BOSTON, April 19, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in House of Representatives Proposed FY2020 Budget

BOSTON, April 19, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in House of Representatives Proposed FY2020 Budget:

“The House Ways and Means Committee has proposed funding the Massachusetts Cultural Council (Mass Cultural Council) at $16.6 million, which would be a $533,000 increase over last year’s allocation.

“Equitable public funding of the Mass Cultural Council creates greater opportunities for all Massachusetts residents to experience creativity and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression. This contrasts greatly with corporate giving, which is often driven by marketing goals and focuses on blockbuster arts events or other highly commercialized activities while individual philanthropists are often motivated by personal goals. Private foundation support is highly concentrated with nearly half (46.4%) of all foundation giving going to a fraction of all recipients (2.1%). This results in narrow programming that limits the breadth and depth of representation and participation from all our communities.

“But the Mass Cultural Council awards grants to 329 Local Cultural Councils around the state. More than half of them serve regions with high rates of poverty. The Mass Cultural Council also gives over 6,000 grants annually to working artists, cultural institutions, community groups, and youth programs that are otherwise not served by private funders.

“Sharing creative experiences and expressing our creativity builds powerful connections with the people we’re closest to, with our community and the world around us. Research repeatedly shows that opportunities for cultural engagement and creative expression are just as integral to social wellbeing as adequate food, housing, income, and the opportunity to pursue meaningful activities. The Mass Cultural Council supports 45 cultural districts across the state that are building bridges across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that other efforts at civic engagement cannot.

“None of these benefits to our communities and young people occur incidentally. We reap them when we deliberately choose to invest in artists, cultural organizations, and arts education. We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate as the FY2020 budget process proceeds.”

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MASSCreative praises Walsh Administration for Investment in Arts

BOSTON, April 12, 2019—MASSCreative applauds Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his administration for affirming the city’s support of the Office of Arts and Culture and the necessity of public investment in art, creativity, and culture in the FY2020 budget released April 10. As significant private grants that once funded a portion of the Office of Arts and Culture budget have expired, the city of Boston has increased its funding for the office by 37 percent. The investment will ensure continuation of the important work that the Office of Arts and Culture oversees, including the development and implementation of policies and grants that support artists, public art installations, and the innovative artist-in-residence program. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement in response:

“We’re excited to see this increase in funding for the Office of Arts and Culture by the city of Boston. Public funding of art, culture, and creativity means that more people of all ages, incomes, races, and backgrounds—including those from marginalized groups that are otherwise not served by private funders—will have opportunities to express themselves creatively, participate in arts activities, and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression.

“Boston’s artist-in-residence program is a striking example of the ways in which publicly-funded art can illuminate and enhance important public policy goals related to recovery from substance use, climate change, public safety, and racial equity. Other investments, including grants to artists and support for public art projects, strengthen communities by employing art to deepen relationships across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that other efforts at civic engagement cannot.”

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Arts Advocacy Day draws 350 advocates to the State House

One trending hashtag, 80 meetings with Beacon Hill lawmakers, and countless stories shared.

These are just a few of the accomplishments pulled off by the 350 working artists and organizational leaders who attended Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day March 26. The day began with speeches and performances at the Emerson Paramount Center in downtown Boston, continued with a honk band-led arts march across Boston Common, and ended with meetings on Beacon Hill.

“Artists carried the message to lawmakers that for Massachusetts to be the best place it can be for residents, then art and creativity must be an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. “That means investing in creativity and culture and enacting policies that support the creative workforce, ensure access across geography, income, physical ability, and other barriers, and also bring the arts to education, health and wellness, and economic development.”

Boston Arts Academy student Alexis Maxwell set the tone for the day with her joyful ode to the power of art to change the world, which she sang on stage while strumming a ukulele. When she finished, audience-goers throughout the packed theater stood to declare why they were advocates for the arts.

Mass Humanities Executive Director Brian Boyles observed that creativity “connects us with our past and helps us imagine our future” while artist Justina Crawford explained that creativity connected her with “communities that inspire me to be bold” and author Lauren Wolk said that creativity connects her “to my very best self.” ArtsEmerson Executive Director David Howse, who emceed the event, garnered applause when he gestured back and forth between himself and the audience as he repeated his reason for advocating for the arts: “creative connects us to our common humanity!”

