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Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston Inc

 15 Channel Center Street, Suite 103
 Boston, MA 02210
[P] (617) 350-7600
[F] (888) 412-7610
James Grace
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 22-3217131

LAST UPDATED: 12/07/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Mass, Inc. (2008)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes



Mission StatementMORE »

The mission of the Arts & Business Council is to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the artists and cultural organizations within Massachusetts.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Arts & Business Council is to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the artists and cultural organizations within Massachusetts.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2018 to June 30, 2019
Projected Income $475,040.00
Projected Expense $467,997.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Business on Board
  • Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Legal Services

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The mission of the Arts & Business Council is to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the artists and cultural organizations within Massachusetts.

Background Statement

Why We Matter
In Boston there are more arts and cultural organizations per capita than in any other metropolitan area in the country; with over 600 arts organizations and thousands of visual artists and independent musicians. Therefore, our work is vital to sustaining and growing this very important sector of our economy, and the communities where these artists live and work.
Our History
In 2000, a small group of Boston business leaders established the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston to create opportunities for professional and creative development for artists and arts organizations as a means to bolster Boston’s economic health as a whole. A&BC became the 15th affiliate in the nationwide network of Arts & Business Councils. In 2005, the national office merged with Americans for the Arts, a public sector advocacy organization.

In 2008, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston merged with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts (VLA), an organization originally formed in 1989 by a dedicated team of lawyers, law firms, state and local government agencies, and legal foundations with the goal of providing free and reduced-fee legal services for the local arts community. Since it was founded, the VLA has assisted, educated and advised over 4,000 artists, providing over $20 million dollars worth of pro bono legal services to the arts community.

The merger between the A&BC and the VLA in 2008 and our subsequent merger with Fort Point Cultural Commission in 2016 has helped strengthen the Council. This growth has increased our effectiveness, efficiency, and long-term viability and enabled us to develop programs that further strengthen the arts community. 

Impact Statement

FY2016 Accomplishments

1. We offered over 40 workshops and webinars to artists and creative entrepreneurs, with topics ranging from artist rights and contracts to verbal branding and online marketing.

2. Our Volunteer Lawyers for the Art program managed 84 case referrals and assisted approximately 250 artists and art organizations, delivering $1 million in pro bono legal services and fielding over 750 phone calls requesting legal advice.

3. Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts launched the Patent Pro Bono Program of New England, serving 5 states to assist financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses.

4. Our fellowships, The Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship and Walter Feldman Fellowship for Emerging Artists, are designed to help new and established artists in the Massachusetts community gain the business skills that are necessary for success in a career in the arts.

5. The A&BC’s volunteerism program for executives, Business on Board, graduated over 200 local leaders from our board service training, many of whom now serve on local nonprofit boards.

6. Our free online platform, SpaceFinder Mass, has facilitated over 400 space listings to connect artists to creative spaces for living working, and performing, thanks to a partnership with Massachusetts Cultural Council and Fractured Atlas.

7. A&BC’s newer programs include The Creative Campus and The Open Studios Initiative to strengthen local artists, businesses, and the Massachusetts community as a whole.

8. Our Fiscal Sponsorship supports organizations such as Butterfly Music Transgender Chorus, Art in the Park Worcester, and Battle of the Biotech Bands.

9. The Corporate Art Lending program seeks to forge greater connections among business and arts communities by bringing original artwork by local artists into Boston’s workplaces.

Needs Statement

 1. Internal major gift and fundraising support to help raise the funds needed to meet the current needs of the arts community and to bring our programs to scale.

2. Recruit and onboard diverse members of a new Leadership Council.

CEO Statement

Massachusetts is fortunate to possess a rich and diverse cultural fabric. This fabric strengthens our communities, improves our schools, enriches our citizens, and provides a strong economic engine. The mission of the Arts & Business Council is to strengthen this vibrant arts community by providing a platform of quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the artists and cultural organizations within Massachusetts. These programs include pro-bono legal assistance, business partnerships, professional development training for artists and arts organizations, additional shared services to arts organizations, board development, and advocacy.

Our vision remains to continually broaden and deepen our impact. We now serve artists with our Creative Entrepreneur and Walter Feldman Fellowship Programs, which engage artists of color and emerging artists respectively. We connect private companies to the arts through our Business on Board and Art Lending Programs. Other programs include Fiscal Sponsorship, Invaluable, a platform for selling artists' work online, SpaceFinder, a portal for finding spaces for creative projects, and Creative Campus, a new program that aims to develop affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations in the Greater Boston region.

