Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and Tourism, Sports and Entertainment announced Thursday that the City of Boston will begin its first season of community arts and cultural programs at City Hall Plaza, beginning with Boston’s City Pride launch on June 1.
“The renovation of City Hall Plaza has transformed it into a welcoming, accessible urban space for all, and we are very excited to launch a new series of programs, starting with a celebration of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community. We can’t wait for residents and visitors to gather together at the Plaza and experience the space in a fun new way,” said Wu.
For this season of programming, the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is partnering with the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Progress to support several events dedicated to Boston’s LGBTQ+ community, including:
Boston City Pride Commencement – June 1, 2023 from 4-7 pm
An unveiling will take place during National LGBTQ+ Pride Month celebrations portraits Pride, a photography project featuring LGBTQ+ leaders that will remain at the Plaza throughout June. The event will also feature a flag raising and several performances including Big Body Kweeng, Neon Calypso, Patty Bourrée and more!
Boston Urban Pride Music and Arts Festival – July 2, 2023 from 11:00 to 18:00
This event is organized by the Boston Lesbigay Urban Foundation in partnership with
Diggity Dom is a showcase for local emerging QTBIPOC artists as they enter the Boston music scene. Hosted by Amanda Shea, the festival will feature performances, various LGBTQ+ providers, and several resource tables for community members.
BBG Festival – July 8, 2023 from 12-22
The inaugural BBG Fest produced by Beats by Girlz Boston will bring together girls, women and people of all genders in a celebration of live music and the arts, with a mission to address the systems of inequality in the music industry through education, networking, performance, opportunity and community. BBG Fest aims to uplift the amazing and underrepresented performers in our city with a diverse and unique lineup including Brandie Blaze, Bad Snacks and Mint Green. BBG Fest will also partner with the Boston Women’s Market to create a space for local creators and artists of all kinds to showcase their work. This free, one-day event is open to the public and welcomes all ages in Greater Boston.
In addition to the above programme, City Hall Plaza will host the following events:
D&D Beer Garden at Town Hall Square
Opening on June 7, the new D&D Beer Garden is a partnership between two Boston-born and Boston-owned breweries, Distraction Brewing of Roslindale and Democracy Brewing of Downtown Crossing. More details will be announced in the coming days.
This annual summer disco in honor of five-time Grammy winner and Boston native Donna Summer returns to City Hall Plaza with an ice rink on June 16. O’Mega Red will perform her hit “Angel” featuring Donna Summer and there will be a special tribute to Mary Gaines Bernard, Donna Summer’s sister and longtime backing vocalist. This family event is free and open to the public and will run from 6-9pm
Open Your Heart: Immigrant Stories and Music from Boston and Beyond
This live event, which will take place on June 30 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, will feature stories about several youths traveling as immigrants or children of immigrants who came to the United States and eventually ended up in East Boston. The event is produced by Hoopla Productions in partnership with the non-profit youth organization ZUMIX.
5 days of chessa series of four free chess workshops hosted by JP Chess on July 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, followed by a chess tournament on August 6.
A series of summer dance events (More details coming soon)
This annual family-friendly series of events will cover a variety of music genres, including Salsa on July 20, R&B on August 10, Country Line Dancing on August 24, Afro Beats on September 14 and House Music on September 22. from 17:00 to 20:00 in the main square.
Activating the Arts: A Movement for Social Change (More details coming soon)
Activating Art is a series hosted by Boston Music Award winner Amanda Shea that focuses on art as a tool for social change. Some of the themes throughout the series will be about reproductive justice, free speech, compensation, and more. They will also choose a local non-profit organization to honor and highlight at each session. Sessions will take place on August 17, 24, 31 and September 7 from 5-8 pm and on September 10 from 12-6 pm
The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture invested a total of $136,700 in events at City Hall Square as part of funding for the U.S. Rescue Plan Act. Additional programs will be added in the coming months.
“Having a variety of new performance and meeting spaces at the Plaza opens up so many opportunities for innovative arts and cultural programming, and we are very grateful to have our City Hall Plaza Engagement Manager Billy Dean Thomas on board to guide us in curating this programming,” said the head of arts and culture Kara Elliott-Ortega. “We’re thrilled to help bring these events to the Plaza and look forward to continuing to support artists, creators and cultural organizations as they bring their work downtown.”
“The activation of City Hall Plaza this summer is an amazing opportunity to bring residents, families and visitors together. We want everyone to take advantage of all that Boston has to offer as we support our organizations from so many different communities,” said John Borders IV, Director of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment. “As we approach the start of summer, we are excited to create a space for people of all ages across the city and region to come together and be together.”
City Hall Plaza reopened to the public last fall following a refurbishment that transformed it into a civic space for all residents, with widespread accessibility, new communal spaces, increased environmental sustainability, and critical infrastructure improvements that will keep the plaza safe and accessible for generations to come. The renovation included the creation of seven new plug-and-play locations for use by community groups, with room for 10,000 to 12,0000 visitors in the main plaza and room for 20,000 to 25,000 people congregating around the plaza. The new project also includes three smaller venues for events and meetings, and a new civic building on Congress Street featuring a bathroom and other amenities to support public gatherings.
Last year, the city of Boston launched a call for public art artists to complement the renovation of City Hall Plaza. The invitation presents two separate possibilities. The first was a short-term artwork for the north entrance to the building. The second involved a graphic display outside the town hall. These commissions are envisaged as the first in a series of artworks for this site that will recognize and celebrate the stories of Boston and City Hall Plaza.
The city chose Rhea Vedro to create a short-term artwork that will be a sculptural installation in the north entrance garden patch. Yuke Li was commissioned to create 2D artwork for the new display system on the city hall’s west exterior wall and wall panels near the new city pavilion. The graphics have been installed and the sculpture is due to be erected later this year.
To find out more about upcoming events on the Town Hall Square and how to organize events on the Square, visit the website boston.gov/cityhallplaza.