MASSCreative praises Walsh Administration for Investment in Arts

BOSTON, April 12, 2019—MASSCreative applauds Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his administration for affirming the city’s support of the Office of Arts and Culture and the necessity of public investment in art, creativity, and culture in the FY2020 budget released April 10. As significant private grants that once funded a portion of the Office of Arts and Culture budget have expired, the city of Boston has increased its funding for the office by 37 percent. The investment will ensure continuation of the important work that the Office of Arts and Culture oversees, including the development and implementation of policies and grants that support artists, public art installations, and the innovative artist-in-residence program. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement in response:

“We’re excited to see this increase in funding for the Office of Arts and Culture by the city of Boston. Public funding of art, culture, and creativity means that more people of all ages, incomes, races, and backgrounds—including those from marginalized groups that are otherwise not served by private funders—will have opportunities to express themselves creatively, participate in arts activities, and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression.

“Boston’s artist-in-residence program is a striking example of the ways in which publicly-funded art can illuminate and enhance important public policy goals related to recovery from substance use, climate change, public safety, and racial equity. Other investments, including grants to artists and support for public art projects, strengthen communities by employing art to deepen relationships across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that other efforts at civic engagement cannot.”

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Artists, Arts and Cultural Leaders, and Supporters to March and Meet with Legislators on Arts Advocacy Day March 26

March 5, 2019―MASSCreative announces that Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day will be held Tuesday, March 26 at Emerson Paramount Center in downtown Boston from 9am-1pm. Artists, cultural leaders, and supporters from around the state will gather for a fun and inspiring program featuring speakers, performers. and training in legislative advocacy. At 1pm, the group will hold an “Arts Matter March” to the State House and meet with lawmakers to advocate for political support of art, culture, and creativity.

Speakers at the Emerson Paramount Center will include state Rep. Mary Keefe (D-Worcester), who is Co-Chair of the Cultural Caucus, State Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Lowell0, Chair of the Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee, Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer, City of Worcester, and David Howse, Executive Director, ArtsEmerson.

Creativity Connects: Arts Advocacy Day supports MASSCreative’s campaigns to build a Commonwealth where arts and creativity are an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life by:

  • increasing public investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • ensuring that every student from K-12 receives quality, sequential arts education
  • strengthening policies that support working artists, including access to affordable housing and healthcare and local zoning that permits live/work spaces
  • integrating art therapy in rehabilitation, recovery, anti-violence, and other wellness programs
  • revitalizing downtowns and main streets via public art, cultural districts, and creative placemaking

“Across the Commonwealth, artists, creative entrepreneurs, and nonprofit arts organizations strengthen communities, drive local economies, and change the lives of participants and audience-goers alike,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson. “None of this happens by accident. It’s the result of planning, participation, and investment. It’s important that legislators understand all of the good work taking place in their districts as they work on the budget and policy proposals that shape the creative economy.”

On January 23, Gov. Baker released his FY 2020 budget with a recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture at $16.1 million, which is the same level as last year’s allocation. In the coming months, 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, MASSCreative will urge lawmakers to support an $18 million allocation for the arts in Massachusetts.

More than 100 organizations and artists have signed up as co-sponsors of Creativity Connects: MASSCreative Arts Advocacy Day.

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

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BOSTON, January 23, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Gov. Baker’s Recommended Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council in State Budget

“Today, Governor Baker proposed funding the Massachusetts Cultural Council (Mass Cultural Council) at $16.1 million, which is the same level as last year’s allocation. Given the powerful impact that art, culture, and creativity have on our communities, we will continue to advocate for the previously requested $18 million.

“Nonprofit creative organizations drive the state’s local economies from Boston to the Berkshires and every rural and coastal region in between. They generate over $2.3 billion dollars in economic activity annually, including $97 million in local and state tax revenue. They also support 73,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

“The requested $2 million increase will fund arts, humanities, and science programs for underserved youth and the 329 Local Cultural Councils located throughout the state. Last year, these councils helped fund approximately 6,000 projects that connected communities and residents throughout the state. Mass Cultural Council grantees also provided creative youth development and educational opportunities to 102,403 students.

“None of these benefits to our communities and young people occur incidentally. We reap them when we deliberately choose to invest in artists, cultural organizations, and arts education. We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate as the FY2020 budget process proceeds.”

