Arts Boston, Inc.

Take Yourself to a New Place

aka ArtsBoston, Inc.   |   Boston, MA   |
GuideStar Charity Check

Arts Boston, Inc.

EIN: 04-2563054


Our mission: ArtsBoston creates powerful relationships between arts organizations, the public, and every sector of civic life to build an arts sector that represents the true character and diversity of our city. With our partners, we are expanding audiences, strengthening community, and advocating for the immense value that the arts, culture, and creativity bring to our sector. Our vision: Our vision is a Greater Boston that thrives on arts and culture. A vibrant city that embraces arts and culture as an invaluable asset that powers ideas and creativity, fosters innovation and celebrates diversity.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Catherine Peterson

Main address

PO Box 171376

Boston, MA 02117 USA

Show more contact info



Subject area info

Arts services

Performing arts


Population served info



Ethnic and racial groups

Artists and performers

NTEE code info

Arts Service Activities/Organizations (A90)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Since our founding in 1975, ArtsBoston's work has focused on key cross-cutting needs for the cultural sector: helping arts organizations build audiences, informing the sector through data-driven research, and building systems of support for arts professionals through networks, convenings, and professional development. As the cultural sector navigates ongoing impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are focused on informing, energizing, and supporting a resilient and recovering sector. Please see our Strategic Plan Summary (attached), for further details on our strategic framework.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


ArtsBoston’s members include 146 Greater Boston arts organizations (as of 2022), spanning theater and dance companies, multidisciplinary presenters, music organizations, museums - from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Museum of Fine Arts to Front Porch Arts Collective and Danza Organica, and more. Sixty percent of our members have annual budgets under $500,000. Members benefit from marketing support via the ArtsBoston Calendar, BosTix discount ticket program, and discounted advertising on ArtsBoston’s digital platforms and outdoor ticket booths at Boston’s Copley Square and Faneuil Hall; capacity building via the ArtsBoston Audience Initiative database, professional development workshops (on such topics as hiring and staff retention, audience development, digital marketing, and public health best practices), anti-racism training opportunities and EDI planning resources; and community connections through member socials and the Network for Arts Administrators of Color, Boston.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers

The online ArtsBoston Calendar is Greater Boston’s most comprehensive online compilation of performances, exhibitions, festivals, and free events, featuring 3,600+ cultural organizations and 6,000+ events each year pre-pandemic. The Calendar, our BosTix discount ticket program, advertising at our ticket booths in Copley Square and Faneuil Hall, and our email and social media promotions offer an integrated marketing platform for our members, reaching 150,000+ arts-attending households annually. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered venues and canceled in-person events in 2020, ArtsBoston suspended BosTix and pivoted the Calendar to promote a wide range of digital and behind-the-scenes events to help arts organizations keep their audiences engaged. In the fall of 2021, we restarted BosTix and have leveraged the Calendar to support arts organizations as they reopen and rebuild audiences, with new search-by-neighborhood functionality and spotlights on Boston neighborhoods added in 2022.

Population(s) Served

ArtsBoston has long been committed to arts advocacy and data-driven research collaboration. From 2020-2022, ArtsBoston coordinated a Boston cohort for the Audience Outlook Monitor (AOM), an international longitudinal study that surveyed 40,000+ Greater Boston arts attending households, providing key data to inform audience engagement and reopening strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2011, the ArtsBoston Audience Initiative (AAI) has helped Greater Boston arts organizations better understand and grow their audiences. With 1.4 million unique households in its database, AAI facilitates list exchanges, provides data on demographics and histories of arts attendance, and supports engagement of diverse audiences. The Arts Factor, a landmark study (2014, updated 2019) illustrates the arts and culture sector’s potent impact in driving economic growth, attracting and retaining a talented workforce, and attracting visitors from across the globe to Greater Boston.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers

The Network for Arts Administrators of Color, Boston (NAACBoston) was launched at ArtsBoston in 2016 to provide platforms for connection and learning, foster professional growth, and widen the leadership pipeline. With free membership open to all self-identifying BIPOC arts administrators and artists in Greater Boston, NAACBoston has grown from 40 members at its launch to 447 members in 2022, with resources including a member directory, an active listserv, member events, and a highly regarded cohort-based Mentorship & Sponsorship program that connects early, mid-career, and established arts professionals. NAACBoston’s resources have been particularly important as BIPOC arts workers have navigated disproportionate impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and the simultaneous racial justice reckoning within the cultural sector. NAACBoston is part of ArtsBoston’s ongoing work to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the arts and culture sector and across all of our programming.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Multiracial people
People of African descent
People of Asian descent
People of Latin American descent

