Create the Vote 2014: Electing a Governor Who is a Champion of the Arts
The race to elect the next governor of Massachusetts is picking up steam, and so is the Create the Vote campaign. The MASSCreative-led Create the Vote coalition, a growing coalition of more than 200 arts, cultural, and creative institutions, has kicked off its work with a series of regional meetings across the Commonwealth. It has brought local leaders from creative communities in Boston, Cape Cod, the Berkshires, Metro West, North Shore, Pioneer Valley, South Shore, Worcester, and the South Coast together to discuss elevating arts and culture in the gubernatorial election.
The Berkshire Eagle attended the Create the Vote meeting at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and reported on the community’s commitment to elevating the arts in the governor’s race:
If it’s made apparent that many voters care about arts, culture and creativity, politicians will make it a priority in order to get elected, [MASSCreative Executive Director Matt] Wilson said, which has obvious implications for the Nov. 4 gubernatorial election.
This past month, we sent out Create the Vote questionnaires to the gubernatorial candidates. So far, five candidates have gotten back to us: Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Steve Grossman, and Juliette Kayyem. The questionnaire consists of seven core questions developed by leaders of the arts and cultural community here in the Commonwealth.
All of the candidates stressed the importance of transforming STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educational initiatives into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). Each of the candidates also stressed the need for the next governor’s administration to promote public-private partnerships to spur investment in arts and culture. You can read more on the Create the Vote blog.
House Cuts MCC by 13% - Senate Budget Up Next
On April 30, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved its budget that cut the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget 13% to a level of $9.6 million. This is a $1.5 million cut from last year’s $11.1 million budget. This cut happened despite 113 legislators - one of only two to get a House majority - supporting Rep. Cory Atkins’ amendment to increase the Commonwealth’s investment in the arts and cultural community to $16 million.
The good news is that over the past three weeks, due to the grassroots support from all of you, we successfully bumped up the budget 88% over the $5.1 million originally recommended by the House Ways and Means Committee on April 9.
The creative community raised its voice in unison -- generating more than 2,000 emails in 48 hours to secure the 113 co-sponsors, using social media to educate the public, and making hundreds of calls into the State House on Tuesday when the House was deliberating.
Pushing for Increased Investment in Our Cultural Facilities
The creative community celebrated a victory this November, when Governor Patrick chose to triple his annual allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund from $5 million to $15 million. The governor’s announcement followed a four-month advocacy campaign led by the creative community, which involved over 200 arts and cultural institutions, mayors and chambers of commerce and over 1200 individuals across Massachusetts. The community clearly supports the Cultural Facilities Fund and understands the impact our cultural institutions have on our communities and our economy.
As the legislature considers the reauthorization of the Fund for another five years, MASSCreative is working to make sure that arts and cultural leaders are included in the conversation.
On April 24, the Senate Committee on Bonding held a public hearing on the bill. MASSCreative’s Senior Campaign Organizer, Tracie Konopinski was joined by Jay Paget from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Josiah Spaulding from Citi Performing Arts Center, and Wendy Lament from Wheelock Family Theatre to testify on a panel before the Committee in support of reauthorizing the Cultural Facilities Fund for another five years. We also urged the Committee to increase the authorization from $50 million to $75 million so that the work of the creative community can continue at the level that the governor set in November with his $15 million allocation.