MASSCreative names Emily Ruddock new executive director

Organization also welcomes Boston arts chief Kara Elliott-Ortega and longtime arts advocate Barbara Wallace Grossman to board of directors

BOSTON, September 25, 2019—MASSCreative announces today that Emily Ruddock has been named executive director of the arts advocacy organization. Ruddock, who was appointed interim executive director last April following the departure of founding executive director Matt Wilson, assumed the permanent role after a unanimous vote of the MASSCreative Board of Directors.

“I am honored to lead MASSCreative, which in its first seven years has become an indispensable advocate for the state’s art, cultural, and creative communities,” Ruddock said. “As we look ahead to the next seven years and beyond, our work must expand to advance policies that support a strong, well-resourced creative sector so that everyone in Massachusetts, regardless of where they live, can access the benefits provided by artistic and cultural experiences and participation. The creative sector is one of the most potent contributors to the state’s economic and civic vitality, but none of this happens by accident. It takes strategic planning and advocacy.”

Ruddock brings 15 years of experience in strategic and management positions for non-profit arts organizations, including working as the first director of the City of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District. Before joining MASSCreative in 2017, Ruddock was the artistic producer at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT), where she managed the day-to-day operations of the Artistic Department, including hiring, resource logistics, and budgeting for 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.

“Fulfilling our mission to create a Commonwealth in which arts, culture, and creativity are an expected, well-funded and valued part of everyday life will require leadership that is bold, strategic, and collaborative,” said MASSCreative Board Chair Stephen Immerman, who is President Emeritus of Montserrat College of Art. “That is what we have in Emily, who also brings passion not just for art, but for equitable access to art. We are incredibly excited to advance our work with artists, cultural councils, arts organizations and the broader creative community and to have Emily leading these efforts.” 

MASSCreative has also named two new members to its Board of Directors: 

  • Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston.
  • Barbara Wallace Grossman, interim department chair and professor of theatre at Tufts University’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Grossman has also served as a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

MASSCreative also selected new board leadership earlier this month. Immerman was elected board chair, replacing former chair Sara Stackhouse, founder of Stackhouse Creative and The Mama Project, who remains on the board as a member of the executive committee. Susan Chinsen, associate producer at ArtsEmerson and director of the Boston Asian American Film Festival, was elected Vice Chair of the board, and Justin Kang, vice president of economic growth for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, was elected Clerk of the board. 

Last, three board members, Catherine Peterson, executive director of ArtsBoston, Jason Weeks, executive director of Cambridge Arts Council, and Vanessa Snow, a community organizer for SEIU Local 509, stepped off of the board. Both Peterson and Weeks had served as founding board members.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Kara and Barbara to our board. Each has an impressive depth of knowledge not just of the arts but also its impact on communities and we welcome their leadership and expertise,” Immerman said. “We are deeply grateful to all of the work on MASSCreative’s behalf by Catherine, Jason, and Vanessa. The organization simply would not be as strong as it is today without their generous gifts of time and talent.” 

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Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Massachusetts Legislature’s FY2020 Budget

BOSTON, July 23, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Massachusetts Legislature’s FY2020 Budget:

“We are grateful to Massachusetts lawmakers for approving funding for the Mass Cultural Council at $18.1 million. Arts and cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts support more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generate over $2.2 billion in total spending, and bring in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues. Public investment in these cultural organizations is a proven and reliable generator of economic activity, most noticeably in higher need areas of the state, such as our Gateway Cities and rural communities. 

We’re also grateful to lawmakers for approving new language in the Mass Cultural Council line item ensuring that the agency will be able to continue to provide both grants and services to the creative community. Equitable public funding of art organizations and artists throughout Massachusetts creates greater opportunities for all residents to experience creativity and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression. The Mass Cultural Council supports 46 cultural districts across the state that are building bridges across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that other efforts at civic engagement cannot.

“We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have public leaders who understand that the benefits to our communities brought by art and creativity do not occur incidentally. They are the result of strategic investments in Local Cultural Councils, working artists, cultural institutions, community groups, and youth programs. We look forward Gov. Charlie Baker’s signing of the budget and to continuing our work making Massachusetts arts and creativity are an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life.”

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Americans for the Arts to honor MASSCreative founding executive director Matt Wilson with national advocacy award

June 14, 2019—MASSCreative announces today that Americans for the Arts has selected MASSCreative’s founding executive director, Matt Wilson, as this year’s recipient of the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award. The award has been given out since 2009 and—as described on the Americans for the Arts website—“honors an individual at the state level whose arts advocacy efforts have dramatically affected the political landscape.”

Wilson will receive the award during Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, on Saturday, June 15.

