Featured Member: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: From med school to elementary school, connecting students with Mrs. Gardner's vision for the arts

Over the past two years, nearly 250 dental students have participated in an abridged program at the museum aimed at sharpening the future dentists’ observation skills in the clinical setting.

Tobin K-8 School third graders draw around the Gardner Museum’s central courtyard. 

Michelle Grohe, the Gardner Museum’s Director of School and Teacher Programs, employs a discussion-based teaching method called Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) with the medical students—as well as students grade K-12—to help them think more critically about art. The method uses three simple questions to prompt students to make observations about particular works and then back them up with evidence: What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?

“The idea is that you’re using Visual Thinking Strategies and open ended group discussions with first-year medical students to build their observation and group communication skills, first with art, and then applying them in clinical settings,” Grohe explains. “We might go look at some textiles here and look at the different patterns that are made, or look at different paintings or sculptures with different surface textures or things of that nature. And then we go back to the medical school and a medical practitioner such as dermatologist, will show slides of close-ups of different skin conditions and wounds and basically talk the students through, What’s going on in this picture? What are some things you notice about what’s happening here?

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  Create The Vote 2014 Goes Statewide!

Over the next eight months, the race to elect a new governor of Massachusetts will provide candidates and voters the opportunity to discuss the strengths and challenges of the Commonwealth and debate our vision to strengthen the economy, improve our schools, and make our communities healthier and safer. It’s an exciting and important time.

To capitalize on this opportunity, MASSCreative and the Create the Vote coalition kicked off its campaign this week to make sure that arts, culture, and creativity are an integral part of this important discussion.

“The Arts Matter in the Commonwealth. They should matter in this election,” said Matt Wilson, Executive Director of MASSCreative. 

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  Show the Gubernatorial Candidates that Arts Matter!




Leaders and supporters of the creative community are invited to join us at one of our 10 regional meetings as we take Create the Vote 2014 statewide to ensure that our next governor is a champion of the arts. Over the next seven months the community will have the opportunity to work with creative sector leaders and supporters across the Commonwealth to:

  • Broadcast and share the stories of impact that the creative sector has on our communities. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Sit down face to face with the gubernatorial candidates to share views about the arts and cultural sector. See the questionnaire that the candidates have been asked to fill out.
  • Engage voters on why 'Arts Matter’ and why arts, culture and creativity are an important issue in this year’s campaign. Sign up here and recruit five of your friends to tell the candidates that ‘Arts Matter’
  • 'Artsdog' the candidates to engage them in discussion in person and through social media about their platforms. Be on the lookout when the candidates come to your city or town and makes sure you ask them a question about arts, culture and/or creativity.

Creative Collaborative Conference on the Cape

More than 200 arts, cultural and creative leaders gathered in Hyannis on March 24 to learn, advocate, and celebrate the creative sector on the Cape. The fourth annual Cape Creative Collaborative conference brought together leaders and supporters of the community from Falmouth to Provincetown and was an inspiring testament to the strength of the arts and cultural community.

MASSCreative Director Matt Wilson addressed the crowd and urged them to engage in the Create the Vote campaign by setting up meetings with candidates and encouraging their own audiences to participate in the campaign.

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 Building Momentum On State Arts Funding
Arts and cultural leaders meet in Pittsfield at the Lichenstein Center for the Arts. (iBerkshires.com)
When Governor Deval Patrick announced his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal back in January, he allocated only $9.6 million to the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). That’s $1.5 million less than what was allocated to the MCC in fiscal year 2014.

Leaders in the creative community are getting ready for the House to release their version of the budget on Wednesday, April 9th and have been busy advocating for an increase in public investment to the creative community through a $16 million allocation to the MCC. Several leaders have organized community meetings with their state legislators and are poised for action when the House budget is released. Look out for our action alert on Wednesday, April 9th for how to ask your state representative to support a $16 million budget. 

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  Pushing for Arts Education Opportunities for All

Jonathan Rappaport and Tracie Konopinski deliver the proposal
to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Eduacation


Arts education helps to keep kids in school and prepares students for academic and professional success. That’s why MASSCreative and Arts|Learning has launched Arts for All, an initiative to make one year of visual, media, and performing arts education a requirement for admission to the Massachusetts State University System and the University of Massachusetts System.

Arts for All is backed by more than 200 leaders from the state’s arts, culture, and education sectors, all of whom have endorsed a report making a detailed case for the arts requirement that was delivered this week to the Department of Higher Education. Read our press release for the rundown.

“Making arts education a requirement for entrance to our state universities is a matter of simple common sense,” said Arts|Learning Executive Director Jonathan C. Rappaport. “Arts learning improves students’ self-motivation, critical thinking, and problem solving skills—all of which are critical to their success in college and in today’s highly competitive job market.” 

Stay tuned for ways to engage in the campaign as it’s taken up by the Department of Higher Education. 

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  Cultural Facilities Fund: Working on a Five-Year Renewal


In November, Governor Patrick tripled his allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund to $15 million to repair and rebuild the Commonwealth’s cultural venues. The governor’s decision came after the creative sector pulled together to show the strength of the community. We’re ready to do it again.

Right now, the legislature is working to reauthorize the Fund, so that monies are available to be distributed over another five years. We’re working to ensure that the Cultural Facilities Fund is reauthorized at $75 million so that $15 million can be allocated by the governor each year. 


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 In the News and Online
Associated Press

mc_cms_blueSq.jpg  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has officially begun his search for an Arts Commissioner. This is great news for the creative community and for everyone involved in Create the Vote Boston campaign during which the mayor was urged to create a cabinet-level position for an arts and cultural leader. Boston Magazine shares the story, quoting Mayor Walsh as saying at the announcement: “We’re making culture a priority.”

Arts and cultural leaders are hopeful about this new Arts Commissioner. Jason Turgeon of FIGMENT Boston explains that this is a significant step for Boston’s creative community:

“[It’s] super encouraging, and he is doing it pretty quickly. I thought he’d hire a fire commissioner and school superintendent first. I thought we’d take a back seat in all of this, so I’m encouraged by this,” he said. “It’s certainly different than [former mayor Tom Menino’s] administration. It’s night and day, really. It seems like Walsh’s position will be much more connected to the arts community.”

See the full job description and posting on Hire Culture

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 Welcome New and Renewing Members!

We’d like to welcome the following groups to the MASSCreative Action Network: 


We look forward to working with all our members as we roll out campaigns for 2014. We must build our momentum to increase state funding for the arts and ensure arts education opportunities for all our youth. 

MASSCreative is supported by institutional memberships and individual contributions which provide us with the capacity to run effective campaigns for the creative community. Please consider supporting us.

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up yet, join here.

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Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...