Summer In The City: New Arts Festival

Outside the Box managing director Kevin T. Carlon, artistic director Sherrie Johnson and founder Ted Cutler (Bill Brett)
Outside the Box managing director Kevin T. Carlon, artistic director Sherrie Johnson and founder Ted Cutler (Bill Brett)

The city will get its own 10-day arts festival, from July 12-21. It's Outside the Box, founded by arts patron Ted Cutler. Boston Common will be the central location, but there’ll also be events at the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, Copley Square and along the Emerald Necklace.

Artistic director Sherrie Johnson, curator of other arts festivals, told WBUR that the focus of this year’s festival is on the Boston area but will eventually include New England and beyond.

“When we say multi-arts, it’s every artform — dance, theater, magic, cirucus arts, mural painting, street art, however you define yourself as an artist,” said Johnson, who hopes to give us a sneak peek in November and half the festival set to go by Christmas.

Here’s the announcement:

Sept. 20, 2012, Boston, Mass. – Arts patron and civic leader Ted Cutler today formally announced the creation of Outside The Box, a 10-day citywide multi-arts festival in Boston that will include multiple performance stages on Boston Common and other public spaces. The inaugural Outside The Box festival will run from July 12-21, 2013.

“Boston and Massachusetts deserve to be thought of internationally as a performing arts city and state. Boston’s cultural institutions and the artists working out there are creating great things,” said Cutler, chairman and founder of Outside The Box. “Our region is already known for its universities, hospitals, and for its history among other things. It’s my hope that we add the arts to what people think of when they think of Boston.”

“One of the objectives of Outside The Box is to highlight local and regional artists and give them new audiences,” Cutler said. Another objective is to allow the public see the arts, music, drama, and dance without any cost. Thus, most of the Festival’s performances and offerings will be free and open to the public. Cutler and his team have been working with city and state officials to enliven and animate the city’s open spaces for the inaugural Outside The Box. By working together, the summer tourism season should be significantly enhanced during this immense event.

Cutler began working several years ago to bring his dream of creating a citywide festival for his hometown. The City of Boston, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and the law firm of Prince Lobel are among the founding organizations working with Outside The Box.

Cutler has hired Sherrie Johnson, a veteran curator of performing arts festivals, to serve as Artistic Director of Outside The Box. Johnson comes to Boston after working for several years at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver, Canada, where was instrumental in the growth and development of the PuSh festival. She began working on Outside The Box in the summer and lives in downtown Boston with her family.

“Great arts festivals build community. Ted Cutler is a great visionary and civic leader. Ted has changed the landscape of Boston and left a lasting impact on this city,” said Johnson. “It's an honor to work alongside Ted in defining and building his life-long dream of giving Boston an annual citywide arts festival.”

In addition to Johnson, Cutler has hired Managing Director Kevin T. Carlon, who has 25 years of experience in sports, events, and entertainment industries, to lead the senior management team of the non-profit festival. A Pittsfield native who holds degrees from Tufts University and University of Massachusetts Amherst, Carlon comes to Outside The Box from leadership roles in Major League Baseball, the US Olympics, and the Performing Arts industry. The Outside The Box leadership team also includes theatre producer and playwright Randy Weiner as senior curator, and veteran Boston writer and editor Carol Beggy will handle media relations.

The Outside The Box team also has been meeting with arts organizations and artists and is coordinating with public officials to host a series of town hall meetings to give the artistic communities a better sense of how to participate. The Festival has issued an open invitation for artists and area groups to contact Johnson about participating in Outside The Box.

Boston’s performing arts community is already responding to the call. “The vision of this festival is a thrilling opportunity for the Greater Boston and New England theatre community I love that individual artists and companies of varying sizes will have the opportunity to be part of a large scale event, in different venues, reaching new audiences,” said Julie Hennrikus, Executive Director of StageSource, the Greater Boston Theatre Alliance. “In our conversations, Ted Cutler always talks about supporting the artist, and that speaks to what we do here at StageSource.”

The Festival will have a “sneak peek” announcement of performers in November 2012 and the full lineup will be announced in March 2013.


One of Boston’s most philanthropic citizens, Ted Cutler has left his imprint on Boston, his hometown. A Dorchester native who now lives in the Back Bay, Ted is an alumnus of Emerson College where he is a Trustee and former Chairman of the Board. There are many projects in the city that stand as testament to the vision and support of Ted Cutler and his late wife, Joan. Among those projects are the restored 1,200-seat Cutler Majestic Theatre, the new home of the Greater Boston Food Bank that looms over the

Southeast Expressway, the annual holiday lighting of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in the Back Bay, and the ongoing rebuilding of Emerson College’s campus.

Outside The Box, a not-for-profit (501c3) organization, is an annual, citywide, 10-day, multi-arts festival based in Boston. The inaugural Festival will be held from July 12-21, 2013. Outside The Box will reflect New England’s personality and shine a spotlight on Boston’s outdoor public spaces, established institutions and independent voices. As envisioned by Boston philanthropist Ted Cutler, Outside The Box will be accessible to all. For more information on the Festival and how to contact the staff or get involved, go to

This program aired on September 20, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Ed Siegel

Ed Siegel Critic-At-Large
Ed Siegel is critic-at-large for WBUR.



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