A good day for democracy

2014-01-17_14.12.38.jpgBOSTON, January 17, 2014 -- MASSCreative delivered over 3,000 signatures today to Governor Patrick's office at the State House, asking him to increase state investment in the arts, cultural, and creative community by $5 million. Delivered a week before Governor Patrick is expected to release his last budget as Massachusetts governor, the public comments call on him to provide the resources and support needed to build more connected communities and a vibrant, thriving economy across the Commonwealth.

"Massachusetts is home to large-scale museums, theaters, and orchestras that enjoy international reputations, as well as numerous community-based playhouses and art centers that drive our economy," said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. "These institutions would not exist without the robust and enthusiastic support of Massachusetts residents who routinely sell out performances and flock to cultural venues."

The impact of the Commonwealth's investment in the creative community is clear. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually, and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. The downtowns of many of our Gateway Cities are vibrant because art galleries, performing arts centers, and music venues bring residents together and generate economic activity. The Massachusetts Cultural Data Project reports that in 2010 the leading nonprofit arts, science, and history organizations in Massachusetts served nearly four million children through education programs, and provided more than nine million free admissions to the public.

Yet over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined nearly 60%. Twenty-five years ago, the Commonwealth invested $26 million in the creative community; ten years ago that investment was $19 million. Today, the MCC budget stands at $11.1 million. 

"A $5 million increase will begin to restore the MCC budget back to where it was a decade ago and bring more resources to the hundreds of arts and cultural organizations that bring our communities together, spur economic activity, and create places where we all want to live, work, play, and visit," added Matt Wilson.

The budget Governor Patrick signed into law last year included a 17% increase to the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget. Last November, he tripled the state's allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund. Both moves have set the stage for a final gesture to leave a lasting arts legacy for the state.


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Mayor Walsh’s Chief Policy Advisor Could Be a Game-Changer for the Arts

As we await the fulfillment of newly-minted Mayor Marty Walsh’s campaign pledge to appoint a cabinet-level arts commissioner, another appointee has already given the arts community reason to cheer: Joyce Linehan. In one of his first mayoral appointments, Walsh appointed the arts PR maven, indie record label exec, and politically-wired Dorchester native to be his chief of policy. (Linehan was a former board member of MASSCreative; she resigned after Walsh won election as mayor.)

By putting Linehan in the driver’s seat on City Hall policy initiatives, Walsh has the potential to create a more cohesive, vibrant, community-oriented arts scene and jumpstart a true creative economy.

If you’re not already familiar with Linehan, this recent Boston Magazine profile will tell you all you need to know, and it will probably make you giddy.

In particular, this passage toward the end of the article spells out how Linehan, a close friend and inner-circle campaign advisor, schooled Walsh about the importance of the arts as a cultural and economic driver during his campaign:

“She pushed me on the issue,” he said. In some cases, Walsh would wonder why he wasn’t meeting with a big crowd in Dorchester or South Boston rather than with four or five people from the arts community downtown. But he began to see the arts as part of the identity of the city, an avenue for economic growth, and a way to create opportunities for young people. He found that when he began to bring up the arts at some of these larger community forums, heads in the audience would nod in agreement.

Walsh’s championing of the arts became a keystone of his campaign — which had the effect of underlining Linehan’s influence. After the election, Walsh quickly committed to creating a cabinet-level “arts czar” position, and also pledged to earmark a percentage of city revenue to arts funding. Even before Walsh set foot in City Hall, it was a remarkable commitment of resources — a victory for Boston’s creative class, and an impressive triumph for Linehan, who is also playing a top role in Walsh’s transition team.

“She won,” laughed Walsh about Linehan’s schedule-busting small meetings. “And I’m grateful for it.”

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Big Red & Shiny interviews MASSCreative's Matt Wilson

Matt_9.9_edit.jpgAs part of it's new interview series, "Boston Common," Big Red & Shiny talks to Matt Wilson about MASSCreative and the cultural sector. 

When asked about one challenge that the creative community faces, Matt offered up this answer: 

"Boston is in the bottom five among major cities for investment in the arts and cultural community. We need to correct this with dedicated revenue streams. After raising the issue several times in conversation with mayoral candidates throughout the Create the Vote campaign, the new mayor has committed to creating a line item in the city budget for the arts. As Mayor-elect Walsh begins his transition phase, the Create the Vote coalition is ready to work with him to help him develop a stable and adequate funding source for the arts line in the budget."

Read the whole interview over at Big Red & Shiny.



 Photo by Kat Waterman

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Keep up the momentum!

