Arts Advocates Call on MBTA to Fully Restore Public Art Program

Contact:
Tracie Konopinski, MASSCreative 617-350-7610, tkonopinski@mass-creative.org

More than 35 arts, political leaders sign letter to Interim General Manager Frank DePaola and Secretary Stephanie Pollack

BOSTON, Dec. 17, 2015—Earlier this week, a coalition of more than 35 municipal and political supporters, artists and cultural leaders encouraged the MBTA to fully reinstate funding for the Integral Art Program. Under this program, public artworks were to be created for MBTA stations across Greater Boston.

Last month the MBTA cancelled existing commissions for Green Line extension artworks in an effort to contain the rising costs of the overall expansion project. Projects have since been restored, but plans for other integrated artwork in the Chelsea Silver Line, Blue Hill Avenue, and Wollaston Stations—historically underserved neighborhoods—are still on hold.

In a letter to MBTA Interim General Manager Frank DePaola and Secretary Stephanie Pollack, the coalition thanked the MBTA for reinstating funding to the Integral Art projects on the Green Line Extension and encouraged the restoration of funds to complete public art projects along the Chelsea Silver Line, Blue Hill Avenue, and Wollaston Stations. The letter notes the MBTA’s legacy of pioneering public art programs and their benefits in encouraging ridership, deterring vandalism, and improving customer experience.

“We understand the fiscal challenges the MBTA currently faces, yet we encourage you to acknowledge the extraordinary value that this small portion of the overall budget can put towards genuinely vibrant T Stations through the MBTA’s Integral Art Program,” the arts advocates wrote. 

The budget for the Integral Art Program accounted for $1.9 million of the Green Line Expansion’s $2 billion cost, or approximately one percent. Artists had already begun work on their particular projects when the program was scrapped. 

“The Integral Public Art program is a fraction of the overall price tag for the Green Line Expansion,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. “The return in terms of benefits to commuters and the communities it serves—not to mention the artists who had been working on the commissions in good faith―is certainly worth the MBTA’s small investment in these projects. This is why there is such strong support among arts advocates for restoring it.”

The signers of the letter include Thomas G. Ambrosino, City Manager for the City of Chelsea; State Rep. Cory Atkins and State Sen. Eric Lesser, the House and Senate Chairs of the Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development Committee; Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston; Carole Charnow, President and CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum; Jill Medvedow, Director of The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Marc Draisen, Executive Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council; and the MBTA Integral Arts Program artists.

The letter is available online at mass-creative.org/mbtaletter. The coalition is encouraging other community members to add their voice through an online petition at mass-creative.org/mbtapetition

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Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Gov. Baker’s veto of Massachusetts Percent for Art Program

   
BOSTON, November 12, 2015— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Gov. Baker’s veto of Massachusetts Percent for Art Program:
   
“We are disappointed with Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to veto the legislature’s Percent for Art program. More than half the states around the country, including every other New England state have a program like this in place. Setting aside what are relatively small dollars on multi-million dollar construction projects to fund the development of arts and cultural programs would have a huge impact throughout the state. 
      
“We know that the arts community plays a vital role in the development of cities and towns -- this has been borne out over and over again through quantitative studies as well as by our own personal experience. We are encouraged by Gov. Baker’s support of a Percent for Art program in general and we hope that agreement can be reached between the governor and lawmakers for a program that will work for Massachusetts.” 
  
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Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works with creative leaders and entrepreneurs, working artists, arts educators, and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and support necessary to build vibrant and connected communities. MASSCreative has more than 300 arts and cultural member organizations from around the state. 
   
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MASSCreative to Partner with Local Groups in Five Cities to Run Campaigns to Highlight Arts and Culture during Municipal Mayoral and City Council Elections

Campaigns will run in Fitchburg, Gloucester, Medford, New Bedford, and Worcester

BOSTON, October 13, 2015—MASSCreative announced today that it has partnered with local art groups in Fitchburg, Gloucester, Medford, New Bedford, and Worcester to run Create the Vote campaigns during the mayoral and city council elections. The campaigns will highlight the importance and role that arts and culture play in their respective cities.

“Elections are a great time to discuss the strengths of our cities, the challenges they face, and the vision for our communities,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. “The role that arts and culture plays in our local economies, in student education, and in strengthening our communities is an important part of the political discourse. We look forward to hearing from the candidates on their vision for the role that arts and culture can play in their communities.”

Create the Vote Gloucester hosted a forum on arts and culture October 5 between mayoral candidates Sefatia Romeo Theken and Paul McGeary, that drew more than 125 people. Organized by the Gloucester Stage Company, Rocky Neck Art Colony, Gloucester’s Committee for the Arts, Arts Gloucester, and seARTS, and moderated by MASSCreative Director Matt Wilson, the event featured a robust hour-long discussion of arts and culture. 