“Matt has distinguished himself as a passionate advocate for the arts and arts education,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “He has implemented innovative and transformative programs to strengthen the Massachusetts communities they serve and build recognition for the important work of the arts. His unwavering commitment to local, state, and national support for the arts is deserving of this recognition.”

“We’re so pleased to see this national recognition for Matt’s political advocacy for artists and the creative sector in Massachusetts,” said MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock.

Under Wilson’s leadership, MASSCreative grew to include more than 400 organizational members with 25,000 individuals taking part in public education and advocacy actions. Since 2013, MASSCreative’s campaigns have helped increase operational and capital investment into the Commonwealth’s arts and cultural community by 80 percent. MASSCreative’s advocacy work with the Arts for All Coalition supported the implementation of state policies to increase access and participation to quality arts education. It also helped bring pubic discussion of arts and culture in over 35 campaigns for political office in local and state elections.

Prior to MASSCreative, Wilson led campaigns for a cleaner environment, affordable and accessible health care, to fight corporate power, and to elect progressive government leaders. Wilson graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983 and also earned a Master of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2008.

In addition to Wilson, Americans for the Arts will bestow five other leadership awards:

  • Roberto Bedoya – Public Art Network Award
  • Julie Garreau – Arts Education Award
  • Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham – American Express Emerging Leaders Award
  • Margie Johnson Reese – Selina Roberts Ottum Award
  • George Tzougros – Michael Newton Award

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Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (Mass Cultural Council) in the Senate’s Final FY2020 Budget

MASSCreative Statement on Senate FY2020 Budget

BOSTON, May 24, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (Mass Cultural Council) in the Senate’s Final FY2020 Budget:

“We are grateful to the Senate for its proposal to fund the Mass Cultural Council at $18 million and its approval of an amendment to edit language in the Mass Cultural Council line item that will ensure that the state cultural agency will be able to continue to provide both grants and services to the creative community.

“We are also deeply encouraged that the FY2020 budgets proposed by both the House and Senate recommend increases for the Mass Cultural Council budget, with $500,000 proposed by the House and $2 million by the Senate. This is the first time in recent memory that both branches of the legislature have recommended increases in public investment in art, culture, and creativity.

“But we are not surprised to see such confidence in the sector. Equitable public funding of cultural organizations and artists throughout Massachusetts creates greater opportunities for all residents to experience creativity and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression. Public investment in cultural organizations is also a proven and reliable generator of economic activity, most noticeably in higher need areas of the state, such as our Gateway Cities and rural communities. All together cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts support more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generate over $2.2 billion in total spending, and bring in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues.

“None of these benefits to our communities occur incidentally. They are the result of strategic investments in Local Cultural Councils, working artists, cultural institutions, community groups, and youth programs by the Mass Cultural Council, which focuses on expanding equitable access to art for all residents.

“A House-Senate conference committee will soon be formed to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate FY2020 budgets. We look forward to working with members of the state legislature as the budget process proceeds and sharing the ways that art, creativity, and culture impact all residents of the Commonwealth.”

 

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Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Recommended Funding of the Mass Cultural Council in Senate Ways & Means Committee Proposed FY2020 Budget

BOSTON, May 8, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Recommended Funding of the Mass Cultural Council in Senate Ways & Means Committee Proposed FY2020 Budget:

“The Senate Ways and Means Committee has proposed funding the Massachusetts Cultural Council (Mass Cultural Council) at $17 million, which would be a $1 million increase over 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.

“Equitable public funding of art organizations and artists throughout Massachusetts creates greater opportunities for all residents to experience creativity and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression. These opportunities are just as integral to social wellbeing as adequate food, housing, income, and the pursuit of meaningful activities. Public investment in cultural organizations has also proven to be a powerful generator of economic activity, most noticeably in higher need areas of the state, such as our Gateway Cities and rural communities. All together arts nonprofits in Massachusetts support more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generate over $2.2 billion in total spending, and bring in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues.

“None of these benefits to our communities occur incidentally. They are the result of strategic investments in Local Cultural Councils, working artists, cultural institutions, community groups, and youth programs by the Mass Cultural Council, which focuses on expanding equitable access to art for all residents. These funding priorities contrast greatly with corporate giving, which is often driven by marketing goals and focuses on blockbuster arts events or other highly commercialized activities. It also differs from giving by individual philanthropists, who are often motivated by personal goals. This results in narrow programming that limits the breadth and depth of representation and participation from all our communities.

“We look forward to working with members of the Senate as the FY2020 budget process proceeds and sharing the ways that art, creativity, and culture impacts their constituents.”

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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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