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Outside the Box Bringing Arts, Innovation to Boston

Performers float above Boston Common during Outside the Box 2015. Photo/Outside the Box

Grammy-nominated Daughtry and ’90s pop giant Smashmouth will headline this year’s Outside the Box performing arts festival, a free annual summer event started by Emerson College alumnus and Trustee emeritus Ted Cutler ’51.

This year’s five-day Outside the Box, running July 13–17, will bring more than 100 bands, dancers, acting companies, performance artists, entrepreneurs and innovators, and arts organizations to nine venues in and around Boston Common, including Emerson’s Paramount Theatre.

Cutler, a former music agent and travel/tourism executive and longtime philanthropist, decided in 2007 that Boston needed a summer arts festival.

Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents at Outside the Box 2105. Photo/Outside the Box

“There are a lot of people from our area who just don’t go to the [arts] institutions or know what is being created and presented in our city,” Cutler said in a Q&A on the Outside the Box website. “They’ve never stepped inside a theater but would engage if we can take the performances to them.

“Also, there are those from outside Boston who don’t think of us as a destination for the arts,” he continued. “We used to be the testing ground for shows before they went to Broadway. We used to be the place where musicians came because we have great audiences. I know this because I used to work as a conductor and booked musical acts, and we need to claim that again for Boston and the state of Massachusetts.”

Outside the Box launched in 2011.

Icarus at Outside the Box 2015. Photo/Outside the Box

Emerson College will present The Hairy Scary: A Musical Swamp Odyssey, with book and lyrics by Writing, Literature, and Publishing Associate Professor Jabari Asim and Liana Asim, and music by Joshua Stephen Kartes. The Hairy Scary will be in the Tremont Tent Sunday, July 17, 12:00-1:30 pm. 

This year, the festival opens on Wednesday, July 13, 12:45 pm, at the Paramount, with two talks that explore Boston’s role as an innovation hub: “CAPX: Reimagining Perspectives—Identifying Gaps that Revolutionize Industries,” presented by Capital One, and “Anchoring Boston: Exploring the Future of Innovation with Companies Headquartered in Boston.” The Paramount will host a number of TED-like talks throughout the afternoon.

The OTB Opening Ceremony will take place from 4:00 to 8:00 pm at the Capital One Stage, followed by a Capital One Launch Party at the Revere Hotel.

Performances start at noon on Thursday, July 14, with family-friendly shows by Alex the Jester, Jenna Lotti, Cheung Family Kung Fu, and Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys on various stages, with MFA-Boston, Knucklebones, and Evan Northrup playing On the Common.

Smashmouth takes the Capital One Stage on Thursday, July 14, 7:30 pm, and Daughtry performs on Friday, July 15, 7:30 pm.

WERS 88.9 FM, Emerson’s award–winning radio station, will run a 60-second spot promoting its status as “Boston’s Discovery Station,” and student staffers will introduce bands at the Fountain Stage, Beau Raines, WERS director of product development, said. He also said to watch out for WERS giveaways throughout the festival.

For complete descriptions and schedules of performances/talks, go to

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