BOSTON, July 18, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of legislative funding for the Mass Cultural Council.

BOSTON, July 18, 2017— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of legislative funding for the Mass Cultural Council. The veto, if it is not overridden, will result in a 14 percent cut in the Commonwealth’s investment in arts and culture.

“We are deeply dismayed by Gov. Baker’s veto of funding for the Mass Cultural Council approved by lawmakers. If lawmakers do not override the veto, the state will see its investment in arts and culture shrink to $12 million from the recommended $14 million.

“With federal arts spending under attack from the Trump Administration, many states have recognized the need to strengthen their support for the creative sector. Thirty states have chosen to either increase their investment in the arts or maintain current spending levels even in the face of weak revenues. If this veto stands, Massachusetts would bear the third largest percentage cut to the arts in the nation, behind only Rhode Island and North Carolina.

“In Boston, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $1.4 billion of economic activity during 2015—$763.9 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $590.2 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 45,889 jobs and generated $87.3 million in revenue to local and state governments. This impact is replicated in cities and towns around the state, through projects funded in part by the Mass Cultural Council.

“The potential impact of a 14 percent cut will not be limited to shrinking economics. The Mass Cultural Council funds cultural councils across the state that run arts festivals and concerts that bring people together. It also runs grant programs that expand access to the arts for everyone in the Commonwealth, foster economic growth, and educate our kids. Many of those who benefit the most from Mass Cultural Council programs live in some of our most challenged and under-resourced communities.

“The arts community supports and enriches Massachusetts. We urge lawmakers to override Gov. Baker’s veto of Mass Cultural Council funding and restore its recommendation of $14 million for the Mass Cultural Council in the FY18 Budget.”

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MASSCreative Statement on FY18 Conference Committee Budget

BOSTON, July 7, 2017—Today, the legislature voted to approve the conference committee budget for Fiscal Year 2018, including level funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council at $14 million. This amount falls short of the increase requested by advocates for art, culture, and creativity throughout the Commonwealth, and the funding recommendation of the Senate, which approved a $2.5 million funding increase for the Mass Cultural Council in the spring. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson released the following statement: 

“We are deeply disappointed with the conference committee budget, and we will keep advocating for public investment in art, culture, and creativity in the Commonwealth through its funding for the Mass Cultural Council. 

“In Boston, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $1.4 billion of economic activity during 2015—$763.9 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $590.2 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 45,889 jobs and generated $87.3 million in revenue to local and state governments. This impact is replicated in cities and towns around the state, through projects funded in part by the Mass 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 need leadership and support here in Massachusetts. We urge Governor Baker to approve $14 million in funding for the Mass Cultural Council when he signs the FY18 Budget."

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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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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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