The legal services we provide through our Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts & Patent Probono Program cater to artists, arts organizations and the wider creative sector, empowering them with the knowledge and tdirect assistance they need to flourish. ‬As part of our offerings to the business sector, our Art Lending program has placed works of art created by local artists on the walls of corporations and that shares program revenue with artists. We also continued to educate the leaders in the corporate sector about board service, graduating over 300 executives from our Business on Board training. Subsequently, a significant number of the executives seek out not-for-profit boards of arts organizations that are meaningful to them.

We now share a collaborative workspace with three other arts service organizations, MassCreative, Mass Poetry, and Stage Source, at Midway Studios. We believe that our programs and services help to fortify a vibrant creative economy, and we look forward to growing and sustaining our service to the community.
James F. Grace,
Executive Director

Board Chair Statement

I have served on the board of the Arts & Business Council since 2014 and recently was appointed as the Board Chair in 2016.  Throughout my time on the Board, I have witnessed the A&BC serve thousands of artists and hundreds of arts organizations through education and direct services. As a graduate of the organization's Business on Board program, I have experienced firsthand the ways in which the A&BC leverages partnerships among the arts, business, and legal sectors of Greater Boston in support of the arts.

Our annual fundraiser, Martinis & Masterpieces, is our annual event where we showcase our appreciation of those partnerships and investments. Each spring this event attracts over 300 guests who join us to celebrate our thriving creative economy and recognize those business and legal professionals who work to strengthen it. Awards are given to lawyers for their pro-bono achievements and dedication, as well as champions of the arts in Greater Boston, whose provide lasting contributions to the creative economy.

I am proud to work with a strong Board and dedicated staff in an effort to strengthen the arts. As we continue to add new programs that address the needs of artists and organizations, I look forward to applying my own skills, expertise, and passions to this worthy cause.

Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston for our business programs, Massachusetts for our educational and legal programs, and our SpaceFinder web platform is accessible to artists across the New England region.

Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Arts Services
  2. -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Business on Board

Business on Board provides professional development training and resources for businesses and professionals, focusing on corporate citizenship and board development services for arts organizations. We also offer consulting services for not for profit organizations looking to strengthen their organization through seminars, matching organizations with business volunteers, and training for board best practices.

Since 2003, more than 500 business and legal professionals have graduated our training programs, and hundreds of them have gone on to serve on non-profit boards.
Budget  $62,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Artists' Services
Population Served Adults General/Unspecified General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 
Graduates of Business on Board are more aware of:
  • Philanthropy, its history and future
  • Board governance and dynamics
  • Legal and fiduciary responsibilities
  • Fund raising and development strategies
  • How to market and promote the organization
  • Strategic planning for long term growth and stability
Program Long-Term Success  The Business on Board (BOB) program is customized for individuals or
businesses looking to build on core leadership skills and expand on
professional development opportunities while using their talent to help
organizations in need. As a result, hundreds of executives will become more interested and engaged in local non-profits and proceed to serve on non-profits boards as invested, engaged, and informed volunteers.
Program Success Monitored By  Our Board of Directors, many of whom are graduates of this program.
Examples of Program Success 

As the bridge between business and not for profit organizations, the A&BC is uniquely qualified to conduct the Business On Board program. Our speakers are experts in their fields and deliver engaging, interesting sessions whether you are new to board service or a seasoned board member. Those participants who attend the program and are currently serving on a board find that the sessions elevate their knowledge. For those who are ready to begin board service, we help to place them on board whenever possible.

Though our BOB program, we have trained over 500 and placed over 300 business executives on not for profit boards in the greater Boston area.
Participating Boston-area companies and institutions include Bank of America, Boston College Carroll School of Management, Citizens Bank, State Street Corporation, Forrester Research, Fidelity Investments,
The Boston Globe, Investors Bank and Trust Company, Tufts Health Plan, Staples, Goodwin Procter, Mintz Levin, and many others. 

Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship

Our Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship (CEF) is designed to create career momentum for a diverse group of 7-10 artists and creative solopreneurs. This competitive program includes personalized goal setting, one-on-one coaching, skills-training seminars, a stipend, and an opportunity to showcase work at a capstone event.
Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Artists' Services
Population Served Adults
Program Short-Term Success 
Graduates of this program are able to think of themselves as business persons and entrepreneurs. They leave with confidence and are educated on and competent in numerous professional topic areas, including:
  • Clarified career goals
  • Marketing strategies, including positioning, branding, and marketing plan development
  • Writing artist statements, bios, press releases and media pitches
  • Effective networking and "verbal branding"
  • Effective negotiation
  • Copyright infringement, contracts, and real estate issues
  • Financial planning, and tax and estate planning
  • Time management
Program Long-Term Success  As artists apply the tools and core competencies gained over the course of the program as well as throughout our continuing education programs designed for graduates and the peer groups they have formed, their art careers are more sustainable, supported, and lucrative. Our artists learn how to meet their own measures of success.
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success 

Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Legal Services

Provides pro bono and reduced cost legal services, advice and education programming to artists and cultural organizations in Massachusetts. We deliver this program through the contributions of a panel of more than 400 volunteer attorneys that are able to meet the unique legal needs for artists in a wide variety of areas as well as in-house assistance provided by our staff attorney and our law school interns.
Budget  $92,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Artists' Services
Population Served Adults Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent Adults
Program Short-Term Success 

The short-term success of the VLA can be measured through its efficient and leveraged process of providing ongoing dedicated legal services and pro-active educational programs within Massachusetts.  Over the last year, the VLA has received over 1,500 phone calls from artists and arts organizations seeking assistance.  From these consultations, the VLA has referred over 200 cases to its pro bono attorney panel, and in-house has taken over 150 cases.  In total, the VLA program, with a budget of less than $100,000 has provided over 1.7 million in pro bono legal services and educational programs.


Additionally, the VLA seeks to empower artists through professional development programs.  Many of the issues encountered through direct legal services can be avoided, or the severity minimized, if artists are better informed about their rights and responsibilities.  

This combination of services and programs represents the VLA’s goal of a sustainable and holistic approach to the arts services.



Program Long-Term Success 

The mission of the VLA is to provide much needed pro bono direct legal and educational services to Massachusetts artists and the arts/cultural community that could not otherwise afford these services.  We provide these services to artists and arts organizations from all creative backgrounds on a wide range of legal issues, including copyright, trademark, contracts, First Amendment, landlord and tenant, live/work.  The VLA is the only program in Massachusetts designed to meet these needs. These legal problems can overwhelm the small to mid-size arts organization, or struggling artist.

For the last 30 years, the VLA has been comprised of a passionate and dedicated group of staff, volunteer lawyers, interns, supporters, funders, and board members. We have been honored to be apart of and a service to a rich cultural and economic fabric of our state.


Program Success Monitored By 


The VLA operates 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, 52 weeks a year.  The ability to speak to an experienced staff member directly is one of the most valuable and differentiating factors of our services.



Over the last 30 years of providing legal services, the VLA has developed an effective model.  Client intake involves a written application followed by a telephone interview by our trained and dedicated staff.  The application requires a client to describe the legal issues.  After an assessment of the legal matter, the staff determines whether the matter should be handled in-house or referred to our panel of pro-bono volunteer attorneys.

Additionally, our Director of Legal Services monitors the VLA’s success through questionnaires provided to clients and attorneys. This allows the clients to evaluate the services received and allows attorneys to assess the experience and describe the substantive work performed.


Examples of Program Success 

Since 1989, we have assisted over 4,000 artists, provided over $20 million dollars worth of pro bono legal services to the arts community, and conducted over 500 arts related workshops. The VLA program has also provided services to support the creative economy through large advocacy efforts. For example, the VLA helped reopen Boston’s streets to art performers. Due to a landmark Federal Court decision that repealed a number of city laws prohibiting public performances. An example of the VLA taking on larger litigation matters that affect large numbers of artists is the 2003 case of the bankruptcy of Boston Corporate Art. This case ensnared over 250 artists and one thousand pieces of consigned artwork. The VLA reunited over 70% of the pieces with the 200 artists.  After this experience, the VLA helped update legislation to protect consigned art from gallery creditors in the event of bankruptcy in future case.


