts” component to this grant, which has seen a lot of attention from local funders in Boston lately. By working with BCNC, Liberty Mutual is helping to support community-based artists and providing access to cultural resources for low-income families. The new BCNC venture in Boston is expected to be complete in winter 2017 and have a gallery, studio theater, traditional and contemporary art presentations, and community space.

Although this particular grant is going towards the enrichment of Boston’s arts and culture sector, BCNC is a well-rounded neighborhood center that does a lot of different things for youth and English language learners. It is the largest nonprofit social service provider dedicated to Asian families in the Greater Boston area. And this isn’t the first time that Liberty Mutual has supported this outfit.

“Our neighbors at BCNC offer services to 2,000 families annually and we are happy to give them the resources necessary to continue being a much-needed pillar of the community,” said Melissa MacDonnell, President of the Liberty Mutual Foundation.  “With programs ranging from day care, music classes, youth leadership, English-language learning and family services, BCNC holistically nurture its neighborhood.”

However, it’s important to note that arts and culture isn’t one of Liberty Mutual’s top giving areas, as education and health & human services take those top positions. Like many funders, arts and culture giving tends to stay closest to home, which is good news for Boston nonprofits working in this space. Grant applications are submitted online and are reviewed on a monthly basis.