Stories of art’s power to change lives, bring people together, and build community flowed from the stage along with the pointed message that art is serious business. Emerson College President Lee Pelton noted that “art and artists build bridges not walls” and Enchanted Circle Theater Executive Director Priscilla Kane Hellweg explained that “we bring joy back to learning.”

Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker described the “ever present anxiety” many people feel in response to current politics. The cure for our collective angst? “Human contact,” she said. “That is your superpower. …. Artists speak with empathy connecting all of us.”

Both co-chairs of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development attended Creativity Connects and had advice for the crowd. State Sen. Edward Kennedy of Lowell credited artists and arts organizations with anchoring Lowell’s economic resurgence and for welcoming the city’s African and Cambodian diasporas. But he reminded audience-goers to share the creative sector’s impressive economic contributions to the Commonwealth when they met with lawmakers: more than 73,000 jobs and $1 billion to the state’s economy.

State Rep. Ed McMurtry of Dedham said that the work of advancing art policy and increasing state investment in creativity hinged on strong shows of support from the creativity community itself. “Today is an important day as you come up to Beacon Hill and advocate to your reps and senators and staff the significance that arts have to you and to the community,” McMurtry said.

Maurice Emmanuel Parent, co-founder of the Front Porch Arts Collective, led other artists in an entertaining and theater-worthy session about how to share personal stories about the impact of art with lawmakers. State Rep. Mary Keefe of Worcester who sits on the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development teamed up with Erin Williams, Worcester’s cultural development officer in leading a group of volunteers through a role play of how to ask lawmakers and staff for support.

Emily Ruddock, MASSCreative’s director of policy and government affairs, unveiled MASSCreative’s policy platform for the 2019-2020 legislative session, which provided the framework for organizing personal stories into policy prescriptions. Focusing on five realms in which the creative community makes unique and vital contributions to the state, Ruddock explained, the platform identifies what the creative community “needs to do better”: the well-being accessed through creative expression; broad opportunities for participation; community-based arts programs; sequential arts education; and respect and support for the creative workforce and economy.

Audience-goers then transformed into a lively and enthusiastic parade. Led by the Summer Street Brass Band, they marched across Boston Common to the State House where they met with lawmakers to share stories about the power of art and request legislative support for funding and policy reforms.

Additional resources:

Video of Howlround’s Livestream of Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day

MASSCreative’s guide to the state budget

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Arts, advocacy, and connection--David C. Howse, ArtsEmerson

As the Executive Director at ArtsEmerson, I’m thrilled to continue the partnership with MASSCreative to host Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day at the Emerson Paramount Center. And I’m excited that I’ll be with everyone on March 26 as your emcee for the gathering.

Arts Advocacy Day fits right into ArtsEmerson’s mission to engage all communities through stories that reveal and deepen our connection to each other. By cultivating diversity in the arts and in the audience, we ignite public conversation around our most vexing societal challenges as a catalyst for overcoming them.

That’s why I want to personally invite you to join me on March 26 for MASSCreative’s Arts Advocacy Day

Please join me at Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day on March 26 at the Paramount Center in Boston.

Back in 2017, when my colleagues at ArtsEmerson first sat down to talk about the partnership with MASSCreative, we all agreed that the attendees at Arts Advocacy Day would need to represent the full diversity of the broad arts community in Massachusetts, including those who have made significant contributions to the field but have felt unwelcomed at the arts/culture table.

At ArtsEmerson, we believe in the power of art to ignite our vision of a thriving world--one where all of its residents are seen and heard and life is better, richer, and fuller for everyone.

Right now, the Culture Wars have been revived in Washington and for the third year in a row, there’s talk of dismantling the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. We face the additional challenge of making a case that everyone has a right to creatively express themselves, see their culture reflected in their communities, and access the benefits of creative and cultural experiences.

Yet, if there was ever a place to use the labs of democracy to ensure arts and culture is respected, valued, and expected – it’s at home in Massachusetts. More than ever, we need to come together to share creative experiences with our neighbors and our local elected officials that spark transformation at the personal, community, and civic levels.

I look forward to being in the Emerson Paramount Center with you and MASSCreative on March 26 for Arts Advocacy Day. By inviting the glorious cultural diversity of our region into our theater, let’s create an environment where these shared experiences create opportunities for connection across our differences.