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MASSCreative Statement on Question 3

November 6, 2018—Today, Massachusetts voters approved Ballot Question 3, which preserves a 2016 law prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in public places. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson offered the following statement in response:

“We congratulate transgender residents and their families, as well as the rest of the state, on this important electoral defense of the 2016 civil rights law. Transgender people must have the same basic protections enjoyed by everyone else in Massachusetts so they can live their lives with safety, privacy, and dignity. Although much of the focus on this law centered on access to public restrooms, the law also prohibits discrimination in museums, theaters, and art galleries.

“Creativity in all its forms helps build more vibrant, equitable and connected communities and every resident, regardless of gender identity, must be able to safely access the spaces in which we display, express, and showcase art. Today, the arts community joined others across the state in voting yes on Question 3, and we are proud of our participation in the coalition to preserve civil rights protections for transgender residents.”

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Artists, mayors, organizations to mark ‘Arts Matter Day’ Oct. 26

More than 600 artists, organizations, advocates, and leaders statewide will participate to celebrate creativity in our communities

October 3, 2018—MASSCreative announces that Arts Matter Day, an online celebration of arts, culture, and creative expression, will take place Friday, October 26. More than 600 artists, arts and cultural organizations, creative leaders, and advocates across the state will mark the day by holding events or participating in the #ArtsMatterDay social media campaign to celebrate creativity in our communities and show the power of art in our lives.

“With competitive campaigns underway for governor and the Massachusetts Legislature, this year’s Arts Matter Day is an opportunity for voters to share their passion for arts, culture, and creativity with the candidates, and for candidates to also share why art matters to them,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative.

On Arts Matter Day, the Jewish Arts Collaborative will present Arts Matter Shabbat, a celebration of Jewish journeys through the arts at local synagogues and organizations in Boston, Brookline, Needham, Newton, Sudbury, Swampscott, Wayland, and Wellesley.

In New Bedford, the New Bedford Art Museum, AHA! New Bedford, Destination New Bedford, and New Bedford Arts and Culture are organizing local artists and politicians to gather for a community photo.

“It’s hard to imagine community life without creativity. Concerts, plays, and even displays of student artwork in public places brighten our environments,” added Wilson. “Community-based arts organizations are integral to educating our children, growing local economies, and creating places and experiences that strengthen our neighborhoods and improve our quality of life.”

Last year, the creative community shared more than 15,000 photos, videos, and messages on social media showing why arts matter. Launched in October 2014, Arts Matter Days are an opportunity to educate the public and political leaders about the need to support artists and arts organizations. Past Arts Matter Days have featured a host of arts programming around the Commonwealth, as well as social media campaigns targeting candidates for gubernatorial, legislative, and municipal office with emails, videos, and posts demonstrating the impact of arts and culture in Massachusetts.

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State Sen. Adam Hinds meets with district arts leaders and submits Create the Vote questionnaire

BOSTON, August 27, 2018―Members of MASSCreative’s Leadership Council and creative leaders in the Berkshires met with state Sen. Adam Hinds Aug. 15 as part of its Create the Vote 2018 initiative. During the meeting, which was held at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Hinds addressed questions from leaders of the local creative community, including Lucis Castaldo, IS183 Art School; Michele Daly, Mass College of Art’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center; Adam Davis, Shakespeare and Company; Lisa Dorin, Williams College Museum of Art; Matthew Glassman, Double Edge Theatre; Jen Glockner, Office of Cultural Development for the City of Pittsfield; Sally and Fred Harris, Saint James Place, Donna Hassler, Chesterwood and Olivier Mesley, The Clark Art Institute.

Create the Vote 2018 is a nonpartisan campaign to raise awareness of the ways that arts and creative expression improve schools, strengthen local business districts, and build vibrant neighborhoods in which people want to live, work, and play. Members of the campaign are meeting with state and municipal political candidates to discuss the candidates’ views on the arts and cultural community and the role that culture, creativity, and the arts should play in state and local government.

As part of the campaign, a Create the Vote questionnaire has been distributed to candidates running for state legislative office this year. It seeks information from candidates about the role that arts and culture currently plays in their district; ideas they have for using art to spur economic development and address social problems; and whether they support increased public investment in the arts through the Massachusetts Cultural Council and passage of a Percent for Art Program in the Commonwealth.

Hinds’ questionnaire is available online here: http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv18hinds

Hinds is seeking a second term in the Massachusetts Senate representing the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden District—the largest geographic territory in the legislature and an area with a significant creative economy. Thomas Wickham, a Lee selectman, is challenging Hinds in the Democratic primary, which will be held Sept. 4.

Wickham has not yet returned his Create the Vote questionnaire or responded to requests for a meeting with the Create the Vote campaign.

In his questionnaire, Hinds noted that he had requested to chair the Senate’s Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development because of the central role that the creative economy plays in the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Senate District.