Where we work


Commonwealth Award 2015

Massachusetts Cultural Council

Commonwealth Award 2001

Massachusetts Cultural Council

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants engaged in programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Ethnic and racial groups

Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Members in Network for Arts Administrators of Color Boston

Number of website/social media engagement

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Average monthly unique visitors to ArtsBoston Calendar

Total number of organization members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

ArtsBoston member organizations

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

ArtsBoston’s response to the major economic and social disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice reckoning underway in our society has been grounded in our five year strategic plan, adopted in 2019. The plan centers leading systems-level change to help build equity in Greater Boston’s arts sector, through dialogue, collaboration, advocacy, and action, with four strategic goals:

1. Lead dialogues and action to create a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse arts sector;
2. Develop new audiences and increasing equity in arts participation;
3. Use the power of arts and culture to help make Greater Boston a vibrant and welcoming place to live, work, and visit;
4. Advance collaboration and advocacy to increase investment in arts and culture.

Please see the attached Strategic Plan executive summary.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted ArtsBoston’s earned revenue and has pressure-tested us as an organization. With performing arts venues unable to present in-person programming for 18 months beginning in March, 2020, our sector has navigated major disruptions to business models, unprecedented earned revenue losses, staff layoffs and attrition, increased costs for digital infrastructure and COVID mitigation, evolving safety guidelines, and shifting attitudes about public gatherings.

At ArtsBoston, we are committed to embodying the change we seek to support in the cultural sector; and to the idea that “building back better” must advance equity in order to foster resilience. Our approach to building equity in the arts is centered in expanding visibility, engagement, access, and empowerment for marginalized communities, including but not limited to communities of color.

As we chart a course forward, we are evaluating ArtsBoston’s strategies and business model to understand how we can best serve our mission and our community in changing times. ArtsBoston aims to cultivate a staff and board culture that supports individual and collective commitment to embracing a sense of belonging for all; builds cultural empathy and competence; and attracts people who are excited about helping ArtsBoston deepen its impact across diverse communities in Greater Boston.

ArtsBoston is currently focused on the below core program areas, guided by our Strategic Plan and needs expressed by our constituents.

Network of Arts Administrators of Color
Launched in 2016 to address lack of representation of people of color in decision-making roles, NAACBoston creates platforms for connection and widens the leadership pipeline. Dedicated support for NAACBoston’s 425 members (as of 2022) has been essential as BIPOC artists and arts administrators continue to experience disproportionate impact from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice reckoning within the arts and culture sector. As a program of ArtsBoston, with direction and guidance from a Steering Committee comprised of members, NAACBoston is integral to ArtsBoston’s leadership structures and systems change approach to racial justice. Three current ArtsBoston board members have served as Sponsors in the 2022 NAACBoston Mentorship & Sponsorship Program.

Audience Outlook Monitor
ArtsBoston served as the Boston coordinating partner for the Audience Outlook Monitor (AOM), an international longitudinal study of audience attitudes on pandemic reopening, led by the cultural research firm Wolf Brown from 2020 through 2022. Deploying surveys at regular intervals beginning in the summer of 2020, AOM has surveyed over 40,000 Greater Boston arts attending households. ArtsBoston members have benefited from actionable data, an interactive dashboard, and regular briefings with WolfBrown.

Public Health and Re-Opening Best Practices
In 2021, ArtsBoston offered a series of webinars for the arts community, on such topics as reopening strategies with Alan Brown, public health best practices featuring Dr. Joe Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and front-of-house reopening protocols, with the staff of the Huntington Theatre. Attendance averaged 110 organizations per workshop, with plans in the works for additional workshops in 2022 and 2023.

ArtsBoston Calendar and BosTix
In March of 2020, when venues shuttered, we immediately suspended BosTix discount ticket sales and pivoted the ArtsBoston Calendar to feature digital performances, classes, behind-the-scenes tours, outdoor events, and other offerings - which helped keep audiences engaged and the arts in front of the public. Updated daily and amplified via social media, a robust email list, and syndication partnerships, the Calendar receives 70,000 unique views a month by over 40,000 users. Over 90% of traffic is within Greater Boston.

