MASSCreative names Emily Ruddock new executive director

Organization also welcomes Boston arts chief Kara Elliott-Ortega and longtime arts advocate Barbara Wallace Grossman to board of directors

BOSTON, September 25, 2019—MASSCreative announces today that Emily Ruddock has been named executive director of the arts advocacy organization. Ruddock, who was appointed interim executive director last April following the departure of founding executive director Matt Wilson, assumed the permanent role after a unanimous vote of the MASSCreative Board of Directors.

“I am honored to lead MASSCreative, which in its first seven years has become an indispensable advocate for the state’s art, cultural, and creative communities,” Ruddock said. “As we look ahead to the next seven years and beyond, our work must expand to advance policies that support a strong, well-resourced creative sector so that everyone in Massachusetts, regardless of where they live, can access the benefits provided by artistic and cultural experiences and participation. The creative sector is one of the most potent contributors to the state’s economic and civic vitality, but none of this happens by accident. It takes strategic planning and advocacy.”

Ruddock brings 15 years of experience in strategic and management positions for non-profit arts organizations, including working as the first director of the City of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District. Before joining MASSCreative in 2017, Ruddock was the artistic producer at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT), where she managed the day-to-day operations of the Artistic Department, including hiring, resource logistics, and budgeting for theatrical productions. She also developed and supervised MRT’s first education department-focused effort, strengthening partnerships with local social service organizations and schools.

As director of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District, Ruddock was highly regarded by city officials and local arts leaders for her leadership in coordinating arts and cultural organizations for neighborhood revitalization and economic development. Ruddock worked with elected city and state officials on a range of projects to promote downtown Lynn and the arts community, including drafting legislation establishing the city’s first Public Art Commission. She also organized and executed free public events featuring local arts and community groups.

“Fulfilling our mission to create a Commonwealth in which arts, culture, and creativity are an expected, well-funded and valued part of everyday life will require leadership that is bold, strategic, and collaborative,” said MASSCreative Board Chair Stephen Immerman, who is President Emeritus of Montserrat College of Art. “That is what we have in Emily, who also brings passion not just for art, but for equitable access to art. We are incredibly excited to advance our work with artists, cultural councils, arts organizations and the broader creative community and to have Emily leading these efforts.” 

MASSCreative has also named two new members to its Board of Directors: 

  • Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston.
  • Barbara Wallace Grossman, interim department chair and professor of theatre at Tufts University’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Grossman has also served as a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

MASSCreative also selected new board leadership earlier this month. Immerman was elected board chair, replacing former chair Sara Stackhouse, founder of Stackhouse Creative and The Mama Project, who remains on the board as a member of the executive committee. Susan Chinsen, associate producer at ArtsEmerson and director of the Boston Asian American Film Festival, was elected Vice Chair of the board, and Justin Kang, vice president of economic growth for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, was elected Clerk of the board. 

Last, three board members, Catherine Peterson, executive director of ArtsBoston, Jason Weeks, executive director of Cambridge Arts Council, and Vanessa Snow, a community organizer for SEIU Local 509, stepped off of the board. Both Peterson and Weeks had served as founding board members.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Kara and Barbara to our board. Each has an impressive depth of knowledge not just of the arts but also its impact on communities and we welcome their leadership and expertise,” Immerman said. “We are deeply grateful to all of the work on MASSCreative’s behalf by Catherine, Jason, and Vanessa. The organization simply would not be as strong as it is today without their generous gifts of time and talent.” 


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VICTORY: Baker approves $18M for Mass Cultural

It’s official! On July 31, Governor Baker signed the FY20 state budget, and with it approved a $2 million increase in state public funding to the creative community through the Mass Cultural Council budget. 


This increase elevates the Mass Cultural Council budget to $18 million, making it the largest state allocation to the cultural agency since 2002. In addition to increasing public investment to the creative community, this final budget includes new language in the Mass Cultural Council line item ensuring that the state cultural agency will be able to continue to provide both grants and services to the creative community. 

This is the first time in five budget cycles that Governor Baker has not vetoed an increase to the Mass Cultural Council budget. In that time, MASSCreative and the creative community organized four successful overrides of Governor Baker's arts vetoes. We’re thrilled that this year we’re able to celebrate an early victory!

We’re grateful for partners and supporters like you, who have reached out and organized others to email their legislators--once, twice, three times--this budget season regarding state public arts funding. It’s with this collective action that MASSCreative can continue our work.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to thank Gov. Baker, you can do so here.




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Policy Watch: Advocating for A More Creative Massachusetts

MASSCreative works to advance policies that encourage the creation of art and access to cultural experiences for residents across the Commonwealth. On June 25, MASSCreative’s Interim Executive Director, Emily Ruddock, spent the day testifying for policies to encourage more creativity and artistic expression in the Commonwealth--first, at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, and later at the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. 

