July 19, 2018 - MASSCreative launches Create the Vote 2018 in communities across the state

BOSTON, July 19, 2018—MASSCreative announces today that Create the Vote 2018 will launch next week with events in Boston, Easthampton, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Somerville, and Worcester. Create the Vote is a non-partisan, grassroots campaign to engage voters and candidates for office in Massachusetts on the vital role that arts, culture and creative expression play in improving our schools, strengthening our economy, and building neighborhoods where people want to live, work, and play.

During Create the Vote campaigns, local advocates encourage candidates to develop cultural policies for their cities, towns, and school districts, and to lead by example by convening community leaders on the arts and by attending arts and cultural events. Create the Vote campaigns include public meetings with candidates, artists, and cultural leaders; candidate debates and forums; and publicizing candidates’ answers to a questionnaire about the arts.

“Although creativity builds more vibrant, equitable and connected communities, political and policy support for the arts isn’t a given,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson. “It comes from deliberate, strategic organizing and advocacy by the creative community, and cultivation of municipal and state leaders. We’re excited to work with community partners across the state to ensure that the benefits of our creative economy—and how to grow it—are part of the political discourse in this election season.”

MASSCreative has collaborated with community leaders on Create the Vote campaigns in communities across the Commonwealth since 2013, when its inaugural campaign secured a pledge from Boston mayoral candidate Marty Walsh to hire an arts commissioner, a promise he fulfilled after being elected. Create the Vote campaigns have also been instrumental in persuading municipal officials in Medford and Medfield to provide matching funds for their local cultural councils. In New Bedford, Create the Vote spearheaded the successful effort to establish a dedicated arts fund using revenue from the city’s lodging tax. The fund required the support of Mayor Jon Mitchell and the City Council, along with Gov. Charlie Baker’s approval of a home-rule petition.

Last year, MASSCreative partnered with local arts leaders, advocates, artists, creative entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in 13 cities and towns and three state senate districts. Participating municipalities included Barnstable, Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham, Franklin, Holyoke, Lowell, Lynn, Newton, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. In 2014, Create the Vote hosted the Commonwealth’s first-ever gubernatorial arts debate, drawing more than 500 people to Worcester’s Hanover Theatre to hear candidates explain their vision for our creative economy.

“Elections are when we hear candidates’ best ideas for meeting the challenges our communities are facing,” Wilson added. “Given the important role that art plays in educating our students, building strong neighborhoods, and generating economic activity, Create the Vote provides a valuable platform for candidates to share their ideas and policy positions on arts, culture and creativity.”

Follow the campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #CreateTheVote. You can also “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @MASSCreative, and visit http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv.

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BOSTON, July 18, 2018 - MASSCreative Urges Governor Baker to Approve Arts Funding Increase

Today, the Massachusetts Legislature approved the Conference Committee’s FY19 budget recommendations, which include a $2 million increase for the Mass Cultural Council to bring the state’s investment in arts, culture, and creativity to $16.1 million. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson offered the following statement in response:

“We’re incredibly thankful to House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Harriette L. Chandler, Ways and Means Chairs Sen. Karen Spilka and Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, Reps. Cory Atkins and Stephen Kulik and Sen. Adam Hinds, and Cultural Caucus Chairs Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Mary Keefe, for their leadership advocating for an increased public investment in the Mass Cultural Council.

“We urge Gov. Charlie Baker to sign the budget with this increase included. Our state and local economies are made up of hundreds of downtown districts that would be diminished without the contributions of nonprofit arts organizations, who generated more than $2.2 billion in activity in 2015 alone. Our community life is also much richer when the arts are a part of it. Creativity and culture are the building blocks for vibrant, equitable, and connected neighborhoods, and arts education benefits learners of all ages and across fields of study.

“These economic and community benefits do not happen incidentally. They are the result of deliberate choices to invest in local cultural councils that provide free opportunities for arts and creative events and programs to all members of our communities. They happen when we nurture the development of the Commonwealth’s vast and diverse community of artists, who are driving the reinvigoration of the state’s gateway cities including Lynn, New Bedford, and Springfield. And they happen when we invest in arts education and field trips to museums, theatrical productions and musical performances so that every student has access to art, culture, and creativity.”

