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The BAMS Experience

Entrepreneur Catherine Morris ’16MS aims to break down barriers through arts and culture.

As the founder and executive director of the Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest, Inc., Boston native Catherine Morris ’16MS works to help marginalized and underserved communities of color in Greater Boston break down racial and social barriers to arts, music and culture. Not only does BAMS Fest present live art and music performances, it offers educational programs to benefit underserved communities throughout the year. 

Photographs, from left: BAMS Fest Founder Catherine Morris ’16, at right, receiving a resolution from Representative Chynah Tyler at BAMS Festival 2018; Valerie Stephens performing at BAMS Festival 2018; hip-hop artist and poet, Oompa (Photographs by Jourdan Christopher and Tory Quinn).

“BAMS Fest educates through entertainment,” Morris says, “with events like ‘Need I Paint More?’, which uses live painting to discuss social justice issues.”

Morris founded BAMS Fest as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2015 after creating a business plan in a Simmons graduate class, which allowed her to see the bigger picture and its projection. Morris’ ultimate goal is to “redefine the arts and culture ecosystem by being intentional through its collaboration with artists of color, and to build an artist-centric city for residents and visitors to experience.”

The first annual BAMS Festival in 2018 was hugely successful, bringing in 2,000 attendees, 21 local bands, and five visual artists, establishing Morris as a trailblazer. The 2019 BAMS Festival is already in the works, with “19 acts and two new features: free dance lessons and a family friendly BYOG (Bring Your Own Game) area for the community to share and connect with each other,” according to Morris.