BOSTON, May 16, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in Senate Ways & Means Committee Budget:

“We applaud the Senate Ways & Means Committee’s recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture in FY18 at $16.5 million. This would be an 18 percent increase over last year’s investment by the state in the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 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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BOSTON, April 26, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on House Ways and Means Budget for Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council:

“We are deeply disappointed with the budget approved by the House, which calls for a 13 percent cut in funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. That would lower the state’s investment in arts and culture from $14.1 million to $12.1 million. 

“With the Trump Administration proposing the elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, now is not the time to step back from our commitment to the arts. We need local leaders to step up. The support of Governor Baker, who proposed a modest increase to the MCC budget, and that of the 116 representatives who supported an amendment to increase MCC funding to $16 million, shows that there is a bipartisan appetite for such leadership.

“Here in Massachusetts, arts and cultural businesses and organizations are a vital contributor to the economy, 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 also provide a diverse array of cultural activities that help our cities and towns to be more attractive to residents and visitors alike; promotes educational programming that helps students of all abilities to excel across all academic disciplines; and builds more vibrant, connected and equitable communities. Finally, public investment in the arts ensures that art is accessible to all—young and old; rich and poor; urban and rural; and every race and ethnicity. 

“We look forward to working with arts leaders in the Massachusetts Senate as they build their state budget to increase the state’s investment in the MCC to $16 million.”

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BOSTON, April 10, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on House Ways & Means Committee Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in State Budget:

“Lawmakers recognize the tremendous value of arts and culture in the Commonwealth. That’s why they have approved steady increases in funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council over the last five years. Today’s recommendation by the House Ways and Means Committee to fund the MCC, which makes grants to arts institutions and local cultural councils across the state, at $10 million is a deeply disappointing step back from that community investment, and represents a 28 percent cut from last year’s funding for the MCC.

“Adding to our disappointment is that this recommendation comes just a few short weeks after 600 artists, cultural leaders, and arts supporters turned out for Arts Matter Advocacy Day at the State House to rally for public investment in the arts. Across the state, from Williamstown to Provincetown, community-based arts organizations are improving the quality of life in all 351 of our cities and towns by creating events and places where people want to gather and connect. They are also driving local economies, and creating educational opportunities, particularly in under-resourced communities.

“At a time when the Culture Wars have been revived in Washington, and the Trump Administration has proposed eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we need to look to our local leadership to show support for the arts in Massachusetts. Governor Baker, in proposing a modest increase to the MCC budget, showed that there’s a bipartisan place for such leadership. Democracy starts at home, and it’s important that policymakers and legislators understand the value of investing in the arts and cultural sector, and our creative communities.

“We urge lawmakers to support state Representative and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Cory Atkins’s amendment #6 calling for a $2 million increased investment in the arts for a total appropriation of $16 million. This will ensure the ability of arts institutions and local cultural councils in every region of the state to provide the diverse array of cultural activities that help our cities and towns to be more attractive to residents and visitors alike; promotes educational programming that helps students of all abilities to excel across all academic disciplines; and builds more vibrant, connected and equitable communities.” 

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Arts Matter Advocacy Day To Be Held March 28; 350 Arts and Cultural Leaders and Supporters Expected to March to State House to Meet with Legislators

March 21, 2017―MASSCreative announces that it will hold its second Arts Matter Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 28. Artists, cultural leaders, and advocates will gather at the Paramount Center in downtown Boston from 10-12:30am and hear from speakers including Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College and state Rep. Mary Keefe (D-Worcester), a member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development. David Howse, Executive Director of ArtsEmerson will emcee the event. Other speakers will include: Sarah Stackhouse, Chair of Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee; Barbara Grossman, faculty member in the Drama and Dance Department at Tufts University and Vice-chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC); Deborah Greel, Public Art Planner, City of Salem; and Myran Parker-Brass, Executive Director for the Arts, Boston Public Schools.

