MA Senate Unanimously Approves ARPA Spending Plan

On November 10, 2021 the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed its proposal to spend $3.82 billion of the Commonwealth's American Rescue Plan Act Fiscal Recovery Funds. This represents more than half of the $5.3 billion allocated to Massachusetts through the federal rescue plan. 

Here is a summary of the process, how we worked together to ensure artists were included in recovery grants, and what to expect next in our continued advocacy for equitable recovery assistance to the Massachusetts arts and cultural sector.

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Congratulations to Mayor Wu

November 11, 2021 - Forty-one members of the Create the Vote Boston Coalition co-signed a letter of congratulations to Mayor-Elect Wu. The letter welcomed Mayor-Elect Wu to her new post and thanked her for her focus on arts and culture during her campaign. The signatories also reminded Mayor-Elect Wu of the significant value that arts and culture bring to residents across Boston and the policies the Create the Vote Boston Coalition urge the city to implement in order to ensure a strong, inclusive and equitable arts and cultural economy for the city. 

Signatories included artists and cultural leaders from across the city including Zakiyyah Sutton, Micah Rosegrant, Cristina Todesco; Ashleigh Gordon, Artistic Director of Castle of our Skins; Shawn LeCount and Karthik Subramanian of Company One; J. Cottle, Founder of Dunamis; The New England Foundation for the Arts; The Huntington Theatre Company, ArtsBoston, Boston Gay Mens Chorus, The Museum of Science, Boston and The New England Aquarium.

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Action Alert: Senate ARPA Proposal Falls Short

On November 3, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its version of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending plan. The $3.67 billion proposal sets aside $75 million for restoration and support of arts and cultural organizations. 

This is $50 million less than the House version and excludes individual artists and creative workers from receiving support.  

This amount is deeply disappointing. Arts and cultural organizations were the first to shut down in March, 2020 and many of them have yet to fully reopen. Artists who lost gigs and personal income - nearly overnight - continue to struggle as cultural organizations have reduced staff and limited live performances. 

 

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Arts and cultural community deeply disappointed in Senate ARPA bill

BOSTON, November 4, 2021—Yesterday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its plan to disburse $3.67 billion of the more than $5 billion in federal funds allocated to Massachusetts via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The bill sets aside $75 million for restoration and support of the arts and cultural sector. 

“We are deeply disappointed with this recommendation. Arts and cultural organizations were the first to shut down in March, 2020 and many of them have yet to reopen, which means that they are well into their second straight year of not being able to put on the performances that bring in revenue. Artists and independent creative workers lost gigs and personal income almost overnight. Every organization and worker in this sector, regardless of how well-resourced at the start of the pandemic is hurting now, with BIPOC-led organizations bearing the brunt of the damage,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “MASSCreative will partner with artists and arts and cultural supporters across the Commonwealth to support Amendment #2, which would increase the allocation to $200 million and ensure artists are eligible for recovery assistance. The Amendment was filed by State Senator Ed Kennedy (D-Lowell), Chair of the Senate Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee. Chair Kennedy has been a champion for working artists and the arts and cultural sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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MA House Unanimously Passes ARPA Spending Bill

Last week the Massachusetts House of Representatives debated their proposal to spend a little over half of the Commonwealth's ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds. In a quickly moving process, arts and cultural advocates quickly engaged to ensure their State Representatives understood the value and need for a recovered arts and cultural sector for all in Massachusetts. Here is a summary of the process including some good news, and what to expect next.

 

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Advocacy on House ARPA Budget Proposal

On October 25, 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, 3% of the total spending plan.

This amount is disappointing, especially given the significant losses artists, cultural organizations and arts business have sustained since March 2020. 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. 

 

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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. 

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Action Alert: The Commonwealth Cultural Future Act

Hearing Scheduled for S.2246 - Tuesday September 28 at 11:00am

The recovery of the arts and cultural sector in the Commonwealth is essential to Massachusetts economic and communal recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary public health closures. 

Senator Edward J. Kennedy (D-Lowell) filed S.2246, The Commonwealth Cultural Futures Act which will allocate a minimum of $200M from any federal economic stimulus Massachusetts receives to the recovery and sustainability of artists, cultural organizations and for profit arts businesses. 

 

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MASSCreative Welcomes New Board Chair, Seven New Board Members

Boston Arts & Culture Chief Kara Elliott-Ortega Ascends to Leadership Role 

Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chair

BOSTON, September 21, 2021—MASSCreative is pleased to announce the election of Kara Elliott-Ortega as Board Chair and the appointment of seven new members to its

Board of Directors. Elliott-Ortega, who serves as Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, replaces Stephen D. Immerman, who stepped down to become Immediate Past Chair. 

Elliott-Ortega is an urban planner and cultural organizer focusing on the role of arts and creativity in community building and government. As the Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, she oversees the Arts and Culture cabinet. This includes the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, which supports Boston’s diverse artists, organizations, and cultural ecosystem to create a vibrant city where all of Boston’s communities can express creativity and agency. She has served on the MASSCreative Board of Directors since 2019. 

“I’m excited to lead the MASSCreative Board as the Commonwealth’s creative sector recovers from the crushing financial blows of the pandemic. More than ever, artists and cherished arts and cultural organizations need robust advocacy and organizing leadership to ensure their needs and economic contributions are considered in discussions about allocating state and federal pandemic recovery funding,” Elliott-Ortega said. “MASSCreative has been preparing for such an effort since 2012. Thanks to the leadership of my predecessor Stephen Immerman and Executive Director Emily Ruddock, this organization is well-prepared to ensure that arts and culture in Massachusetts is accessible to all—including in our schools—and that our creative workforce is respected and supported.” 

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Mayoral Candidates Make Their Pitch to the Arts and Culture Community

Boston mayoral candidates John Barros, Andrea Campbell, and Michelle Wu shared their vision for Boston’s post-pandemic future and the role that artists and arts and cultural organizations will play in it at Create the Vote Boston 2021’s Boston Mayoral Candidate Forum on Art, Culture, and Creativity   Sept. 2.  

Moderated by WBUR arts and culture reporter Cristela Guerra, the virtual event opened with a poem by Micah Rosegrant, a Roslindale poet and organizer, titled “Invocation to Together Breath,” and a land acknowledgement from J.Cottle, executive director of Dunamis.  

Cottle also highlighted both the importance of arts and culture to Boston’s economic recovery from the pandemic and the need for the next mayor to prioritize support for expanding access to the arts citywide.

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