Town of Medfield votes to double arts investment
Josh Perry/Hometown Weekly
As chair of the Medfield Cultural Council, when Jean Mineo learned last year that other local cultural councils had secured municipal funding to supplement their state grants, she knew immediately she had to try the same thing.
“If other places were doing it, I figured we had a chance to try to make it happen in Medfield, too,” said Mineo, who is currently serving her last term on the council.
Spoiler alert: She made it happen.
In April, Town Meeting members approved a $4,250 appropriation to the Medfield Cultural Council, an amount matching the most recent allotment of state funds it received from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). The additional funding has enabled the council to double the number of grants it gives to local arts organizations, after two years of struggle in which it was only able to fulfill about 25 percent of their total funding request.
So how’d she do it? Mineo teamed up with MASSCreative’s organizing team to formulate a plan of action. She also worked closely with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and their Local Cultural Council program officer. Then she armed herself with a host of easily-digestible data that strongly made the case that funding the arts in Medfield was a sound―and eminently affordable―investment.
The Factory Theatre
Last month, the managers of the Factory Theatre were informed that their lease would not be renewed and that the theater would have to close at the end of October. The Factory Theatre serves as affordable space for small theater groups and currently hosts the resident companies Fresh Ink Theatre, Happy Medium Theatre Company, Science Fiction Theatre Company, Heart & Dagger Productions, Vagabond Theatre Group, Sleeping Weazel, Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company, Porpentine Players, and Wax Wings Productions.
The creative community has rallied against the theater’s closing, raising a unified voice against the decision of the owner’s decision not to renew the lease. The news attracted coverage in WBUR and the Globe, inspired Joyce Kulhawik to write an open letter to the owners, and sparked conversation on social media.
Our friends at StageSource wrote a thoughtful blogpost reflecting on what the loss of the Factory Theatre means for the theater community at-large:
But for the theater sector, and the art? The loss of The Factory Theatre is important. These small and fringe companies serve a number of roles. They operate on another level, and can take risks in their programming. They support new work, and playwrights. They provide access to artists at the beginning of their careers who are learning their crafts. They provide opportunities for mid-career actors interested in exploring directing or playwrighting. They provide theater artists with “day jobs” an opportunity to work avocationally in theater. They provide a home for a specific breed of theater artist. Not every theater artist dreams of “growing” beyond the small or fringe community. In fact, many of these artists thrive in this community. In the past ten years or so, the Boston theater community has come into its own, due in no small part to this part of our ecosystem.
Although the Factory Theatre's lease hasn't been renewed, it's not over! If you want to stay involved, follow Save the Factory Theatre and the ongoing conversations about the need for space among the groups in the theater community, including Boston Center for the Arts, StageSource, and Small Theatre Alliance of Boston.
Learn how to engage in political advocacy: Advocacy 101 Webinar
In partnership with the Barr Foundation, MASSCreative will host a webinar on:
Political Advocacy 101: Roles, Opportunities, and Legal Guidelines
for the Arts and Cultural Community
Thursday, September 18, 10:00 AM
Join arts leaders in Massachusetts for an hour long webinar to better understand the rules governing lobbying and advocacy activities conducted by 501(c)(3) organizations during legislative campaigns and elections. Hear from legal experts and sector leaders on how and why they engaged their organizations, boards, staff, and audiences in campaign work.
More details to come.