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Mr. James F Grace Esq.
CEO Term Start July 1998
CEO Email
CEO Experience Jim Grace is the Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of Massachusetts (VLA) from 1998 until 2008, when it merged with the A&BC.  Jim has experience working with artists and arts organizations in the areas of publishing law, public art, copyright, trademark, nonprofit incorporation and mergers, negotiation training, and artist live/work and nonprofit board issues.  Jim was an adjunct professor for Boston University’s Masters in Arts Administration Program for over five years where he co-taught a course on Legal Issues in Arts Administration.  In addition, Jim is a working author, book editor, and publishing attorney.  He is the co-author of best selling The Worst Case Scenario Handbook: Golf. To date he has been involved in the publication of over eight books. Jim serves on the board of Associated Grant Makers and is a founding member of the Arts Services Coalition, as well as a former founding board member of the Fort Point Cultural Coalition.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Ms Celeste Wilson Jan 1999 May 2010

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
David Holland Associate Director --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
Americans for the Arts --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

One of the challenges facing our organization is the ability to continue to meet the ever growing needs within the artistic and cultural communities. We have seen the need for our shared services including the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and our Human Resources program grow, as organizations continue to be stressed during these challenging economic times. Another challenge is that in difficult economic times limited dollars go to direct artistic programming and not to services that support a sector, such as our platform of services.  This is a challenge even though every dollar contributed to the Arts and Business Council translates to 10 dollars in direct services and programs to artists, arts organizations and cultural institutions within Massachusetts. For the past 25 year we have remained a highly leveraged investment within the larger sector. 

Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 3
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 50%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 3
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 2
Male: 1
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr. Sean Newth
Board Chair Company Affiliation State Street Corporation
Board Chair Term June 2016 - June 2018
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Ms. Michèle Berg MCG Partners Voting
Mr. Jim Buza Director-Advice and Guidance Solutions Voting
Ms Kristin D'Ambrosio Partner, PwC Voting
Ms. Michelle DuBois Winston Art Group Voting
Mr. Alex Gavis Esq. Fidelity --
Ms. Pamela Jones Zoo New England --
Ms Joanne Kaliontzis Art Director, Studio51 Design Voting
Mr. Joshua Miller Esq. Vice President, BNY Mellon Wealth Management Voting
Ms. Marisa Murtagh Esq. Vice President and Counsel, Global Treasury State Street Corporation Voting
Mr. Sean Newth Chief Accounting Officer & Controller, State Street Corporation Voting
Mr. Glenn Pudelka Esq. Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP Voting
Ms. Dayla Arabella Santurri Dayla Arabella Inc. Voting
Ms. Cheryl Tougias Partner, Spalding Tougias Architects, Inc. Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 11
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 8
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 50%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Governance and Nominating

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

We've always been fortunate to have a wonderful group of board members from the legal, arts and business communities that advise and support us, and help us to deliver our programming.

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2018 to June 30, 2019
Projected Income $475,040.00
Projected Expense $467,997.00
Form 990s

2017 900

2016 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

Audit Documents

2017 Audit

2016 Audit

2015 Audit

2014 Review

2013 Review

2012 Review

2011 Review

2010 Review

2009 Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $1,128,753 $1,761,277 $1,222,177
Total Expenses $1,083,434 $1,287,450 $1,292,653

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $148,687 $256,041 $321,263
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $207,652 $226,018 $202,563
Investment Income, Net of Losses $4,174 $-4,192 $14,047
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $48,018 $35,861 $49,884
Revenue In-Kind $712,179 $765,750 $634,420
Other $8,043 $481,799 --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $867,357 $1,108,546 $1,112,092
Administration Expense $139,057 $127,064 $109,730
Fundraising Expense $77,020 $51,840 $70,831
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.04 1.37 0.95
Program Expense/Total Expenses 80% 86% 86%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 39% 18% 19%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $2,659,641 $1,455,993 $976,170
Current Assets $268,011 $405,971 $255,025
Long-Term Liabilities $1,149,625 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $64,818 $56,114 $50,118
Total Net Assets $1,445,198 $1,399,879 $926,052

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 5.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 4.13 7.23 5.09

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 43% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The A&BC strives to be fiscally responsible and conservative with respect to our funds.  We build programs that are financially sustainable through diverse sources of income, including earned income (50-55%), board contributions, tuition, application fees, annual appeals. We have a solid reserve and have no cash flow issues with regard to ongoing operations. Our next challenge and financial goal is to raise the funds necessary to invest in additional internal fundraising capacity that will allow us to grow our programs to scale to meet the current needs of the arts community.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's audited financials.  Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.
Please note, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston completed its merger with the Fort Point Cultural Coalition Inc. in 2016. As such, the FY16 Other revenue category above includes a related merger contribution. Please refer to Note 7 of the FY16 for additional detail.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

We will continue building new and current programs and to look for new ways to innovate and meet the needs of both artist individuals and organizations. This includes investing in our Creative Campus program to continue preserving valuable creatives spaces throughout Massachusetts.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?