Arts Leaders Meet With State Sen. Ben Downing; Downing Pledges To Support Increased Investment in Arts Community

November 3, 2014—MASSCreative announced today that leaders and supporters of arts and culture in Berkshire County met with state Sen. Ben Downing Oct. 31 at the Berkshire Museum to discuss the candidate’s vision for the creative community in the Berkshires.

Downing emphasized the importance of the arts to the economy and spirit of the Berkshires. Downing, who grew up in Pittsfield, recalled his many educational field trips as a student to the Berkshire Historical Society and the Berkshire Museum.

“The arts community is our strength. No other county in the Commonwealth boasts such a rich cultural scene. The arts and cultural community does such a great job,” said Downing.

Downing added that he believes there is a great opportunity to increase public support for the arts with incoming Senate President Stan Rosenberg and a new governor. He said he looks forward to working with arts leaders in the Berkshires to increase investment in key institutions and to the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s STARS (Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) residencies that supports arts education programs.

“Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually, and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity,” said Matt Wilson, Executive Director of MASSCreative. “We see the impact of the arts locally here in Pittsfield and across the Berkshires through the work of the dozens of arts and cultural organizations, which make the arts accessible to young children, students, families, and older adults. They also help support working artists. We look forward to working with lawmakers in the next legislative session to ensure that the Commonwealth is getting the most out of its investment in the arts.”

Arts and community leaders in the Berkshires including Van Shields, Leslie Anne Beck, and Laurie Werner from the Berkshire Museum; Jennifer Glockner, the Pittsfield Cultural Director; Tristan Wilson, Roxie Pin, and Corrine Miller from the Barrington Stage Company; Kait Stinchcomb and Tara Young, from the Berkshire Theatre Group; Kelsey Mullen from The Mount (Edith Wharton Museum); Rick Didline, from the Shakespeare & Company; Betsy Sherman, from the Berkshire Historical Society; Ed Bride, from Berkshires Jazz; and Lisa Lewis from the Norman Rockwell Museum met with Downing.

MASSCreative is meeting with candidates through the Create the Vote Coalition—a collaboration of Massachusetts arts, cultural, and creative institutions convened by MASSCreative. The Create the Vote Coalition is also asking candidates for governor and state legislative office to fill out an arts questionnaire.

On July 15, the Coalition hosted the historic Gubernatorial Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity, the first-ever gubernatorial debate about arts and culture. The Forum was held at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester and attended by 500 artists, cultural leaders, and members of the public. Candidates Don Berwick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Mark Fisher, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Jeff McCormick answered questions from moderator Joyce Kulhawik and arts leaders from around the state. A video of the Forum is available here



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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