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BOSTON, May 25, 2018— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Senate Budget for Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council:

“We applaud state senators who have approved an increase in funding for the Mass Cultural Council from $14 million to $16 million. We’re thankful to Senate President Harriette L. Chandler, Senate Ways & Means Committee Chair Karen Spilka, and the 22 cosponsors on Senator Adam Hinds’ Mass Cultural Council Amendment.

“The Senate budget must now be reconciled with the House budget, which recommended funding the Mass Cultural Council at $14.5 million. As the two legislative bodies work on a final number, we urge them to keep in mind the short and long-term benefits that creativity, culture, and art bring to the Commonwealth.

“Our state and local economies made up of hundreds of downtown districts, would be diminished without the contributions of nonprofit arts organizations, who generated more than $2.2 billion in activity in 2015 alone. Our community life is also much richer when the arts are a part of it. Creativity and culture are the building blocks for vibrant, equitable, and connected neighborhoods, and arts education benefits learners of all ages and across fields of study.

“None of these benefits occur incidentally. They come only by deliberately choosing to invest in arts education and field trips to museums, theatrical productions and musical performances. They happen when we fund local cultural councils that provide free opportunities for arts and cultural events and programs to all members of their communities. They happen when we nurture the development of the Commonwealth’s vast and diverse community of artists, who are driving the reinvigoration of the state’s gateway cities including Lynn, New Bedford, and Springfield, and often through projects funded by Mass Cultural Council.”

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BOSTON, May 10, 2018 - Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Senate Ways & Means Committee Recommended Funding of the Mass Cultural Council in State Budget

“The Senate Ways and Means Committee’s recommendation to fund the Mass Cultural Council at $14 million would see the agency funded as the same amount as the previous three years, and is $500,000 less than the amount recommended by the House. This simply isn’t enough to support a cultural sector that plays such a central role in enriching our communities. 

“The local cultural councils and other nonprofit arts organizations funded by the Mass Cultural Council infuse our cities and towns with creative activities and events making our neighborhoods more connected, vibrant, and equitable. The benefits of these intentional investments in art and creativity can be seen in local economies, schools, and public health and safety.

“Arts education improves the learning of students of all ages and across varying fields of study. Addiction experts have long-recognized the value of art-based therapy in improving the health and resiliency of people recovering from addiction. And the nonprofit arts sector generated more than $2.2 billion in economic activity in 2015.

“The Mass Cultural Council ensures that these benefits are available to everyone regardless of where they live or how much money they make. Grants from the Mass Cultural Council also bring stature, attention, and additional private-sector investments to otherwise low-profile installations, exhibits, and performances which means that decisions about what kinds of creative endeavors get produced are not solely based on already-existing financial resources.

“The positive impact of creativity on our communities is undeniable and cannot be taken for granted. That is why we will continue to support a $3 million increase in the Mass Cultural Council, bringing its total funding to $17 million. We urge state senators to support State Senator Adam Hinds’ Mass Cultural Council amendment, calling for this $3 million increase.

“This will ensure that the Mass Cultural Council can carry out its work of promoting excellence, inclusion, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and sciences across the state.”

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House Increases Mass Cultural Council Budget

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On Thursday, April 26, the Massachusetts House passed its budget plan and took a stand for arts, culture, humanities, and sciences. It voted to fund the Mass Cultural Council at $14.5 million in FY19. This represents a $500,000 increase over last year’s allocation to the Mass Cultural Council and the recommendation of the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this month.

Your advocacy effectively helped secure over 100 cosponsors (a majority) onto Representative Cory Atkins’ amendment to fund the Mass Cultural Council at $17 million. Backed by majority support on the amendment and an increase in funding from the House, the creative community is in a strong position to continue advocating for $17 million for the Mass Cultural Council from the Senate.

We thank Speaker Robert DeLeo, Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez, and Representative Cory Atkins for their leadership and choosing to step up its investment in the arts and cultural sector. We also thank the 103 cosponsors on the Mass Cultural Council amendment and Representative Stephen Kulik, an arts champion who cited the increase in funding for the Mass Cultural Council in his floor speech about the final House budget. To thank your Representatives for standing up for arts and culture, send them a quick email through our easy-to-use online tool here.

The Senate will release its budget in May. Once again, we'll need you to take action to send a clear message that arts matter and it’s time for increased support for creativity and culture.