“Arts are central to most issues in the district. We have an economy that requires we support our arts institutions, utilize it to bolster the tourism economy,” he wrote. “A vibrant arts scene in northern Berkshire county has led to serious economic investment by outside investors. We have income levels that create pockets of at risk youth and arts have proven critical for accessing those youth.”

“Although creativity builds more vibrant, equitable and connected communities, political and policy support for the arts isn’t a given,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson. “It comes from deliberate, strategic organizing and advocacy by the creative community, and cultivation of municipal and state leaders. We’re excited to work with community partners across the state to ensure that the benefits of our creative economy—and how to grow it—are part of the political discourse in this election season.”

MASSCreative has collaborated with community leaders on Create the Vote campaigns in communities across the Commonwealth since 2013, when its inaugural campaign secured a pledge from Boston mayoral candidate Marty Walsh to hire an arts commissioner, a promise he fulfilled after being elected. Create the Vote campaigns have also been instrumental in persuading municipal officials in Medford and Medfield to provide matching funds for their local cultural councils. In New Bedford, Create the Vote spearheaded the successful effort to establish a dedicated arts fund using revenue from the city’s lodging tax. The fund required the support of Mayor Jon Mitchell and the City Council, along with Gov. Charlie Baker’s approval of a home-rule petition.

Last year, MASSCreative partnered with local arts leaders, advocates, artists, creative entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in 13 cities and towns and three state senate districts. Participating municipalities included Barnstable, Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham, Franklin, Holyoke, Lowell, Lynn, Newton, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. In 2014, Create the Vote hosted the Commonwealth’s first-ever gubernatorial arts debate, drawing more than 500 people to Worcester’s Hanover Theatre to hear candidates explain their vision for our creative economy.

“Elections are when we hear candidates’ best ideas for meeting the challenges our communities are facing,” Wilson added. “Given the important role that the arts play in educating our students, building strong neighborhoods, and generating economic activity, Create the Vote provides a valuable platform for candidates to share their ideas and policy positions on arts, culture and creativity.”

Follow the campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #CreateTheVote. You can also “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @MASSCreative, and visit http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv2018.

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BOSTON, August 27, 2018 - MASSCreative Announces New Policy and Government Affairs Director

BOSTON, August 27, 2018—MASSCreative announces today that it has named Emily Ruddock as its new Director of Policy and Government Affairs, where she will advance MASSCreative’s policy platform with government officials, opinion leaders, and advocacy partners. MASSCreative hired Ruddock in 2017 as a program advocate but promoted her in less than a year to direct the organization’s policy and government advocacy efforts. She brings 13 years of experience working in strategic and management positions for non-profit arts organizations, including government service as the first director of the City of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District. In her role as director of policy and government affairs, Ruddock will continue this work on a broader scale.

“Emily is a skilled communicator and leader who can bring people together to get things done. Her passion for the arts and arts advocacy is palpable,” said Matt Wilson, MASSCreative’s executive director. “MASSCreative has made great gains at the State House and in the broader political realm, advocating for arts and creativity as a path to prosperity and better quality of life in the Commonwealth. But political and policy support for arts, culture, and creativity is never a given. It requires ongoing organizing and advocacy and the continued cultivation of municipal and state leaders. Emily is the perfect person to lead us in this work.”

Before joining MASSCreative, Ruddock was the artistic producer at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT), where she managed the day-to-day operations of the Artistic Department, including all hiring, resource logistics, and budgeting for at least three annual theatrical productions. She also developed and supervised MRT’s first education department-focused effort, strengthening partnerships with local social service organizations and schools.

As director of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District, Ruddock was highly regarded by city officials and local arts leaders for her leadership in coordinating arts and cultural organizations for neighborhood revitalization and economic development. Ruddock worked with elected city and state officials on a range of projects to promote downtown Lynn and the arts community, including drafting legislation establishing the city’s first Public Art Commission. She also organized and executed free public events featuring local arts and community groups.

Ruddock holds a BA in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

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BOSTON, July 30 2018—Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Legislature’s Override of Gov. Baker’s Veto of Mass Cultural Council Funding Increase:

“We applaud the Massachusetts Legislature―particularly House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, Sens. Harriette L. Chandler and Adam Hinds, Reps. Cory Atkins and Stephen Kulik, and Cultural Caucus Chairs Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Mary Keefe and Cultural Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Sarah Peake―for overriding Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of $2 million from the Mass Cultural Council’s $16.1 million budget.