Last year, over 5,000 people signed our petition to encourage Governor Deval Patrick to increase state investment in the creative community through the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget. In coming together to boldly ask for what we need, we ignited an arts advocacy campaign and were able to influence Governor Patrick to take a crucial step toward restoring essential funding.

Not only did the campaign work, increasing funding by 17%, but it also marked the beginning of an arts legacy for the governor.

After signing an increased budget for FY2014, Governor Patrick kept the momentum going when he tripled the state’s allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund. This second bold move paves the way for a continued legacy of support for arts, culture, and creativity in the Commonwealth.

Building on the progress made in the past year, our FY2015 petition asks for a $16 million allocation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget, which would elevate investment in the day-to-day operations of the creative community by $5 million. Go ahead and sign it now.

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Share your story

Massachusetts needs to learn more about the impact the creative community has on our neighborhoods, towns and cities. By telling these stories, we can move the dialogue about creativity from nice to necessary.

Please share your story of how arts and culture impact you and your community and what benefit an increase in state investment would bring to your community. Email your story to our Senior Campaign Organizer, Tracie Konopinski at tkonopinski@mass-creative.org, and we’ll feature it on our blog.

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The year ahead...

The arts, cultural, and creative community had a big year in 2013. Together, we increased the Massachusetts Cultural Council's budget by 17%, influenced Governor Deval Patrick to triple his allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund, and made arts and cultural issues priorities in Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh's platform.

Read the South End News for our opinion piece about the impact of the year's biggest arts advocacy victories and what we're looking forward to in 2014. 

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Share your story

At MASSCreative, one of our priorities is to broadcast the creative community’s stories of impact. With this, we can move the dialogue about creativity from nice to necessary.

Please share your story of how arts education has impacted you and your community by emailing our Senior Campaign Organizer, Tracie Konopinski at tkonopinski@mass-creative.org.

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Art Heals: ArtLifting takes a creative approach to therapy

Sometimes art is the best medicine. For Randy Nicholson, an expressionist painter, art therapy is the most validating way to cope with his troubles. Randy benefits from a free weekly program at Common Art that provides “space, materials and caring support staff to homeless people to develop their artistic abilities.”

With an outlet to create, all Randy is missing is a chance to share his talents with a wider audience. That is where ArtLifting steps in.

Liz and Spencer Powers founded ArtLifting, according to their website, as “a social enterprise that empowers individuals who are in art therapy programs at hospitals and shelters by selling their artwork.”  As a go-between for the artists and the community, ArtLifting transcends the mission of the average gallery. The company provides artists with an opportunity to not only expand their audience, but also for these marginalized populations to get a fair shot at making a living.

On working with ArtLifting, Randy speaks to the true healing power of art:

“Your interest in my work makes me feel validated. Validated. Not ‘validated as an artist’ or anything like that—just validated. This is a new feeling for me…”

For more about this exciting new group, visit ArtLifting’s website and support artists like Randy! 

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Globe Editorial Nails It

Kudos to the Boston Globe editorial board, which just delivered another important message about the arts in yesterday’s editorial, titled “Local arts: It’s big business, after all”: 

Almost everyone would agree that the arts are vital to creating thriving communities. The problem for lawmakers is that it can be hard to justify to constituents that arts programs deserve funds that otherwise might go to police departments or public schools. But arts advocates received some powerful ammunition on Dec. 5 in the form of a preliminary report that states that the arts and culture sector contributed a whopping $504 billion to the American economy in 2011. Leaders across the country — such as Mayor-elect Martin Walsh — should take note. 

You can find a summary of the NEA report with links to the data here.

This editorial is just the latest in a series of strong news and editorial coverage on the arts from the Globe.

Recent stories include:

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Boston Globe: Mayor-elect Walsh’s rhetoric warms officials in arts sector

Working off his recent promises to bring revenue streams and a Cabinet-level commissioner to the arts community, this week, Mayor-elect Marty Walsh added 21 people to the arts and culture team of his transition committee. This represents the next phase in Walsh's commitment to the creative community in Boston.

Geoff Edgers writes in the Globe today about the progress Walsh has made toward becoming "a true partner and advocate in City Hall” to artists. Since election day, Walsh has continued to emphasize the importance of arts and culture in the city:

“The first thing I think it means is a real commitment to the arts in Boston,” said Walsh, “from the local artists in the neighborhood to the Museum of Fine Arts and the bigger institutions and somewhere in between. One group of people who have felt they’ve been left kind of out there, in the lurch, is the arts community. We’ve got a lot of great talented people in the city of Boston.”

Visit the Boston Globe to keep reading about Walsh and his advocacy in the arts community.


Photo credit: Jessica Rinaldi for the Boston Globe


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