MASSCreative, Mass Live Events Coalition Testify Before Joint Committee; Call for Passage of Cultural Futures Act

Groups cite urgent need among arts and cultural organizations

BOSTON, April 9, 2021—Today, leaders in the tourism, arts, and cultural industries from across the state testified before the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development on the impact of COVID-19 and necessary recovery measures needed. At the top of the list was passage of the Cultural Futures Act, which would set aside $200 million of the more than $8 billion that Massachusetts will receive from the American Rescue Plan, the new federal COVID-19 relief bill passed into law in March, for stabilization grants for arts and cultural organizations throughout the state.

“The arts and cultural sector needs significant and meaningful public support now to ensure its survival in the future. The state’s ultimate economic recovery is tied to the health of large cultural institutions like the Tanglewood and the New England Aquarium, alongside smaller, community-based organizations,” said Emily Ruddock, Executive Director of MASSCreative. “These smaller arts and cultural organizations especially drive local economies in our cities and towns, bring people together, and build bridges across neighborhood, racial, ethnic, and class divides. As we come out of the pandemic, we are going to need every tool at our disposal to revive the economy and bring people together again. The arts and cultural sector will be central to these efforts.”

Since March 2020 and the pandemic-related closure of arts and cultural venues in Massachusetts, nearly 900 arts and cultural nonprofit organizations—which represent a sliver of the state’s robust creative economy—have reported $588.3 million in pandemic-related losses, and individual creative workers in Massachusetts lost over $30 million during that same time. Organizations led by Black Indigenous and People of Color have been especially hard hit.

Thomas Whelan, President of the Massachusetts Live Events Coalition, a state Chapter of the National Live Events Coalition, said that nearly 60 percent of live event business owners will have closed their doors by the summer of 2021, even after the latest round of PPP loans, if they do not receive additional, immediate financial relief.

“These business owners will have depleted their life savings, lost their family homes, vehicles, and taken on massive debts to try and stay afloat,” Whelan said. “Our workforce, despite a recorded average of 20 years’ professional working experience, have gone from 5 am work call times to standing in food lines, due to food insecurity.”

Approximately 300,000 Massachusetts residents were employed in the live events field before the pandemic as event planners, trade show managers, ushers, caterers, entertainers, valets, and professionals in audio visual, lighting, floral, décor, staging, ticketing, and security.

Before the pandemic, arts and cultural nonprofits also generated over $2.3 billion in spending, brought in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues, and supported more than 73,000 full time jobs. In Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester—communities hard hit by COVID-19—arts and cultural nonprofits supported 500, 1,875, and 4.062 full-time jobs, respectively. In Lowell, arts and cultural organizations generated over $12 million in total spending, bringing in $478,000 in local tax revenue. In Springfield, they generated nearly $50 million in total spending, and $2.2 million in local tax revenue. In Worcester, generated over $125 million in total spending and $4.4 million in local tax revenue.

Ruddock added that the systemic racism in health care laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic was also evident in the arts and cultural sector. “Culturally-specific arts and cultural organizations that were underfunded and under-resourced prior to the pandemic due to structural racism face even more challenges to survive post-pandemic,” Ruddock said. “That is why it is especially important that the Commonwealth Cultural Future Act directs distribution of grants to consider racial diversity and equity, as well as geographic diversity, and programmatic diversity.”

The Cultural Futures Act would establish a Massachusetts Cultural Economy COVID-19 Recovery Fund that will be administered by the Mass Cultural Council. The funds will be disbursed through grants to cultural organizations, both non-profit and for profit, as well as individual creative workers. Grants will consider racial diversity and equity, geographic diversity, and programmatic diversity within the cultural sector. They will also prioritize economic need and recipients’ economic impact in terms of job creation and tourism spending prior to March 2020.


About MASSCreative
MASSCreative works with artists, cultural councils, arts organizations and the broader creative community to build a Commonwealth where arts and creativity are an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life. Working with our coalition of 400 arts and cultural organizations and artists from across the Commonwealth, MASSCreative uses public education and awareness, grassroots organizing, advocacy campaigns, and other civic and political engagement to ensure that arts, culture, and creativity are considered when important policy and political decisions get made at the state and local level.

About Mass Live Events Coalition
Massachusetts Live Events Coalition advocates for representation, support, and financial resources for the Massachusettes Live Events workers and businesses, impacted by the extensive shutdown of their industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic

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published this page in Press 2021-04-09 12:41:50 -0400

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