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


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.

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