We are now leveraging the Calendar and BosTix (reactivated in October 2021) to recruit and represent a more broadly-defined and diverse array of cultural organizations. In 2022, we added searchability by Boston neighborhood in coordination with the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s All Inclusive Boston campaign.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2.25 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 3.8 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 17% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Arts Boston, Inc.

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Arts Boston, Inc.

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Arts Boston, Inc.

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Sep 01 - Aug 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Arts Boston, Inc.’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $54,130 -$56,767 -$145,589 -$231,216 -$79,112
As % of expenses 2.8% -3.3% -9.3% -26.5% -7.2%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $8,183 -$96,284 -$176,597 -$261,026 -$110,039
As % of expenses 0.4% -5.4% -11.1% -29.0% -9.8%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $1,701,363 $1,556,892 $1,339,957 $633,950 $1,188,216
Total revenue, % change over prior year -25.8% -8.5% -13.9% -52.7% 87.4%
Program services revenue 67.5% 74.5% 71.7% 29.7% 37.5%
Membership dues 6.0% 6.9% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 3.5% 8.6% 19.1% 43.8% 23.1%
All other grants and contributions 23.0% 10.0% 9.2% 26.4% 39.3%
Other revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $1,966,153 $1,745,405 $1,563,308 $871,049 $1,092,273
Total expenses, % change over prior year 13.9% -11.2% -10.4% -44.3% 25.4%
Personnel 39.5% 40.3% 35.4% 50.6% 46.0%
Professional fees 2.8% 3.2% 7.5% 3.8% 6.7%
Occupancy 7.1% 8.0% 8.8% 15.5% 13.2%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.7% 0.4%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 50.6% 48.5% 48.1% 29.4% 33.7%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $2,012,100 $1,784,922 $1,594,316 $900,859 $1,123,200
One month of savings $163,846 $145,450 $130,276 $72,587 $91,023
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $2,175,946 $1,930,372 $1,724,592 $973,446 $1,214,223

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 4.1 3.3 3.1 3.4 4.2
Months of cash and investments 4.1 3.3 3.1 3.4 4.2
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 2.8 2.7 1.9 2.2 0.8
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $665,014 $484,022 $410,066 $244,765 $381,845
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $245,804 $239,203 $124,100 $152,600 $223,285
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $957,238 $958,359 $958,359 $847,780 $851,293
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 65.8% 69.9% 73.1% 72.1% 75.4%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 19.8% 25.0% 35.3% 59.8% 60.6%
Unrestricted net assets $779,741 $683,457 $506,860 $245,834 $135,795
Temporarily restricted net assets $230,336 $98,590 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $230,336 $98,590 $20,828 $14,945 $190,000
Total net assets $1,010,077 $782,047 $527,688 $260,779 $325,795

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Ms. Catherine Peterson

Catherine Peterson has served ArtsBoston as its Executive Director since 1997. Under her leadership, ArtsBoston has received two Commonwealth Awards, the state's highest honor for the arts, and its programs have been recognized in The Boston Globe’s Game Changers innovation report and Boston's 20 Best New Big Ideas list. Catherine served on the Leadership Council for the Boston Creates cultural planning process, and has participated in Boston’s City to City Leadership Exchange. She is a graduate of LeadBoston, the NCCJ's social justice leadership program, Stanford University’s Executive Program for NonProfit Leaders, and Harvard Universitys Achieving Excellence Executive Education Program at the Kennedy School. A summa cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Ms. Peterson has served as Board President for the national service organization Chorus America; a Board member for MASSCreative, the state’s arts advocacy agency; and as a member of the Board of Overseers for Emerson College.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Arts Boston, Inc.

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Arts Boston, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 12/20/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Ms. Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee Consulting

Term: 2022 - 2023

Anna Fitzloff

American Repertory Theater

Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee Consulting

Christine Letts

Harvard Kennedy School, retired

Tivon Marcus

Broadway in Boston

David Spector

Bank of America

Greg Blase

K&L Gates

Alexandra Fuchs

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Ruth Mercado-Zizzo


Jose Nieto


Yvonne Leung Cain


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/1/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/06/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
There are no contractors recorded for this organization.

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser