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.
Arts and cultural leaders led the charge in the lobbying effort by meeting with legislators to share stories of how arts matter in their communities. This budget season, the creative community has held 14 community meetings with over 500 community members and 33 legislators.
- Pittsfield: Megan Whilden of the City of Pittsfield and Berkshire Creative organized a meeting with State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier.
- Medford: Maria Daniels of Medford Arts Council and Susan Fairchild of CACHE in Medford organized a meeting with State Senators Pat Jehlen and Paul Donato, and State Representatives Carl Sciortino and Sean Garballey.
- Jamaica Plain and Brookline: Anne Sasser of Stonybrook Fine Arts and Norah Dooley of massmouth organized a meeting with State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez.
- Fenway: Kelly Brilliant of Fenway Alliance and Nicky Enriquez of Mary Baker Eddy Library organized a meeting with State Senator William Brownsberger and State Representatives Byron Rushing, Gloria Fox, and Jay Livingstone.
- Cape: Kevin Howard of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod held another great Creative Collaborative Conference with Senate President Therese Murray, State Senator Dan Wolf, and State Representatives Cleon Turner, Brian Mannal, Randy Hunt, David Vieira, Timothy Madden and Sarah Peake.
- New Bedford: Noelle Foye of New Bedford Art Museum/Art Works! , organized a meeting with State Senator Mark Montigny, and State Representatives Antonio Cabral and Paul Schmid.
- Wenham: Mary Hierholzer, student at Gordon College, organized a meeting with State Representative Bradford Hill.
- Stockbridge: Hope Sullivan of IS183 organized a meeting with State Representative Smitty Pignatelli.
- Duxbury: Kathy Czerny of the South Shore Conservatory organized a meeting with Senate President Therese Murray, and State Representative Josh Cutler.
- Fitchburg: Bill McSheehy of Fitchburg Historical Society and the Fitchburg Cultural Alliance organized a meeting with State Representative Stephen DiNatale.
- Watertown: Bridget O’Leary, Harriet Sheets, and Jim Petosa of New Rep Theater, Alan Casso and Paddy Swanson of Revels, and Sharon Glennon of Arsenal Center for the Arts organized a meeting with State Representative Jonathan Hecht and Brendon Berger from Senator Barrett’s office.
- Littleton: Susan Randazzo of Indian Hill Music organized a meeting with State Senators Eileen Donaghue and Jamie Eldridge, and State Representatives Sheila Harrington and Jennifer Benson
- North Adams: Bill Kolis and Phil and Gail Sellers organized a meeting with State Representative Gail Cariddi.
- South End, Boston: Ellie Pabon-Szebeda of Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, Anne Norton of the Boston Center for the Arts, Ron Mallis of Boston APP/Lab, and Akshata Kadagathur of Boston Arts Academy organized a meeting with State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and State Representatives Byron Rushing and Aaron Michlewitz.
These meetings have helped to create a buzz in local newspapers and local television networks. Check out these op-eds by Kit Jenkins of RAW Art Works in the Lynn Daily Item, Suzanne LoManto of RiverCulture in the Greenfield Recorder, Lee Heald of AHA! New Bedford and Noelle Foye of New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! in The Standard-Times, and Alexandra Kennedy of the Eric Carle Museum in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
A special shout out to the Greg Jenkins and Somerville Arts Council, Nave Gallery and local creative folks in Somerville who painted eggs in homage to the importance of arts funding. You can read more about this colorful project on our blog. Earlier this month, Heather Balchunas and Rachel Strutt of Somerville Arts Council and Joanne Hillman of Winthrop Cultural Council delivered these eggs to the House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey and the Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.
The best news is that the process in not over. The Senate will release its budget on Wednesday, May 14, and we will have another opportunity to reverse the cuts and work to increase the state’s investment in the creative community. Look out for our action alert coming out tomorrow on how you can continue to make your voice heard.