Legislature Increases Investment in the Arts by $1 Million
After six months of emails, negotiations, and face-to-face meetings, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a state budget last week which included a $12 million allocation to the arts, cultural, and creative community through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) budget.
This 8% increase in the FY2015 Massachusetts Cultural Council provides the Commonwealth with an additional $1 million to invest in our arts and cultural institutions, our working artists and our arts educators.
Back in April, the House Ways and Means Committee shocked the creative community by proposing a 54% cut to the MCC budget. In response, the community fought back and made clear to our political leaders that funding the creative community isn’t just nice but necessary.
What began as a $5.1 million allocation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council is now officially $12 million, two and half times the original House Ways and Means proposal and a $1 million increase over last year’s budget.
Governor Awards $14 million Grants for Cultural Facilities at 129 Institutions
At the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield yesterday during a celebration marking grants to 129 institutions from the Cultural Facilities Fund, Governor Deval Patrick announced that his administration would invest another $15 million in the fund next year! From 2007, when the fund was founded, through 2012, the Cultural Facilities Fund was allocated approximately $5 million annually. In 2013, after a grassroots campaign titled “Invest the Rest,” Gov. Patrick tripled the annual allocation to $15 million.
Grants from the fund are used to repair and rebuild aging cultural venues that serve arts organizations, schools, and communities across the Commonwealth. The need for these grants is high among the state’s hundreds of cultural institutions, and requests continues to outpace supply. This year, proposals for $50 million in grants were submitted--more than three times the funds available.
“Investments in our creative economy stimulate growth and opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick. “Through this new round of funding, we are continuing to create a more vibrant place for our students to learn, our families to live and our businesses to grow.”
The grants include 81 capital projects and another 48 planning projects. A full list can be found online here. Congratulations to all the recipients of the grants and to all the communities that these cultural venues serve.
Gubernatorial Candidates to Participate in First Ever Statewide Debate on Arts, Culture, and Creativity
Six gubernatorial candidates for Governor will meet on July 15th at Worcester’s Hanover Theatre to discuss and debate the role and priority that arts and culture will play in their administration.
The first ever statewide debate focused on the arts is sponsored by MASSCreative and Create the Vote, a coalition of more than 250 arts and cultural institutions across the Commonwealth.
“Over the next four months, the race to elect the next Governor of Massachusetts will provide candidates and voters the opportunity to discuss the strengths and challenges of the Commonwealth and debate how we can strengthen the economy, improve our schools, and make our communities healthier and safer,” said Matt Wilson, Director of MASSCreative. “Working with this broad statewide coalition, Create the Vote is going to ensure that arts, culture, and creativity are part of this important debate and discussion.”
This Forum will be a signature event of the campaign where the candidates will have the opportunity to discuss their vision for arts and culture in the Commonwealth. The event, moderated by Emmy Award-winning Arts & Entertainment Critic Joyce Kulhawik and co-sponsored by 250+ organizations, will be held July 15 from 6-7:30 PM at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester. A reception for the entire creative community will be held beforehand at 4:30 PM. come early to network and catch up with your creative peers from across the state.
You can RSVP here.
Arts Are Present at Parties' Political Conventions
For the first time ever, the arts community had a presence at the annual Republican and Democratic Conventions in Massachusetts.
The conventions held this spring by both parties bring together thousands of local delegates who coordinate political activity in their towns. These leaders drive the grassroots work to push both candidates and issues in their town.
“Reaching out to delegates in the parties at their convention gives us the opportunity to tell our stories of the impact of the creative community to the people who drive grassroots politics and issues across the state,” said Matt Wilson, Executive Director of MASSCreative. “Showing the delegates and the candidates for Governor that arts matter is a key step towards bringing more resources and support to the creative community.”
In March, MASSCreative handed out thousands of leaflets to Republican delegates who nominated Charlie Baker as their nominee for Governor this fall. MASSCreative followed up that work with a sit down meeting with Baker and 12 leaders of the creative community to talk policy.
Three weeks ago in Worcester, a dozen MASSCreative staff and volunteers blanketed the Democratic Convention there with leaflets to delegates and candidates alike.
Youth and staff from ZUMIX, an organization serving under resources youth and neighborhoods in East Boston, recruited 200 delegates to sign the ‘Arts Matter’ pledge which urges candidates to include arts in their campaign platforms. ZUMIX youth also took videos and photo petitions of delegates as they talked about why arts mattered to them.
From 0 to $13K: How the Medford Arts Council Used Grassroots Support to Boost Arts Funding
Photo: Josh Perry/Hometown Weekly
Late last year, the Medford City Council and Mayor Michael J. McGlynn allocated $13,000 in the city budget for arts programming. It was the first time in Maria Daniels’s six-year tenure on the Medford Arts Council that City Hall dedicated any money at all to the arts. For a small city like Medford, the move was an extraordinary show of support for the work that the arts council routinely engages in to enrich and enliven the Boston suburb.
But that’s not all the good news. McGlynn recently announced that he would add a $15,000 arts line item to his Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal, demonstrating the city’s renewed investment in the arts in a more permanent way. The Medford City Council still has to approve the budget before it can take effect. But the ongoing support from the mayor and many city councilors has encouraged and excited local arts advocates.
The investment by the city of Medford shows a clear example to other municipalities cross the Commonwealth of the need to invest in the arts. (The Town of Medfield also voted at their spring Town Meeting to add $4,600 to the Medfield Cultural Council budget, matching the MCC’s annual contribution to the town and doubling the amount of grants they can make to their local arts community.)
So how did the Medford Arts Council get city officials to put arts and culture back on their agenda?
In a recent interview, Daniels, the council’s chair and interim treasurer, offered up three keys to their triumph: a good political strategy, coalition and relationship building with local allies, and publicizing their cause. In other words, good old-fashioned grassroots advocacy.
The Arts Factor: Adding up the Impact of Arts and Culture in Massachusetts
On June 10, ArtsBoston released a new report titled “The Arts Factor 2014 Report” which quantifies the impact of arts, culture, and creativity on the Greater Boston region. Click here for a lot of cool graphics such as how much money the sector pumps into the economy and how many people attend arts events annually.
Using information from the Massachusetts Cultural Data Project, which collects data about the arts and cultural sector, ArtsBoston found that arts and cultural organizations in the Greater Boston region support 26,000 jobs and account for $1 billion of economic activity. More than 18 million people attend arts events annually, which is more than four times the total combined attendance for the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, and Boston Celtics.
Click here for Boston Globe coverage of the report.