BOSTON, May 31, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in Senate Budget

“We are grateful to the Senate for its commitment to arts and culture in the Commonwealth. Last week, the Senate approved a budget that would allocate $16.5 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This would be a much-welcomed and needed 18 percent increase over last year’s investment by the state in arts and culture. We thank the Senate, especially Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka for choosing to step up – not cut – its investment in the arts and cultural sector.

“The Senate also approved a program that would create a dedicated revenue source for the creation of public art. The public art program would dedicate one percent of state appropriations for the construction or renovation of any state-owned, managed, or occupied buildings. A new state art commission would oversee the distribution of the public art funds. More than half the states in the country, including every other New England state, have a program like this in place. We applaud state Senators Eric Lesser, Julian Cyr, Jason Lewis, Adam Hinds, Patrick O'Connor, Joan Lovely and Cynthia Creem for their leadership in championing the public art bill.

“At a time when the Culture Wars have been revived in Washington, and there is talk of dismantling the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we welcome and appreciate this leadership in showing support for the arts in Massachusetts.

“In cities and towns around the state, through projects funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, art is helping to build more vibrant, equitable, and connected communities. It spurs economic activity and enhances education. Art is employed as a tool for improving health and developing resiliency among the young and old alike; people in recovery from addiction; and veterans and their families. But none of this happens without public funding, which ensures that programs and projects in poverty-stricken neighborhoods and rural communities are financed. Public funding also brings stature and attention to otherwise low-profile installations, exhibits, and performances and prevents decisions around what gets produced from being made almost exclusively by those at the top of the socio-economic ladder.

Additionally, arts and cultural businesses and organizations are a vital contributor to the economy in Massachusetts, supporting more than 128,000 jobs, which is more than those generated by transportation and utilities combined, and nearly half of those jobs come from the nonprofit sector supported by the MCC. Arts organizations and local cultural councils in every region of the state provide a diverse array of cultural activities that help our cities and towns to be more attractive to residents and visitors alike. We will be working closely with our champions in the Senate to ensure that the Senate’s recommended increase in funding is preserved as the budget goes through Conference Committee with the House.

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Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works to build a more vibrant, healthy, and equitable Massachusetts. MASSCreative works with artists, leaders, supporters, and partners of the arts, cultural, and creative community to advocate for the resources and support necessary for the sector to thrive. Nearly 400 arts and cultural organizations and working artists from across the Commonwealth are members of MASSCreative. 

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