In the morning, Ruddock attended the board meeting of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to speak in support of adopting the revised Arts Curriculum Frameworks. On behalf of the Arts for All Coalition, Ruddock encouraged the board to adopt the Curriculum Frameworks as an essential next step in providing young people a quality in-school sequential arts education. The Arts Curriculum Frameworks--which have not been updated since 1999--are the guides used by districts and schools to develop local arts education curricula for each artistic discipline. Over the past two years, the Arts for All Coalition worked with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff to encourage thorough and relevant curriculum that contributes to a well-rounded education for every child, regardless of school district or zip code. 

In addition to adopting the new Curriculum Frameworks, Ruddock requested the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education support teachers in implementing the new frameworks. Ruddock offered the support and partnership of the Arts for All Coalition in this next phase of work. The Arts for All Coalition includes Arts | Learning, Mass Cultural Council, EdVestors, Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion and the Massachusetts College of Arts and Design

Kate Gilbert (left) Executive Director, Now and There and 
Emily Ruddock, 
MASSCreative Interim Executive Director prep for their testimony.

Next, Ruddock travelled to the State House for a hearing of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. There she spoke in support of bills to establish the Massachusetts Public Art Program, sponsored by Rep. Mary Keefe and Sen. Adam Hinds. The Massachusetts Public Art Program would invest approximately $2 million a year in the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. In doing so, Massachusetts would join every other New England state, along with 23 others, that invest in public art programs. During her testimony, Ruddock was joined by Kate Gilbert, Executive Director of Now + There, an organization that delivers thought-provoking public art projects that advance new definitions of public art. Gilbert spoke firsthand about the democratic nature of public art: everyone can access and appreciate work in the public realm. She also noted the transformational power public art has to spaces and neighborhoods.

IMG-0191.JPGMASSCreative Board Member and Executive Director, Worcester Cultural Coalition Erin Williams (left) and
Rep. Mary Keefe of Worcester (right) speak at the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development hearing.

While at the State House, Ruddock also submitted written testimony supporting bills filed by Rep. David Biele and Sen. James T. Welch that would exempt artistic services from the Commonwealth’s procurement process--the process through which state and municipal agencies acquire goods and services. Commissioning and selecting public art requires a very different process than the precise requirements demanded in the MA Public Procurement Act for other goods and services like paper projects and construction projects, where it often goes to the lowest bidder. Cities and towns who want to implement more public art projects on municipal-owned property find themselves hampered by the current procurement bidding requirements. These bills would add artists to a group including architects and photographers that are exempt from the procurement requirements, and would give cities and towns across Massachusetts the necessary policy change to create more public art. The Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition worked to advance these bills and lead the advocacy efforts. MASSCreative was happy to lend our support to this necessary legislation. Learn more about these bills here



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Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day 2019 
By Stephanie Mckay, Guest Contributor

On March 26, 2019, over 400 artists, arts leaders, supporters, and partners from across Massachusetts gathered for Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day. Stephanie Mckay, MASSCreative Member and Arts Advocacy Day Captain shares her experience: 

Stephanie Mckay, stands in front of the
Massachusetts Statehouse on Arts Advocacy Day

My name is Stephanie Mckay, and I am an educator, recording artist, mother, and graduate student at Lesley University in Arts, Community, and Education. As an educator, I am committed to working locally and internationally with youth to support and empower their voices through art and creativity.

In March, I took the day to attend MASSCreative’s Arts Advocacy Day because I have seen firsthand how the arts empower youth by giving them agency over their lives, by building their confidence, self-discipline, and critical thinking. 

Growing up in the Bronx, I was a shy girl who couldn’t imagine that my voice would matter enough to make a difference in my community. Through music, my chorus teacher Mrs. Ranno gave me a vehicle to express myself and transcend my environment. The arts allowed me to imagine and construct a more complex identity. 

Today, as an educator I am inspired to help young people have access to the same opportunities of self-expression, and to believe they can make their artistic and creative dreams come true.

Stephanie and Jason Rabin of Young Audiences march through
Boston Common during Arts Advocacy Day

When I arrived at Emerson’s Paramount Center for MASSCreative’s Arts Advocacy Day, the theater was buzzing with excitement as attendees connected with friends and colleagues, celebrated arts and culture, and advocated for a more vibrant Massachusetts. 

After honing our advocacy and storytelling skills at the Paramount, I joined fellow arts advocates for an ‘Arts March’ through the Boston Common to the State House. At the State House, arts advocates connected with over 80 legislative offices, telling stories of impact and showing that arts and creativity should be a respected, valued, and expected part of everyday life. 

My experience at MASSCreative’s Arts Advocacy Day was personally empowering and reminded me of the impact of using my voice to advocate for the arts today.

In addition to using my voice to support policies and legislation that will help develop the next generation of artists, I joined MASSCreative as a monthly donor to add my economic power to the movement. I’m excited to see what is next for MASSCreative and remain engaged because of the organization’s commitment to educate new leaders and mobilize people to take action--action which directly results in a better quality of life for families and communities across Massachusetts.

Stephanie and other arts advocates from Medford and
Somerville meet with Rep. Christine Barber


MASSCreative is grateful to its grassroots advocates who also invest in our success as individual donors. MASSCreative’s monthly donors select a regular and ongoing giving calendar, taking advantage of a manageable payment plan to provide critical, sustaining support to the organization throughout the year. No amount is too small. Thank you.


