Today’s guest post comes from Laurie M. Werner, Director of Advancement for the Berkshire Museum. Laurie has nearly 20 years’ experience in management and development for nonprofit cultural institutions, and holds a Ph. D. in Economics.
This past year, the Berkshire Museum has been participating in the “Arts Matter” and “Create the Vote” initiatives of MASSCreative, the nonpartisan statewide advocacy organization. The goal of these efforts is to ensure that the arts and humanities are a priority on the public agenda.
Candidates celebrate Arts Matter Day
On Friday, October 24, the creative community made their voice heard, earning attention from gubernatorial candidates and the media.
In celebration of Arts Matter Day, gubernatorial candidates Charlie Baker, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, and Jeff McCormick all made strides in elevating arts and culture in their campaigns.
Martha Coakley visited the old Victory Theatre in Holyoke on Friday to announce her arts and cultural platform. In her platform, Coakley commended the creative economy’s strength as an economic driver for Massachusetts, saying that she would leverage these economic benefits and work with the state Legislature to double Massachusetts Cultural Council funding and build on Gov. Patrick’s support for the Cultural Facilities Fund. Coakley also expressed her commitment to arts education and that she would “promote expanded learning opportunities and facilitate a shift from STEM to STEAM”. Read the details of Martha Coakley’s platform and check out the Springfield Republican’s coverage of her announcement at the Victory Theatre.
Charlie Baker shared his response to the Create the Vote Questionnaire on Arts, Culture, and Creativity. Baker writes about the importance of arts education in a well-rounded education, saying that he would “work to ensure wide access to the arts in public schools.” To support the creative economy, Baker would promote public-private partnerships to increase investment in the creative economy and lower taxes and ease small business regulations to “help the creative economy by making it easier to start and grow their businesses.” Read Charlie Baker’s full response to the Create the Vote questionnaire on our site.
Jeff McCormick was inspired to add his voice to the conversation on Arts Matter Day, releasing his own Arts Matter video. On why arts matter to him, McCormick said, "In many communities, art and artists have been at the leading edge of change - revitalizing a neighborhood, giving a community a reason to exist and a cause for celebration."
MASSCreative has also received Evan Falchuk’s Create the Vote questionnaire, which can be read on our site. Back in May, leaders from the Create the Vote coalition met with Falchuk to discuss the role of arts and culture in his campaign.
Get out the vote!
Together, we’ve put arts and culture on the political map. Over the past eight months, the Create the Vote coalition has elevated the issues of arts, culture, and creativity in the race for governor and MA House and Senate. And last Friday, over 450 arts and cultural organizations participated in Arts Matter Day, making a bold statement that arts matter in Massachusetts and should matter in this election.
Now, we all need to make sure the creative community turns out to vote on Tuesday, November 4.
Here’s what you can do in the final days leading up to November 4.
Show that arts matter to you and should matter in this election by taking the #ArtsMatter pledge.
Check out the candidates’ positions on arts and culture as you decide how to cast your vote on November 4.
Check out our sample emails, newsletter blurb, graphic, and social media posts and help spread the word.
Arts Matter Day by the numbers
On Arts Matter Day, the creative community amplified their voice to send a singular message: arts matter. That message reached a wide audience, traveling statewide and uniting creative communities.
In numbers, our impact is clear. One day of action led to:
Check out Arts Matter videos and photos.
Together, we created a conversation that mattered. Through videos, pictures, words, and – of course – ART, the creative community lent their voices to the discussion. See firsthand what people had to say in our storify.
From Worcester to Duxbury: Arts Matter
In celebration of the myriad of cultural happenings in Massachusetts, the MASSCreative team hit the road to see how arts organizations around the state were celebrating Arts Matter Day, their way.
