BSO In Residence 2017-2020 Program Description and Guidelines

The BSO in Residence program is designed to build a reciprocal partnership between a specific neighborhood and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in a focused setting over a period of three years.  The residency is intended to be a co-designed, multi-year program of events addressing community need, strengths, and artistic and cultural goals.  Residency experiences will draw from the BSO’s existing Education and Community Engagement programming, and include new offerings specifically addressing partner community interest and need.  The program places the BSO in the position of listener and learner within the community, embedding itself as a partner committed to bringing long-term value and resources to the partner neighborhood.

In order for the program to be successful, co-design between the community and the BSO will be essential.  This includes the creation of shared program goals.  Potential shared program goals could include:
  • Developing an ongoing and reciprocal relationship between the partner community and the BSO
  • Increase access to high-quality music experiences for all students in the partner community
  • Creating a significant impact in the partner community, and a sense of pride and ownership in orchestral music and the BSO
  • Allow the BSO to become  increasingly informed and enriched by the communities it serves
  • Lift up the artistic and cultural assets of the community

Timeline and Program Components:

In order to prepare for year one of each residency, a planning period will take place, allowing the BSO to open an application process to interested Boston neighborhoods, to identify a partner community from submitted applications, and to build the infrastructure necessary with and within the partner community to plan for the residency years.

Program applications will be accepted from December, 2016 to February, 2017.  The BSO will select a partner community in February, 2017 (from all applications received).  In spring of 2017, a Community Engagement Committee will be formed with the selected partner community, comprised of BSO staff and community members.  This committee will meet on a regular basis over the course of three years and will serve as the sounding board, planning body, and implementation group for all program activities.  Committee members will be drawn from partner organizations in the neighborhood such as schools, libraries, YMCA/afterschool programs, arts and culture/performance centers, senior centers, faith-based organizations, hospitals, parks, and community councils or political leadership. 

The partner community will be expected to help to identify and recruit potential committee members. Members of the committee will receive a stipend of $50 per committee meeting attended, since the BSO recognizes that they will be sharing valuable time from their personal schedules to participate.

A three-year timeline of residency experiences will be designed by the Community Engagement Committee, highlighting the strengths and existing artistic richness of the neighborhood.  Each year of the program will take on a distinct look and feel, depending on the articulated interests and needs of the partner community.  Attention to reciprocity, depth of interaction, communication, and exchange will be critical to the success of the program. 

Based on community need and interest, a residency might include the following components.  Some are drawn from the BSO's current programs and others represent potentially new offerings:

  • Community Music Creation Project: A large-scale multi-year project in which the BSO works with community members to gather and create song and/or curate/advise local performance, leading to a shared full orchestra performance with the BSO as a capstone to the residency arc.
  • Neighborhood Day of Community Service: A day of service involving BSO staff, musicians, and Board members.
  • Musical Block Party: A day of celebration to mark the beginning of the BSO residency, involving food, music, and dancing.
  • BSO and/or Pops musicians “in residence” within communities: Facilitating/overseeing programs and performances individually – creating a musician-community connection.
  • Conductor visitors: Visits by BSO conductors Andris Nelsons, Thomas Wilkins, and/or Keith Lockhart to the community for events.
  • Concerts for Very Young People: Existing program that brings BSO musicians together with young children and their families for live, interactive performances.
  • Community Chamber Concert: Existing program that provides high-quality, relevant and engaging free chamber music concerts performed by BSO musicians.
  • School-related activities: Musicians participating in performances, professional development workshops for educators, parent and family programs, potential assembly visits, etc.
  • Partner-related activities: BSO/Pops musicians/guest artists/conductors interacting with local music/arts organizations.
  • BSO Family Concert: Tickets to BSO Family Concert for any interested community member.
  • Public Q&A: Exchanges between community organizations in addition to the BSO (including multi-organization events).
  • Tanglewood Trips:  Curation of a Tanglewood experience for 200 local community members, exposing them to the BSO’s summer home.
  • DARTS (Days in the Arts) participation: Recruitment of local middle school students to participate in DARTS, the BSO’s residential arts immersion program at Tanglewood

After the three-year partnership ends, the neighborhood partner will move to “alumni” status; the relationship between the community and the BSO will continue in a way that is sustainable for both.  Past communities will continue to be invited to events at Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood, with additional program offerings TBD based on community need and interest.

Eligibility and Application Process:

  • Applicants should be individuals/leaders who represent organizations in a Boston neighborhood; IDEALLY, applicants will represent an informal consortium of 2-3+  organizations, schools, non-profits, faith-based institutions, and/or businesses
  • Applicants must represent ONE Boston neighborhood, per the list on the application form
  • The BSO will review applications and make selections with the following criteria:
    • The need to include a wide range of organizations from across human service areas and communities in the partnership; partner organizations will be chosen with an emphasis on anticipated diversity of organizational and individual involvement
    • Ability to participate fully as indicated in the terms below 
    • Match between the needs of the community as articulated in the application, and the resources the BSO is able to offer through this program
    • If the organization has been a part of BSO community work in the past, their engagement in all activity offerings and quality of communication


The Executive Director of a neighborhood arts organization speaks with the principal from the neighborhood elementary school about the BSO In Residence program.   They recognize the potential of the partnership to enhance and amplify the arts and culture work already taking place in their community.  After discussing their shared interest and potential goals for participation, the ED and principal work to round out their commitment and application by contacting a representative from the neighborhood YMCA, the leader of a local faith-based institution, a neighborhood “mover and shaker” in the senior community, and a representative from the local police precinct.  An application is submitted to the BSO on the part of this informal consortium with other potential partners identified and listed on the application.  If selected, representatives from across the organizations are committed to being involved as members of the Community Engagement Committee.


The ED of a neighborhood arts organization believes that their organization’s work and their public profile could be strengthened by the BSO In Residence program.  They apply independently, securing letters of support from internal board members and listing potential neighborhood partners without speaking with them in advance.

NOTE:  The majority of correspondence in the BSO in Residence program will take place via email. Coordinators should have access to an email account (email of a friend or colleague is suitable) and be willing to use email as their mode of communication with the BSO

Applications for the program are due by February 15, 2017.

Application/Program Timeline:

February 15, 2017 - Application Deadline

March 2017 - Community is selected and applicants are notified

April, 2017 - Community Engagement Committee is formed; monthly Community Engagement meetings begin

Fall, 2017 - BSO In Residence program activities begin in the partner community

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