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Ted Cutler Thinks (And Funds) ‘Outside The Box’ With Free Summer Festival

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

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

BOSTON — BOSTON — It’s been five years in the making, according to Ted Cutler. He’s the driving force behind the new performing arts pow-wow known as Outside The Box.

Cutler, a long-time Boston arts philanthropist (and namesake of the Cutler Majestic Theater), said he was ready to pull the trigger on this ambitious concept back in 2008. Instead organizers were forced to pull the plug because the economy tanked.

“Art institutions really needed time to hold themselves together,” Cutler recalled. “But now is the time. They’re back and on their two feet and ready to go. And we’re ready to bring this to the public.”

According to Cutler more than 100 performing arts institutions have signed up to participate in Outside The Box. The free, public performances will take place on Boston Common, City Hall Plaza and at Copley Square. The eight-day event runs from July 13 to July 20 and will take place on nine stages in three outdoor venues. Genres include everything from music to dance to theater to the culinary arts.

“Chefs are some of the most popular, most exciting performers today,” Cutler explained.

Art institutions are back and on their two feet and ready to go. And we’re ready to bring this to the public.
– Ted Cutler

The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge is onboard, along with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Boston Dance Alliance. But there are also a slew of smaller Massachusetts-based groups, according to Cutler.

“There is such talent that has not been recognized,” he said passionately, “It’s time to bring them to the forefront. And that’s where I am.”

Cutler, 82, describes himself as a “Dorchester Boy” and is a proud alum of Emerson College. He earned his fortune in the Las Vegas hotel business, and has been supporting Boston’s hospitals, non-profits such as the Greater Boston Food Bank, and arts organizations for decades.

“Performing arts have been set aside,” he believes, “And really the performing arts need a boost right now. Boston is a major city, and Boston and the state do have the talent and the ability to bring this type of thing to the public.”

Cutler’s vision for Outside The Box is ambitious. He calls it a “take off” on Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is footing much of the bill himself. Outside The Box’s budget is “robust,” Cutler admitted. Well over $1 million.

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