After a one-year hiatus, the Outside the Box Festival is back in Boston.
The free-to-all performing arts bonanza, expected to draw hundreds of thousands over six, kicked off on Boston Common Tuesday night with an eclectic bundle of acts. Sharing a stage were a crew of local dancers, the Boston Circus Guild, the Puppeteers Cooperative and the steampunk jazz outfit Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band.
The ambitious lineup, more than 100 acts deep, is part of the vision of millionaire and patron-of-the-arts Ted Cutler, who launched the festival two years ago with the goal of exposing Boston, particularly the city’s low-income youth, to performance.
“We have the ability to speak to everybody in the city of Boston,” Cutler told Metro. “A lot of these people can’t afford to go to a ball game or a theater and stuff like that. They deserve it like everybody else does. That’s why I want to do it.”
The festival is leaner this year than it was for its 2013 debut, a rollout that took place in both the Common and City Hall Plaza, cost about $6 million and came amid resignations and reported infighting.
This year’s reboot is expected to cost a third as much, and local acts make up the bulk of the schedule.
“We have a bit more of a streamlined purpose,” said Georgia Lyman, artistic director.
“This has always been a celebration of the Boston performing arts community,” she said. “We have music, we have theater, we have dance, we have spectacle. It’s really a cross-section of the performing arts that make Boston such a vibrant arts city.”
Organizers last-minute resolved a hiccup involving 60-member Turkish dance group Fire of Anatolia after the company could not make it out, according to Cutler. A group of local replacements were tapped to fill the role.
“These things happen. That’s showbusiness,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference. We’ve got enough entertainment for a month, believe me.”