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Legislature Overrides Gov. Baker's Arts Veto

BOSTON, July 29, 2015—Today, the Massachusetts House and Senate voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s veto and restore $2.3 million in funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement in response: 

“The arts and cultural community is thrilled by the bi-partisan support from the House and Senate to restore investment in the Commonwealth’s arts, cultural and creative sector. This vote shows a deep faith in the work of the creative community to help build a vibrant, healthy and equitable Commonwealth.

This unanimous vote in the Senate and a 153-2 vote in the House brings the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget back to $14.16 million – the amount originally passed by the Legislature. The override marks a 20% bump over last year and the largest increase in state investment in the past nine years. The restored money will provide increases to most MCC arts and cultural grantees and local cultural councils, provide new grants for the Commonwealth’s 29 cultural districts and provide funding for festivals.

We were extremely disappointed in Gov. Baker’s short-sighted decision to veto the Legislature’s increased investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The vote today keeps up the momentum the arts and culture community has built over the past three years to increase the state’s investment in the arts by 49 percent from $9.5 million to $14.16 million. Yet, even as the House and Senate approve this generous increase, the state is still investing nearly half of what it allocated for the arts, cultural and creative community more than 25 years ago. We remain grateful to state lawmakers and legislative leaders who recognized and understood the vital need to increase investment and who voted for restoration of this money.”

 

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Majority of Legislature sign on Cultural Caucus Letter urging Leadership to override Gov. Baker’s veto of arts funding

BOSTON, July 28, 2015—Today, 106 Massachusetts legislators sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting support for an override of Governor Charlie Baker’s veto to restore $2.3 million in funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement in response: 

“The arts and cultural community is encouraged by the broad show of support from the Legislature to restore investment in the Commonwealth’s arts and cultural sector. This strong bipartisan coalition of a majority of the Legislature is consistent with the broad base of support of 103 representatives and 20 senators who supported amendments to increase funding of the Massachusetts Cultural Council during budget deliberations in April and May.

MASSCreative encourages the leadership in the House and Senate to pass this override so the arts, cultural and creative community can do their work to build more vibrant, healthy and equitable communities across the Commonwealth. The restored money would provide increases to all MCC arts and cultural grantees and local cultural councils, provide new grants for the Commonwealth’s 29 cultural districts and provide funding for festivals.

We were extremely disappointed in Gov. Baker’s short-sighted decision to veto the Legislature’s increased investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council. We have built momentum over the past three years by increasing the state’s investment in the arts by 26 percent from $9.5 million to $12 million. Even with the legislature’s generous increase, however, the state is still investing nearly half of what it allocated for the arts, cultural and creative community more than 25 years ago. We remain grateful to state lawmakers and legislative leaders who recognized and understood the vital need to increase investment and who are calling for restoration of this money.”

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MASSCreative Urges State Lawmakers to Overturn Gov. Baker’s Veto of Arts Funding

BOSTON, July 17, 2015—Today, Gov. Baker vetoed a $2 million increase in funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council that was approved by state lawmakers. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement in response: 

“We are extremely disappointed in Gov. Baker’s short-sighted decision to veto the legislature’s increased investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This funding is used to expand access to the arts for everyone in the Commonwealth, foster economic growth, educate our kids, and build vibrancy in our communities. But those who benefit most live in some of our most challenged and under-resourced communities.

“We have built momentum over the past three years by increasing the state’s investment in the arts by 49 percent from $9.5 million to $14.16 million. Even with the legislature’s generous increase, however, the state is still investing nearly half of what it allocated for the arts, cultural, and creative community more than 25 years ago. We remain grateful to state lawmakers and legislative leaders who recognized and understood the vital need to increase investment in the creative community by $2 million and we look forward to working with them to overturn Gov. Baker’s veto.”

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State budget increases funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council by 18 percent

BOSTON, July 8, 2015— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on final FY2016 state budget, which includes a $14.16 million investment in the arts, cultural and creative community. The $14.16 million allocation for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) represents an 18 percent increase in funding for the MCC over last year’s allocation of $12 million. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement:

“We are grateful to state lawmakers and legislative leaders for this investment in arts and culture in the Commonwealth. Thanks to the advocacy work of the creative community, the Commonwealth’s investment in arts and culture has increased by 49 percent over the past three years from $9.5 million to $14.16 million. Even with this generous increase, however, the state is still investing nearly half of what it allocated for the arts, cultural, and creative community more than 25 years ago.