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Local District Meetings with Elected Officials

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Looking for another opportunity to engage with your state elected officials around arts and culture? MASSCreative is holding a set of district meetings in May to bring together the public with local elected officials in several cities across the Commonwealth. These meetings will give residents and local elected officials an opportunity to discuss the strengths and challenges facing the creative community and the role arts and culture can play in addressing the needs of our cities and towns. Learn more about the upcoming district meetings here.

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MASSCreative Advocacy Helps NEA and NEH Win Budget Increases

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Overriding President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Congress passed the finalized 2018 federal funding bill on March 23 that includes $3 million increases to both organizations. These increases will fund each agency at $152.8 million through September 30, 2018.

This victory came on the heels of our work to Save the NEA and NEH and Americans for the Arts’ Annual Arts Advocacy Day. In March, Program Advocate, Emily Ruddock traveled to the nation’s capital to join passionate arts advocates from across the country to share why the arts matter with their elected officials. Emily was joined by Massachusetts arts advocates  Nick Bazo of The Theater Offensive, Robin Hayden of Country Dance and Song Society, Mark Murphy of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Rob Southworth of School Works Lab, and Ann Wicks of New England Foundation for the Arts. The MA team met with the offices of all 11 Massachusetts Members of Congress, including both Senators Markey and Warren. During each office visit, the team delivered thousands of signatures from MA residents on our Save the NEA/NEH petition and shared stories of impact from young people from our #ArtsMatter poster project.  

Win one congressional win under our belt, another fight looms for next year’s 2019 budget, as President Trump’s FY19 budget also proposed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

“Shutting down these arts and humanities agencies isn’t about balancing the budget or cutting excess spending. These cuts are a direct attack on our values and all that arts, culture, and the humanities bring to building healthy, vibrant, and equitable communities across the country,” said MASSCreative Program Advocate Emily Ruddock.

MASSCreative will continue to follow the federal budget process and provide additional opportunities for members  to show the MA Congressional delegation that arts and culture are public good worthy of public investment.

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Franklin Cultural Council Holds Local Advocacy Day

 Franklin3.png  Franklin1.png                                                                   MASSCreative works with local cultural councils and arts leaders to conduct advocacy skills trainings.

Bringing together more than 50 local arts leaders from Franklin and nearby communities, the Franklin Cultural Council held a Community Arts Advocacy Day, a day-long program of workshops, panel discussions, and opportunities to advocate on behalf of arts and culture.

MASSCreative Program Advocate Emily Ruddock and MASSCreative Leadership Council Members Justin Springer and Nicky Enriquez led workshops on the skills and strategies local activists need to influence their elected leaders.

Lunch with elected officials including Rep. Roy (D-Franklin), Rep. Dykema (D-Holliston) and Rep. Murray (D-Milford) offered an opportunity for them to share their vision for more creative and vibrant Massachusetts and hear directly from arts supporters about why the arts and creativity matter.

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Barry’s Blog: A two-part Interview with MASSCreative's Matt Wilson

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Barry Hessenius, who writes a national blog about the arts and creative community published a two-part interview with MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on April 9 and 10.  The interview provides an in-depth look at MASSCreative’s six-year history and its groundbreaking approach to arts advocacy.

You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

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Essex County Community Foundation Launches its Creative Community Program

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Bringing together more than 400 arts leaders and supporters, from the North Shore, the Essex County Community Foundation launched its Creative Community program to increase support and resources for the arts and creativity.

MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson led workshops to over 60 of the participants on how to build public will for the arts and creativity with city and state leaders in the county.

With support from the Barr Foundation and ECCF's donors, the Creative County Initiative will provide funding in three distinct areas over the next two years:

  • Local Cultural Plan Workshops/Toolkits - one-day workshops (offered in sub-regions of Essex County and in partnership with Metropolitan Area Planning Council and Merrimack Valley Planning Commision) to facilitate local cultural planning partnerships. We anticipate these will begin in the fall of 2018. Details available summer of 2018.
  • Creative Placemaking Grants - funding that encourages creative placemaking in communities. View Grant Guidelines.
  • Public Art Grants - funding for interactive public art projects that connect people through a shared experience. View Grant Guidelines.

The ECCF program is one of four regional programs funded by the Barr Foundation. Barr is also partnering with the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, the Worcester Community Foundation the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts

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