Boston – On the eve of Arts Matter Day, MASSCreative joined Create the Vote coalition partner, ZUMIX, and other youth arts groups for Teen Night – an evening geared towards the teen crowd at the Institute of Contemporary Art. MASSCreative hung out with the young museum-goers, taking Arts Matter pictures and asking why arts matter to them. The ICA Teens groups provided free admittance to teens, and conducted interactive projects in the main lobby, including an especially popular activity: fort building. Later in the evening, teen groups performed, including some of ZUMIX’s talented crew, Miyagi and the Kids and Nick Shea.
October 20, 2014—MASSCreative announced today that arts and cultural leaders in Malden met with candidate for state representative Steve Ultrino to discuss the candidate’s vision for the creative community in the 33rd Middlesex House District.
Ultrino, a Malden City Councilor, described the importance of a strong partnership between elected officials and the arts community, saying that in a city as diverse as Malden, the arts are an important way for different populations to express their culture and creativity.
During the discussion, Ultrino also voiced his support for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), citing Window Arts Malden as a great example of how MCC grants can stimulate connection in downtown neighborhoods. Window Arts Malden is an annual event in which downtown storefronts and other sites in Malden display the work of local artists. “As [someone] who has seen first-hand the benefits of these grants in my community, I would fight to maintain and increase MCC funding,” Ultrino said.
The candidate discussed his long history as an educator, stating that he supported making the arts an essential subject for students. Ultrino said that his experiences as a high school teacher and working as the Director of Education at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department showed him firsthand the positive impact arts programs can make. “Giving [inmates] a voice [through art] not only aides their mental health and personal development, but it also enables them to contribute their ideas to help others,” Ultrino said.
When plans were first hatched to open the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, better known as MASS MoCA, in North Adams, the former mill city in the Berkshires “was at the edge of a socio-economic abyss,” says Joseph Thompson, the museum’s founding director.
It was 1986. A year before, Sprague Electric Company had shuttered the manufacturing plant that employed more than one-third of North Adams’s roughly 16,000 residents. The once-bustling blue-collar city was reduced to a shell.
“In the late eighties and early nineties, anybody that could get out, got out of North Adams,” adds Jonathan Secor, director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
That’s not surprising given that unemployment in North Adams was pushing 18 percent—about seven times the state average at the time. That was reflected in the downtown area, where vacant storefronts outnumbered operating businesses, which occupied just 30 percent of the available spaces. Meanwhile, the factory complex that had once housed Sprague Electric sprawled across 16 acres of downtown real estate—all of which was empty.
“It cast a huge real estate shadow over the town,” says Thompson. “It was impossible to think of a vibrant North Adams without doing something with this factory complex which occupied a great part of the downtown business district.”
As Boston Magazine reports, "An aggressive campaign will sweep across the state beginning Friday to keep gubernatorial hopefuls informed about the importance of artistic creativity in Massachusetts."
The Arts Matter campaign is giving the community a collective voice; from all across the state, individuals and arts organizations are being heard. Boston Magazine notes, “In what’s being described as a “tsunami of activism,” organizations across the state will also include brief explanations about the #ArtsMatter campaign prior to their events taking place.” Momentum is building thanks to the grassroots efforts of the creative community.
MASSCreative highlights this grassroots engagement through dozens of Arts Matter videos featuring personal stories to anecdotally show how the arts impact our communities. MASSCreative’s Executive Director, Matt Wilson wants to convey this importance to our elected leaders, “they don’t generally understand that it’s a necessary factor in driving our economy, and educating kids and building livable communities where we want to work and play,” said Wilson. “Part of this campaign is an educational piece to start shifting that narrative.”
Be a part of Arts Matter Day and the Arts Matter movement on Friday, October 24, 2014. Here’s how you can get involved.
Arts Matter Day of Action
Next Friday, October 24th is Arts Matter Day and we want to invite you to celebrate with the Massachusetts’ arts, cultural, and creative community.
We all know that arts matter - they drive our economy, they enhance education, they help build vibrant and connected communities.
Join more than 200 arts and cultural organizations for this Arts Matter Day of Action and share why arts matter to you. All of our actions will create a huge buzz to show that arts matter in MA and matter in the November 4 election.
Here are the most important ways you can engage: