Rep. Cory Atkins, Sen. Eric Lesser, and Boston Chief of Arts and Culture Julie Burros address more than 200 artists at first-ever Arts Matter Advocacy Day

March 25, 2015― More than 200 artists and cultural leaders gathered at Citi Wang Theatre in downtown Boston Wed., March 25, from 10-11:30am for Arts Matter Advocacy Day. Joyce Kulhawik, President of the Boston Theater Critics Association and, emceed the event, which included remarks from state Rep. Cory Atkins, state Sen. Eric Lesser, and Boston Chief of Arts and Culture Julie Burros. After the event, attendees marched to the State House and met with lawmakers to request an increase in state investment in the arts.

Arts Matter Advocacy Day participants included Sue Dahling Sullivan, Chief Strategic Officer of Citi Performing Arts Center; Gary Dunning, Executive Director of Celebrity Series; Catherine Peterson, Executive Director of ArtsBoston; Julie Hennrikus, Executive Director of StageSource; Sara Stackhouse, Executive Producer of Actors Shakespeare Project; Lauren Wolk, Associate Director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod; and Emily Ruddock, Director of the Downtown Lynn Cultural District.

Rep. Atkins, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development, told the gathering that arts and tourism are the third largest drivers of the economy in Massachusetts, and that they “touch all of society.” She asked why anyone would want to live in Massachusetts after the devastating winter the region has seen. “The answer is sitting in this room,” she said, referring to arts organizations represented from across the state.

Sen. Lesser, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development, noted that the arts are critical to the development of the downtowns of Gateway Cities and urged attendees to help lawmakers understand the critical role that arts and culture plays in the economic health of the Commonwealth.

Burros urged the crowd to stay involved in advocating for the arts, and that public involvement would help cultural organizations thrive.

MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson asked attendees to speak from the heart when talking with lawmakers, and to tell stories about the impact art has in their lives and their communities.

“Across the state, from Williamstown to Provincetown, community-based arts organizations are improving our quality of life by creating events and places where people want to gather and connect. They are also driving local economies, and creating educational opportunities, particularly in under-resourced communities,” said Wilson. “It’s important that policymakers and legislators understand the value of investing in the arts and cultural sector, and our creative communities.”

Arts Matter Advocacy Day was part of MASSCreative’s Arts in Action campaign which is working to ensure that Gov. Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature provides the arts and cultural community with the support it needs to continue building vibrant and connected communities across the Commonwealth. Photos from the gathering at Citi Wang Theatre; the “arts march” to the State House; and meetings with lawmakers can be found on Twitter with the #ArtsMatter hashtag.


On Feb. 17, MASSCreative and youth from Hyde Square Task Force and Walnut Hill School for the Arts delivered 3,000 signatures to Gov. Baker requesting increased state investment in the arts.

On March 4, Gov. Baker released his FY2016 budget with a recommendation to fund the state’s investment in arts and culture at $11.8 million. In the coming weeks, the House and Senate will release their respective budgets.

The arts community is asking lawmakers to support a $15 million investment in the arts to fund arts programs that serve under-resourced youth; the 329 local cultural councils across the state; and the UP Innovation and Learning Network, which make art more accessible.

In 1998, the state funded the Massachusetts Cultural Council at $27 million. Since then, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined 55 percent to its current level of $11.1 million.


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.

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