At 12:45 pm, the group will hold an “Arts Matter March” to the State House. Arts advocates will meet with lawmakers at the State House to talk about the importance of arts and culture to local communities. More than 100 organizations and artists have signed up as co-sponsors of Arts Matter Advocacy Day.

“At a time when the Culture Wars have been revived in Washington, and the Trump Administration has proposed eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we need to look to our local leadership to show support for the arts in Massachusetts,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. “Across the state, from Williamstown to Provincetown, community-based arts organizations are improving the quality of life in all 351 of our cities and towns by creating events and places where people want to gather and connect. They are also driving local economies, and creating educational opportunities, particularly in under-resourced communities. Democracy starts at home, and it’s important that policymakers and legislators understand the value of investing in the arts and cultural sector, and our creative communities.”

Arts Matter Advocacy Day supports MASSCreative’s campaigns to increase the MCC budget, establish a public art program at state owned properties, and increase student participation in arts education. On January 25, Gov. Baker released his FY2018 budget with a recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture at $14.3 million. In the coming weeks, the House and Senate will release their respective budgets. Because of the positive impact that arts and culture has on the quality of life in every community across the Commonwealth, as the budget process proceeds to the Legislature, we will urge lawmakers to support a $16 million allocation for the arts in Massachusetts.

Follow #AMAD17 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the conversation.

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MASSCreative praises draft regulations for new state education standards that include arts ed

BOSTON, February 8, 2017—MASSCreative today praised the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for including arts education in the Commonwealth’s draft plan for new accountability standards. The standards were written in response to a new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the federal law that has guided the nation’s educational system for the last two decades.

Passed in late 2015 in a rare show of bipartisanship, ESSA includes instruction in the arts in the federal definition of a “well-rounded education.” In preparation for implementation of ESSA for the 2017-18 academic year, each state must revise its accountability plan for school districts to reflect this new definition. In addition to test scores, accountability standards must include other indicators of school quality, such as measures of participation in arts instruction.

“This proposal puts arts education squarely in the core curriculum for schools and students. By measuring participation of students in arts education from grades K-12 as criteria for school success, state leaders have recognized the impact that that arts have on college readiness, school climate, and teaching our kids valuable 21st century skills. This marks a bold step forward for educating the ‘whole child’ after 20 years of an ever-narrowing curriculum,” said Matt Wilson, MASSCreative’s Executive Director.

The draft plan was written after DESE engaged in six months of research and outreach to stakeholders throughout the state. It identifies lack of arts education participation by six percent of elementary and middle school students and 50 percent of high school students, as one of the state’s current educational challenges. It includes “the arts” as a core subject area, along with civics and foreign languages. It recommends “access to the arts” as an accountability measure for all students, and “improvement in access to the arts” as an accountability measure for high needs students.

The public will have 30 days to comment on the draft plan released today, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote on the proposal at its March 28 meeting. The plan can be found at http://www.mass.gov/edu/docs/ese/accountability/annual-reports/essa-state-plan-draft.docx and comments can be e-mailed to ESSA@doe.mass.edu.

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BOSTON, January 25, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Gov. Baker’s Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in State Budget:

“We applaud Governor Charlie Baker’s recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture in FY18 at $14.3 million. This is a 2 percent increase over last year’s investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council by the state. 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.

“Because of the positive impact that arts and culture has on the quality of life in every community across the Commonwealth, as the budget process proceeds to the Legislature, we will urge lawmakers to support a $2 million increased investment in the arts. This will ensure the ability of arts institutions and local cultural councils in every region of the state to provide the diverse array of cultural activities that help our cities and towns to be more attractive to residents and visitors alike; promotes educational programming that helps students of all abilities to excel across all academic disciplines; and builds more vibrant, connected and equitable communities.”