RSVP for Arts Advocacy Day here.

Onward and upward, 
David C. Howse
Executive Director, ArtsEmerson

 

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Being a musician and an advocate on March 26-- Christopher Schroeder, Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program

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As the Executive Director of the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program and Founder of the Summer Street Brass Band, my team and I are always working to provide performance and teaching opportunities for our youth musicians so they can develop their skills not only as as dynamic performers, but also as compassionate citizens.

That’s why I’m so thrilled that the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program and Summer Street Brass Band will be performing at the Emerson Paramount Center for Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day.

Join me, our youth musicians, and advocates at Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day on March 26 at the Paramount Center in Boston.

In 2017, when my students and I stepped onto the stage at the Paramount, we were ready to give a fun performance. When I turned to the audience, I saw hundreds of people in the theater--everyday residents and students, renowned artists, and some of the most important arts leaders in Massachusetts. That’s when I knew it wasn’t just our music, but our collective advocacy that was going to make a big impact.

AMAD17-1Photo__by_Keith_Bedford_The_Boston_Globe_via_Getty_Images.pngAnd it wasn’t just me who felt the impact. Ever since Arts Advocacy Day in 2017 when our French horn player, Jordan, saw a front page photo of himself in The Boston Globe, he’s been asking me when we’re going to lead another march through the Boston Common to the State House.

I often tell my students that it’s important to show up for causes they care about. This means not just showing up once, but showing up again and again.

Our youth musicians and I look forward to playing for you and marching together to the State House –whether it’s your first MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day or your third. The Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program and the Summer Street Brass Band are excited to amplify our voices and show how we use music as a vehicle for social change.

RSVP for Arts Advocacy Day here.

March on,
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Christopher Schroeder
Executive Director, Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program
Founder, Summer Street Brass Band

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summerstreetbrassband.org

Images (1-3): Emerson College, Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe, Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe

 

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Artists, Arts and Cultural Leaders, and Supporters to March and Meet with Legislators on Arts Advocacy Day March 26

March 5, 2019―MASSCreative announces that Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day will be held Tuesday, March 26 at Emerson Paramount Center in downtown Boston from 9am-1pm. Artists, cultural leaders, and supporters from around the state will gather for a fun and inspiring program featuring speakers, performers. and training in legislative advocacy. At 1pm, the group will hold an “Arts Matter March” to the State House and meet with lawmakers to advocate for political support of art, culture, and creativity.

Speakers at the Emerson Paramount Center will include state Rep. Mary Keefe (D-Worcester), who is Co-Chair of the Cultural Caucus, State Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Lowell0, Chair of the Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee, Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer, City of Worcester, and David Howse, Executive Director, ArtsEmerson.

Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day supports MASSCreative’s campaigns to build a Commonwealth where arts and creativity are an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life by:

  • increasing public investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • ensuring that every student from K-12 receives quality, sequential arts education
  • strengthening policies that support working artists, including access to affordable housing and healthcare and local zoning that permits live/work spaces
  • integrating art therapy in rehabilitation, recovery, anti-violence, and other wellness programs
  • revitalizing downtowns and main streets via public art, cultural districts, and creative placemaking

“Across the Commonwealth, artists, creative entrepreneurs, and nonprofit arts organizations strengthen communities, drive local economies, and change the lives of participants and audience-goers alike,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson. “None of this happens by accident. It’s the result of planning, participation, and investment. It’s important that legislators understand all of the good work taking place in their districts as they work on the budget and policy proposals that shape the creative economy.”

On January 23, Gov. Baker released his FY 2020 budget with a recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture at $16.1 million, which is the same level as last year’s allocation. In the coming months, the House and Senate will release their respective budgets. Because of the positive impact that arts and culture has on the quality of life in every community across the Commonwealth, as the budget process proceeds to the Legislature, MASSCreative will urge lawmakers to support an $18 million allocation for the arts in Massachusetts.

More than 100 organizations and artists have signed up as co-sponsors of Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day.

Follow #ArtsMatter and #CreativityConnects on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the conversation.

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Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day on March 26

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Creative experiences and creative expression help build powerful connections between people, communities, and the broader world.