“We have a lot of ground to make up, but this increase is yet another step forward by state leaders to expand access to arts education that teach our students creativity and innovation; increase economic activity, particularly in the downtowns of our Gateway Cities; and develop more vibrant and connected communities that make our neighborhoods places where we want to play, work, visit and raise our kids.

“We congratulate the House and Senate leadership and all of the state legislators who supported budget amendments to increase funding. Credit also goes to the leaders and supporters of the creative community who effectively told their collective stories to the Massachusetts legislature. 

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MASSCreative Praises Cultural Facilities Fund as Example of Program that Works; Urges Increased Investment

June 21, 2015—MASSCreative today praised Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement that he is allocating $10 million in his administration’s first state capital plan to the Cultural Facilities Fund for the repair and rebuilding of the Commonwealth’s aging cultural venues. The investment comes after an advocacy campaign led by MASSCreative featuring civil and cultural leaders from across the state urging the governor to invest in the state’s cultural facilities.

See videos from cultural leaders and their support of the Cultural Facilities Fund as well as a list of mayors and chambers of commerce that have all signed on to a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker to keep state investment strong.

“Public investment should yield returns to the Commonwealth. Under the best of circumstances those returns should improve the Commonwealth’s health and wealth, and the Cultural Facilities Fund does just that,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. “These state funds are leveraged to generate additional private and municipal investment in building projects that sustain the aging infrastructure of the state’s cultural facilities which range from theaters, to concert halls, to dance studios, and museums. These are the places that people in our communities come to meet and gather. They are centers that make possible the creation, practice, and presentation of art. They are often the anchor of a neighborhood’s development or redevelopment.” 

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MASSCreative Urges Attendance at Tonight's Boston Creates Town Hall

   

MASSCreative Urges Attendance at Tonight’s Boston Creates Town Hall
Group also praises Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for making arts in Boston a priority for his administration

June 2, 2015― Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Boston Creates Town Meeting:

 

“Tonight, the city of Boston will hold an historic town hall meeting on how the City should support and invest in the creative community. It will be the first in a series of meetings held throughout the summer to gather ideas and priorities from Boston residents. It’s important for those who care about arts, culture and creativity in Boston to attend and offer their ideas for building a vibrant, more connected Boston.

“It’s also important to recognize Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for his leadership. During the 2013 campaign for mayor, Walsh pledged to lead an ‘Arts Renaissance’ in the city. Since his election, he has appointed Julie Burros as the city’s Chief of Arts and Culture, and his administration has supported installation of Janet Echelman’s transformative aerial rope sculpture above the Greenway, and organized tonight’s Cultural Planning Town Hall. This is the kind of leadership the arts community has long awaited in the city of Boston, and to ensure that this work continues, we urge artists and advocates to attend tonight’s town hall meeting.”

NOTE: The Boston Creates Cultural Planning Town Hall will take place from 6-9pm at English High School in Jamaica Plain. MASSCreative will be tweeting from the meeting with the hashtag #BostonCreates

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Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works with creative leaders and entrepreneurs, working artists, arts educators, and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and support necessary to build vibrant and connected communities. More than 300 arts and cultural organizations from around the state are members of MASSCreative. 

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MASSCreative calls on Senate to invest in the arts

   

BOSTON, May 12, 2015— Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on Senate Ways and Means Recommended Budget for Funding of Massachusetts Cultural Council:

 

“The Senate Ways and Means recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture in FY16 at $12 million would essentially fund the Massachusetts Cultural Council at last year’s level. We see this as a good starting point, but not the end point. This funding level does not provide the resources that the community needs to maintain the impact that arts and culture have made in education and economic development, much less to continue building a more vibrant and connected Massachusetts.

“Over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined nearly 60 percent. MASSCreative is calling on the senate to support Senate Chair of the Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development Committee Eric Lesser’s amendment to increase the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s budget to $15 million.

“Put simply, the creative community in Massachusetts makes vital contributions to the economic development of Gateway Cities; the educational achievement of all students; and efforts to build stronger communities. Core to the success of this cultural impact is public investment in arts and culture through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. We urge state senators to co-sponsor Sen. Lesser’s amendment to increase state investment in arts and culture to $15 million, which is necessary to ensure that arts institutions and local cultural councils across the Commonwealth can provide the diverse array of cultural activities that make the downtowns of our cities 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 communities.”

“We have long known that students involved in arts programming are more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and that arts education fosters development of critical thinking and results in higher achievement outcomes. We also know that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually, and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. Additionally, every dollar spent by an arts and cultural organization generates $2.30 in sales for nearby businesses.

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