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BOSTON, January 13, 2017— Statement by Matt Wilson, MASSCreative Executive Director on Gov. Charlie Baker’s Signing of Measure Permitting City of New Bedford To Create a Dedicated Arts Fund From a Portion of the City’s Hotel Tax:

“We applaud New Bedford municipal leaders for creating a dedicated fund for arts and culture, and also applaud Gov. Baker for supporting this measure. New Bedford receives approximately $70,000 annually in state funding for the arts, and dedicating a portion of the city’s hotel tax to an arts, culture, and tourism fund will raise an additional $100,000 for the city’s cultural initiatives. Combining state funding with municipal investment creates the best possible partnership to ensure that local arts and cultural institutions have the resources they need to thrive.

“It is no accident that in 2016, New Bedford saw the sharpest drop in rates of unemployment among urban areas around the country. Incorporating arts and culture into city planning, as New Bedford does, contributes to the health of a city across all sectors from education to community building to the economy. New Bedford is setting a high bar for other Gateway Cities around the Commonwealth.”

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Street Pianos Boston State House Opening Ceremony to Take Place Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 1 pm

Join State Legislators, MASSCreative and Celebrity Series of Boston
at Ashburton Park to Celebrate Street Pianos Boston

Boston, MA September 21, 2016 - On Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 1p.m. at Ashburton Park, State Representatives Jay Kaufman and Cory Atkins will join with Celebrity Series of Boston and MASSCreative to officially open up the piano at the State House, part of the public art installation Street Pianos Boston. 

Gary Dunning, executive director of Celebrity Series of Boston and Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative will join the legislators for the official unveiling. Musical entertainment will be provided by State Representative Jay Kaufman, one of the first to test out the ivories of the piano at Ashburton Park.

From September 23 – October 10, 2016, sixty pianos, created by local artists, will be placed in public outdoor space in every Boston neighborhood and select Cambridge locations for the public to play and enjoy. Each piano will feature a simple invitation: “Play Me, I’m Yours.” 

Celebrity Series of Boston first produced the installation in Boston in 2013 when more than 500,000 people across the city engaged with Street Pianos Boston, sharing music and song in a citywide festival.

In 2016, the Freedom Trail will figure prominently in the Street Pianos Boston installation. In addition to the piano located at the Massachusetts State House, pianos will be found at King’s Chapel on Beacon Hill, at the Old North Church in the North End of Boston and in the Charlestown Navy Yard, near the U.S.S. Constitution. 

What: Opening Event for 2016 Street Pianos Boston,
Produced by Celebrity Series of Boston 

Where: Ashburton Park, Beacon Hill, Boston

Who: Representative Cory Atkins
Representative Jay Kaufman
Celebrity Series President & Executive Director Gary Dunning
MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson

When: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Contact: Matt Wilson, Executive Director, MASSCreative
617-515-2326
mwilson@mass-creative.org

For more information about Street Pianos Boston visit www.streetpianosboston.org

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BOSTON, July 31, 2016— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Legislature’s Override of Gov. Baker’s Veto of 55% of Funding for Massachusetts Cultural Council

“We applaud the Massachusetts Legislature―particularly Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and our legislative champions, Senators Dan Wolf and Eric Lesser and Representatives William “Smitty” Pignatelli and Cory Atkins―for overriding Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of more than half of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s budget. When the news of Gov. Baker’s veto broke, the arts community was shocked, but quickly moved to action. We sent more than 12,000 messages to lawmakers requesting an override of the governor’s veto. Every single lawmaker heard from a constituent on this issue, and 135 lawmakers signed a letter and committed to the override. 

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MASSCreative statement on city of Boston arts and culture plan

BOSTON, June 17, 2016―Today, the city of Boston released “Boston Creates: A Time for Action,” a cultural plan for the city. It was created after gathering public input over a one-year period, and is a 10-year roadmap for creating a more culturally vibrant city. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson offered the following statement in response: 

“We applaud Mayor Marty Walsh for the creation of this plan. It is a strong show of support for the arts, which was a central theme of his mayoral campaign. We also applaud the widespread involvement of the city’s creative communities in this planning process, which saw the direct involvement of more than 5,000 people. This confirms what the arts community has long known: there is a great hunger within the city to maximize the potential of the arts to build and strengthen our neighborhoods, schools, and economic health. 

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