That’s why MASSCreative is thrilled to invite you to channel your arts advocacy energy into Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day on March 26 in Boston to show our state political leaders that arts, culture, and creativity help build a more vibrant, healthy, and connected Massachusetts.

Join us for a morning at Emerson Paramount Center in downtown Boston and an early afternoon at the State House. After a morning of connecting with friends and colleagues, celebrating arts & culture, and sharpening our advocacy skills at the Paramount, we will march together to the State House. When we arrive, we will meet with our legislators about arts and cultural issues, including the state budget, arts education, and creative placemaking.

Learn more about Arts Advocacy Day and how you can make an impact by partnering, attending, and spreading the word.





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The Annual State Budget - What to Look for and When

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Last month Governor Baker submitted his budget recommendations to the legislature and officially kicked off the annual budget debate in Massachusetts.

A quick look at the Governor’s budget reveals the vast difference in spending between departments and agencies. Of the nearly $50 billion budget, more than half is spent on Health and Human Services (55%) while less than 1% (.03% to be exact) is allocated for the Mass Cultural Council.  

While the Mass Cultural Council budget is comparatively small, maintaining--and even increasing--that amount requires constant and broad grassroots activism from now until the end of summer when the budget is passed. It can feel redundant having to make the same ask year after year, yet the budget process is an opportunity for us to tell our stories on the importance of arts and creativity in our communities.  Annually, lawmakers, advocates, and constituents need to consider the direction and priorities of the Commonwealth and where public support is needed most.

Many sectors and groups are deserving of public investment; however, with limited funds lawmakers have to make tough financial choices. They look to their constituents to help them consider what programs and agencies will have the most impact in their district. This is why regular personal communication with your Senator and Representative is crucial to increasing public investment in the creative community. Here are a few key things to look out for over the next few months:

February and March - Budget and public hearings

Following the release of the Governor’s budget in January, the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means begin to put together their respective budgets that reflect the priorities and vision of each chamber.  

Public Hearings allow the Ways and Means committees the opportunity to hear from the public about what agencies and programs are most important to them. They also hear from fellow lawmakers on what they most want to see included in the budget. With over 200 members representing every corner of the Commonwealth, distilling these various priorities takes a long time. Many advocacy groups, advocates, and organizations plan days at the State House to make sure their issues are being considered in the budget.

Join Creativity Connects Arts Advocacy Day to share with your legislators why the creative sector matters.

Mid April - The House Budget

Once the House Ways and Means Committee reports on the budget bill favorably, it is sent to the full House during the week of April 8th. This is a particularly important moment--and one where MASSCreative especially needs your help.  Members of the House can offer amendments to the budget which include specific increases for state agencies and programs. (The arts and creative community is fortunate to have Representatives who usually offer an amendment for an increase in the Mass Cultural Council budget.) Once a Representative offers an amendment, members of the House can sign on as co-sponsors to show their support for a specific spending area or priority. The more co-sponsors it gets, the more support that particular spending priority has. For the last six years, MASSCreative has worked with partner arts advocates and member organizations to reach out and ask members of the House to sign on a co-sponsor of amendments to increase the Mass Cultural Council budget. The more calls, emails, and meetings a representative receives regarding an amendment the high the chances are they will sign on as a co-sponsor. This is a great time to reach out and remind your Representative that arts and creativity matter to you.

A final version of the House budget, that includes many of the filed amendments is voted on and sent to the Senate--where the process begins again.

Mid May - The Senate Budget

Like the House, the Senate Ways and Mean Committee has the opportunity to develop their own budget. And like the House, the Senate debates amendments to the budget offered by Senators. Senators also seek co-sponsors to support their amendments. This is followed by a final vote on the budget.

Key components of work at the State House are caucuses which are open to both House and Senate members. The legislative caucuses are organized by a particular political party affiliation or area of social policy and help to build support for an issue or sector. These caucuses play a valuable role during the budget process by helping organize and increase support for a particular budget amendment. The newly reformed Cultural Caucus, co-chaired by Representative Mary Keefe and Senator Julian Cyr, will work with arts advocates and MASSCreative to build support for the Mass Cultural Council budget inside the State House. 

