Arts and cultural community disappointed in House ARPA bill; will support amendment to increase pandemic relief

BOSTON, October 26, 2021—This week, the House Ways and Means Committee released its plan to disburse $3.65 billion of the more than $5 billion in federal funds allocated to Massachusetts via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The bill sets aside $125 million for restoration and support of the arts and cultural sector.

MASSCreative will partner with artists and arts and cultural supporters across the Commonwealth to support amendment #109, which would increase the allocation to $175 million. The amendment was filed by Rep. Dylan Fernandes, House Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, who has been a champion for working artists and the arts and cultural sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are disappointed with this recommendation,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts and cultural sector is on the brink of collapse with BIPOC-led organizations bearing the brunt of destruction. Simply put, we need public investment in the artists and cultural organizations that bring our communities together and drive our regional and statewide economies. We are incredibly grateful for the leadership shown by Rep. Fernandes as well as that of Rep. Carole Fiola of Fall River, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. To survive and thrive, artists, arts organizations, and cultural entities need public champions, and they have showed up.” 

Before the pandemic, the arts and cultural sector generated over $25.5 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy and supported 142,578 jobs resulting in $13.6 billion in total compensation. 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. 

“We have lost so much in this pandemic. Some of us have lost loved ones, our homes, our businesses and jobs, and even a basic feeling of safety as we have watched BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Harold Steward, Executive Director and Cultural Strategist of The Theatre Offensive. “We cannot leave these people and organizations behind to fend for themselves. Arts and cultural organizations that serve BIPOC, queer, and other minoritized communities need investment to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world.” 

Since March 2020 and the pandemic-related closure of museums and stages and the cancellation of musical performances, plays, and other live performances, 981 arts and cultural nonprofit organizations—which represent a sliver of the state’s creative economy—have reported $588.3 million in pandemic-related losses. Nearly 3,000 creative workers in Massachusetts lost over $30 million during that same time. 

“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 Springfield Museums and the New England Aquarium, alongside smaller, community-based organizations including the Community Music School of Springfield and Art for the Soul Gallery,” said Karen Finn, Executive Director of the Springfield Cultural Partnership. “Local economies in our cities and towns are especially driven by regional and local arts and culture organizations that provide definition and meaning to place and community. As we come out of the pandemic, we are going to need every tool at our disposal to revive these locales and bring people together again. The arts and cultural sector will be central to these efforts.” 

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.

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published this page in Press 2021-10-26 13:29:44 -0400

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