Join this special group of donors by signing up for your very own, just right for you, monthly giving plan. Thank you.




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Thank you MASSCreative Member Organizations


MASSCreative’s work to build a more healthy, equitable, and vibrant Massachusetts continues to grow thanks to the continued support of our member organizations. Take a look at the current list of MASSCreative Member Organizations and help us celebrate the new organizations who have joined this year! 

Interested in becoming a member organization? Join us!




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Congratulating Matt Wilson

image2.jpgL-R: Julie Muraco, Board Chair, Americans for the Arts; Matt Wilson,
Robert Lynch, Executive Director, Americans for the Arts

In April, Matt Wilson announced his departure as Executive Director of MASSCreative to return to the broader movement for social justice. Thanks to Matt's leadership, MASSCreative has grown from a small group of dedicated advocates to a statewide network of more than 400 organizational members and tens of thousands of grassroots arts supporters who work daily to make art and creativity a respected, valued, and expected part of everyday life. 

In June, Matt was honored at the Americans for the Arts Annual conference with the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award. We congratulate Matt on this national recognition for his political advocacy for artists and the creative sector in Massachusetts. 




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Program Director Tracie Konopinski Receives Fellowship to Build Community Through Creativity


MASSCreative is pleased to announce that Tracie Konopinski, the organization’s program director, has been awarded a Creative Community Fellowship by National Arts Strategies (NAS), a Virginia-based organization dedicated to strengthening the arts and culture sector by supporting and educating leaders working in the arts ecosystem.

 As one of 25 fellows in the 2019 Creative Community Fellows New England cohort, Konopinski will spend six months working with NAS, faculty partners from the University of Pennsylvania, and leading practitioners in the field learning ways to deepen community connections through strategic partnerships and other collaborations. 

You can read more about Tracie’s Fellowship here


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Meet Our Summer 2019 Interns


Learn more about the members of MASSCreative's summer internship team, and take a look at the projects they have been working on. Interested in a MASSCreative internship? Apply for fall/winter internship opportunities here.




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Staff Recommendations: articles to read and activities to attend


Equal access and opportunities for participation

Connected communities

Access to a well-rounded education for all students

Respect and support for the creative workforce and economy

Happy and healthy people



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MASSCreative Program Director Receives Fellowship to Build Community Through Creativity


Tracie Konopinski to develop arts leadership capacity as a NAS ‘creative change agent’

BOSTON, August 1, 2019—MASSCreative is pleased to announce that Tracie Konopinski, the organization’s program director, has been awarded a Creative Community Fellowship by National Arts Strategies (NAS), a Virginia-based organization dedicated to strengthening the arts and culture sector by supporting and educating leaders working in the arts ecosystem.

As one of 25 fellows in the 2019 Creative Community Fellows New England cohort, Konopinski will spend the next five months working with NAS, faculty partners from the University of Pennsylvania, and leading practitioners in the field learning ways to deepen community connections through strategic partnerships and other collaborations.

“Arts and culture connect people and strengthen communities. But this only happens when skilled, passionate, and creative people like Tracie make it happen,” said MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “As a grassroots arts advocacy organization, we’re excited for Tracie to have this opportunity and to see how she applies her fellowship experience in our work to ensure that the Commonwealth’s arts and culture sector can thrive.”

“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to stretch my thinking and perspective on community organizing and program development with a talented and diverse cohort of creatives,” said Konopinski “I’m looking forward to using the Fellowship to build out MASSCreative’s Youth Arts Action Initiative into a year-round curriculum while also collaborating with fellow creatives on their projects.

 “New England is teeming with creative entrepreneurs working at the intersection of culture and community,” said NAS Director Sunny Widmann. “This year’s Fellows have a clear passion to connect with others driving positive change across the region. The range of experiences and knowledge each Fellow brings to the cohort will contribute to a diverse community of practice which will strengthen and grow each project.”

Creative Community Fellows New England, instituted last year, is funded by the Barr Foundation. Konopinski and the members of her cohort will join a nationwide network of nearly 200 leaders who have participated in NAS’ parent Creative Community Fellows since 2014.

“Creative Community Fellows New England recognizes our region’s cultural leaders whose work is driving positive change in their communities, and provides support to deepen their impact,” said San San Wong, Barr Foundation Director of Arts & Creativity. “We welcome this newest class of artists and celebrate the expansion of this impressive network of creative change makers.”

Konopinski, a dancer and longtime community organizer, has been with MASSCreative since 2013, building a grassroots network of artists, cultural leaders, and arts advocates who are building creative communities throughout Massachusetts. She works closely with MASSCreative’s Leadership Council identifying new grassroots partnerships and ways to generate support for greater public investment and leadership in art, culture, and creativity. Konopinski has also trained hundreds of activists on political organizing and leadership development in prior campaigns for voter registration, affordable higher education, and environmental justice throughout western Massachusetts and Maine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Muhlenberg College, where she studied business, communication, and dance.

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