June - Reconciling the budget(s)

Following the passage of the Senate budget, a committee known as the Conference Committee is convened to create a single budget reflective of the House and Senate versions. The Conference Committee includes members of the both the House and the Senate. Once the Committee has reconciled the two versions of the budget they release a Committee Report that is presented to the House and Senate for a vote.

June (continued) - Vetoes and Overrides

Following the House and Senate passage of the budget the Governor has 10 days to review the new version. The Governor can then sign the budget into law, veto the budget, or make line item vetos. The line item veto means the Governor can specifically reduce the amount of a particular budget item. Last year, after successfully getting an increase to the Mass Cultural Council budget from the House and Senate, Governor Baker line item vetoed the increase and returned the budget amount to level funding.

However, the budget isn’t finished yet! The House and the Senate can chose to override any or all of the Governor's vetoes. Any veto override requires 2/3 of both the House and the Senate. This is another moment where lawmaker need to hear from you about the value of arts, culture and creativity. Once all the overrides are voted on the budget is final!

July - Thanking our champions

The fiscal year officially begins July 1st.  After many months of work advocating for the budget, lawmakers turn their attention to other legislation, but their efforts on behalf of the creative community should not go unacknowledged.  Regardless of the final budget amount for the Mass Cultural Council, July is a good time to reach out to thank your legislators for their work and efforts.

 

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#SaveTheNEA #SaveTheNEH - Back to D.C. to Fight for Arts, Culture and Creativity

In March, Emily Ruddock, MASSCreative’s Director of Policy and Government Affairs will lead a team of MA advocates and arts supporters to Washington, D.C. for the Americans for the Arts Annual National Arts Action Summit. The two day summit includes updates on arts policy and research, networking with advocates from across the nation and meetings with Senators and members of Congress to share the vital role the creative sector plays in making Massachusetts--and the nation--a stronger, healthier and more connected place to live.

A central focus of the trip will be advocating for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since taking office, the President has twice attempted to defund and shut down these federal agencies. Each time, Congress has enthusiastically fought back, protecting both the NEA and NEH and providing modest budget increases to support artists and the creative sector across the country.  

Though the President has yet to release his budget recommendations for next year, there is good reason to suggest he will again attempt to dismantle both agencies. Part of the National Arts Summit is to demonstrate the broad and deep support the NEA and NEH enjoys and thank members of Congress for standing up for arts, culture, and creativity. Advocates who cannot attend the Summit are encouraged to participate from home by reaching out to their Senators and member of Congress via social media and email.

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The Rebirth of the State House Cultural Council

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Mass Cultural Council Chair Anita Walker talked about the arts programming
happening across the state

In a standing room only event attended by over 75 lawmakers and staff, five statewide arts organizations representing artists, municipalities, creative entrepreneurs, and arts institutions both large and small, shared information on the state’s creative economy and the need for public investment in the sector.

The January 16 legislative briefing was organized by Cultural Caucus co-chairs Sen. Julian Cyr (D-Truro) and Rep. Mary Keefe (D-Worcester) and vice-chairs Sen. Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield) and Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). Sen. Cyr opened the event with a story about how he got the bug for politics by successfully advocating for increased funding for his junior high school’s music program.

“Arts and culture are integral to the Commonwealth. We need to be stepping up and supporting it in a meaningful way,” Cyr said.

In addition to building support among members for a $2 million increase to the Mass Cultural Council budget, the Cultural Caucus will have the opportunity to back legislation designed to strengthen the Commonwealth’s creative sector, which has ripple effects throughout the state in terms of economic development, education, and social justice programs.

“As a new legislative session begins, it is vital that arts funding and related policies are backed by a robust Cultural Caucus. It is exciting to see Beacon Hill lawmakers relaunch the Caucus,” said MASSCreative Policy and Government Affairs Director Emily Ruddock who helped spearhead the effort in conjunction with the Mass Cultural Council, Massachusetts Arts Leadership Council (MALC), MassHumanities, Arts|Learning, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the .

Kathleen Bitteti of MALC thanked Joanne Muti, the Research Director for the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development for her support of the sector over the past decade. Muti, who recently announced her retirement, has worked closely with legislators and Committee Co-chair Rep. Corey Atkins to increase public support and investment in Massachusetts’ creative and cultural sector. Her contributions and collegiality will be missed by all who worked with her.

 

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