By Mark G. McLaughlin

Boston has a young and vibrant art scene, with many stages, galleries and other venues where local artists can perform, hone and show off their talent. There are clubs with open mic nights and poetry nights, spaces which double not only as studios but also as galleries, and movie theaters where local film makers can find an audience, and more. Here are just five of the best places to see and support Boston’s local artists.

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169 Norfolk Ave.
Boston, MA 02119
(617) 329-1937

With 11 private studios and over 1,000 square feet of gallery space, Casblanc is a renovated mill in the Newmarket district that offers local artists a place to work and show and even sell their creations. A gathering place for local artists of many genres, schools and styles, Casablanc is a haven for sculptors, painters, fashion designers, musicians and others artists who are creating a unique Boston style of art. A place where creativity meets commerce, it is a setting that helps bring the artist to the public, and where their art can not only be seen and appreciated but also purchased – because artists, after all, have to make a living if they are to keep making art

American Repertory Theater
Loeb Drama Center
64 Brattle St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-8300

The American Repertory Theater (or simply A.R.T.) is a Harvard Extension school that has two stages, one at the Loeb Drama Center and the other at the Oberon on Arrow Street. It encourages, supports and provides a place where local artists from beat poets to hula-hoop burlesque dancers and from tap dance to human statues can work and be seen. Often referred to as an “incubator” for the local art scene, it offers master classes for theater artists and hosts stage productions of classic, contemporary, indie and unique plays. It also has a children’s “kid’s company” to encourage and train the youngest of Boston’s up-and-coming young artists.

The Paradise
967 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 562-8800

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There are many bars and other small venues where local musicians both individually and in bands can be heard, but The Paradise is the place where these artists have an opportunity to reach a large audience. Situated right next to Boston University on Commonwealth Ave, it has a ready man fan base for local groups to tap and try out their sets, and has been the launchpad for many Boston area bands. The Paradise also brings bands and performers from all of the country and the world to Boston, like Dermot Kennedy, Rhye, of Mice and Men and dozens of others scheduled to perform on its stage this spring alone. The Paradise is not fancy, and is priced to attract students and young adults, with tickets under $20 for many performances. The bigger the name of the artist, of course, the greater the price, but for fans of up-and-coming performers and bands in the indie music scene, The Paradise rocks.

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Somerville Theater
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 625-5700

“Movies and bad art” is the ongoing theme at this neo-classical art deco movie theater and art gallery in Somerville. It’s giant 70 mm screen shows both contemporary and classic films, and in a setting that brings back the glory days of a night at the movies. There are also smaller 35mm theaters inside, but down below the theater, however, is the real treat for local art fans – the “bad art” gallery where local artists can show off, well,”bad” art. Entrance to the “Museum of Bad Art” is included with the purchase of a movie ticket. The theater is also home to the annual Independent Film Festival Boston, where local film makers are invited to show off their talents to a very open-minded public, as it has been doing since 1914.

Cantab Lounge
738 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 354-2685

Almost every night there are local bluegrass, jazz, funk, soul, classic rock or folk artists on the little stage at the Cantab on Mass Ave,Cambridge’s Central Square. Every Wednesday night is Boston Poetry Slam night, and this is not just where local poets come one night a week to share their musings, but also where judged poetry competitions – with prizes – are routinely held. There are also open mic nights where comedians, musicians and just about anybody who wants to get up on stage can have their 15 minutes in the spotlight. The club seats 75 with room for another 25 to stand about, so that makes for a cozy and intimate atmosphere, as befits a place which has been named among the top 50 Small Music Venues in the outcry.

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