“This is the fourth year in a row that that lawmakers have overridden vetoes of Mass Cultural Council funding by Gov. Charlie Baker, and the fourth year that they have done so by an overwhelming margin. The Mass Cultural Council is a model for how public funds can be invested for an outsize impact. Our state and local economies are made up of hundreds of downtown districts that rely upon the contributions of nonprofit arts organizations, who generated more than $2.2 billion in activity in 2015 alone. These organizations rely on support from the Mass Cultural Council which, in turn, is used to leverage additional, private investment. Taken together, these investments infuse our cities and towns with creative activities and events that make our neighborhoods more connected, vibrant, and equitable. We are incredibly grateful to our Legislature for recognizing this and for continuing to invest in art, culture, and creativity.”

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BOSTON, July 26, 2018—MASSCreative Urges State Legislature To Override Gov. Baker’s Veto of Spending on Art, Culture, and Creativity

BOSTON, July 26, 2018— Today, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed $2 million in funding for the Mass Cultural Council, reducing the recommended funding for the organization from $16.1 million to $14.1 million. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson offered the following statement in response:

“We are deeply dismayed by Gov. Baker’s veto of funding for the Mass Cultural Council approved by lawmakers. This is the fourth year in a row that Gov. Baker has vetoed increased funding for the Mass Cultural Council. For the past three years, lawmakers have overridden his vetos by overwhelming margins. We are incredibly grateful to state lawmakers for their continued leadership and urge them to once again fully override Gov. Baker’s veto.

“The local cultural councils and other nonprofit arts organizations funded by the Mass Cultural Council infuse our cities and towns with creative activities and events making our neighborhoods more connected, vibrant, and equitable. The benefits of these intentional investments in art and creativity can be seen in our schools and communities. Our state and local economies are made up of hundreds of downtown districts that rely upon the contributions of nonprofit arts organizations, who generated more than $2.2 billion in activity in 2015 alone. These organizations rely on support from the Mass Cultural Council which, in turn, is used to leverage additional, private investment.”

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July 19, 2018 - MASSCreative launches Create the Vote 2018 in communities across the state

BOSTON, July 19, 2018—MASSCreative announces today that Create the Vote 2018 will launch next week with events in Boston, Easthampton, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Somerville, and Worcester. Create the Vote is a non-partisan, grassroots campaign to engage voters and candidates for office in Massachusetts on the vital role that arts, culture and creative expression play in improving our schools, strengthening our economy, and building neighborhoods where people want to live, work, and play.

During Create the Vote campaigns, local advocates encourage candidates to develop cultural policies for their cities, towns, and school districts, and to lead by example by convening community leaders on the arts and by attending arts and cultural events. Create the Vote campaigns include public meetings with candidates, artists, and cultural leaders; candidate debates and forums; and publicizing candidates’ answers to a questionnaire about the arts.

“Although creativity builds more vibrant, equitable and connected communities, political and policy support for the arts isn’t a given,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson. “It comes from deliberate, strategic organizing and advocacy by the creative community, and cultivation of municipal and state leaders. We’re excited to work with community partners across the state to ensure that the benefits of our creative economy—and how to grow it—are part of the political discourse in this election season.”

MASSCreative has collaborated with community leaders on Create the Vote campaigns in communities across the Commonwealth since 2013, when its inaugural campaign secured a pledge from Boston mayoral candidate Marty Walsh to hire an arts commissioner, a promise he fulfilled after being elected. Create the Vote campaigns have also been instrumental in persuading municipal officials in Medford and Medfield to provide matching funds for their local cultural councils. In New Bedford, Create the Vote spearheaded the successful effort to establish a dedicated arts fund using revenue from the city’s lodging tax. The fund required the support of Mayor Jon Mitchell and the City Council, along with Gov. Charlie Baker’s approval of a home-rule petition.

Last year, MASSCreative partnered with local arts leaders, advocates, artists, creative entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in 13 cities and towns and three state senate districts. Participating municipalities included Barnstable, Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham, Franklin, Holyoke, Lowell, Lynn, Newton, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. In 2014, Create the Vote hosted the Commonwealth’s first-ever gubernatorial arts debate, drawing more than 500 people to Worcester’s Hanover Theatre to hear candidates explain their vision for our creative economy.

“Elections are when we hear candidates’ best ideas for meeting the challenges our communities are facing,” Wilson added. “Given the important role that art plays in educating our students, building strong neighborhoods, and generating economic activity, Create the Vote provides a valuable platform for candidates to share their ideas and policy positions on arts, culture and creativity.”

Follow the campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #CreateTheVote. You can also “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @MASSCreative, and visit http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv.

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