Daily Hampshire Gazette: Massachusetts must restore investment in arts, culture

Alexandra Kennedy, Executive Director of the Eric Carle Museum, co-wrote an op-ed piece with MASSCreative's Matt Wilson about the need for state investment in the arts, focusing on the impact of funding in the Hampshire county. Kennedy highlights the museum's impressive reach in the area, welcoming 500,000 visitors, including 30,000 school children since its opening, as well as status as an economic driver:

In addition to their educational value, arts and culture are economic drivers. The National Endowment for the Arts, working with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, has repeatedly demonstrated the economic benefits of investing in the arts. In Hampshire County, for instance, arts and cultural organizations generated nearly $21 million in economic activity in fiscal year 2011, according to the Massachusetts Cultural Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks the financial and programmatic impact of cultural organizations.

Hampshire County arts and cultural organizations provide important full- and part-time jobs. Close to 345,000 people attended arts and cultural events in the region in 2011.

Read the entire piece at the Daily Hampshire Gazette

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Pittsfield Arts Groups sit down with State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier to discuss funding

On Monday March 17, 2014 State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier listened to “15 representatives from local [Pittsfield] schools, theatrical groups and museums” at the Lichtenstein Center for Arts to explain their programs and need for funds.  At the meeting, “Farley-Bouvier said she believes art is critical in assisting at-risk children”, and stated that “she backs the Massachusetts Cultural Council's request to increase its spending from $11.1 to $16.1 million, starting July 1”. 

 Shirley Edgerton, director of Youth Alive Step Team & Band, explained to Rep. Farley-Bouvier why it’s important to invest resources in children at a young age:

"We can invest in the beginning with the hope that our kids will stay on a positive road or we can invest our taxes in supporting them on the system and in the corrections system, and my choice is to invest in them now because I know they have a lot to offer us.” – via iberkshire.com

In addition The Barrington Stage managing Director Tristan Wilson went on to say that the 15 groups in attendance are all part of a larger unit that can benefit from investments: 

"We are all connected -- truly an arts community. What you see [gathered] here is the payoff of past investment. – via The Berkshire Eagle

Thanks for the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development and Berkshire Creative for their help in organizing the meeting and State Rep. Farley-Bouvier for her support in the arts. 

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State arts funding: How MA ranks nationwide

Ever wonder how Massachusetts stacks up against other states when it comes to arts funding?

The answers can be found in a new report from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA). Data is collected twice a year from state arts agencies, and it’s a goldmine of information for arts funding geeks.

Key findings in this latest report show that 41 state arts agencies received increases to their budget in Fiscal Year 2014. The median increase was 13.2 percent. Massachusetts is included in that list and did better than most with its 17 percent increase.

Still, those increases in funding did not offset the massive cuts that most state arts agencies have sustained since 2001 (31.7 percent) thanks to the two recessions that have taken place since then. Ten years ago, the state invested nearly $20 million in funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). 

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Arts as an Economic Driver in Lowell

On February 24, 2014, The Listening Tour, held in Lowell, strengthened the argument that arts and culture are vital factors in the state economy. The Listening Tour is a Joint Committee session featuring representatives from the region’s arts, cultural, and tourism organizations. Representatives Cory Atkins and Steven Howitt and State Senators Kathleen O’Connor Ives and Eileen Donoghue, spoke at the event stressing the importance of the creative community.

Representative Atkins expressed how she hopes to increase the budget for the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism for the upcoming year. According to Rep. Atkins, the state thrives on “two things: the innovative economy and the creative economy” stating that every dollar invested in the cultural and tourism sectors, “generate[s] $5 in revenue.” Rep. Atkins also wanted to remind other legislators that the tourism and cultural sectors are “the third largest revenue generator in the state.”

Currently, MASSCreative will be working with arts and cultural leaders around the state to organize meetings with their local legislators. If you’re interested in attending a meeting in your area to discuss the impact of arts and culture in the community, you can contact Drew Esposito at [email protected] or CiCi Flanagan at [email protected].

To read the full article, visit the LowellSun.org

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The Massachusetts Cultural Council's YouthReach Program Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

In honor of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s (MCC) YouthReach Initiative’s 20th anniversary a number of events will be taking place, in particular the National Summit on Creative Youth Development: Unite. Celebrate. Activate.  The conference will be run by the MCC, the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities and the National Guild for the Community Arts Education and will be a time of celebration and arts advocacy. The conference will be taking place March 27-29, 2014 in Boston’s Fenway Cultural District and will consist of 200 leaders from around the nation to bring together arts and youth development.  There will not only be participants here in Boston, but virtual attendees can participate in the conversation through social media.   

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RI Governor’s inspiring proposal to invest in the arts

In the face of economic obstacles for the nation’s smallest state, Governor Lincoln Chafee is looking for the arts sector to deliver a big solution—and he’s willing to make the investment necessary to help.

We have seen reports that art is an economic driver, contributing $504 billion to national GDP, according to a study by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts. We have also seen the success stories of how mayors of cities, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle, have used art as a tool to address citywide issues.

In a state that struggles with rising unemployment and slashed city budgets, Gov. Chafee is electing to take an innovative approach in imagining the state’s budget because he sees state investment in the cultural sector as a clear opportunity for improving all of Rhode Island:

“It’s already here. It’s all around us in this state,” he told The Associated Press. “It just needs a little recognition, a little help. When you look at what the arts can offer the economy, the community, our quality of life, it makes a lot of sense.”

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WAMC: Patrick's Budget Cuts Cultural Funding

In response to Governor Patrick’s $1.5 million budget cut for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, on January 24, 2014, WAMC’s Jim Levulis quoted MASSCreative senior campaign organizer, Tracie Konopinski. In her interview Tracie Konopinski expressed her concern for how the arts community will continue to be hindered if the budget keeps declining:

“His proposal, the $9.6 (million), doesn’t adequately provide for what the creative community needs," said Konopinski. According to MassCreative, over the past 25 years, the state’s funding for the creative economy has declined nearly 60 percent."

Read the full article and listen to the audio on the WAMC’s website. 

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Rainbow Times: AIDS Action, MASSCreative & MassBudget React to Gov. Patrick's Budget

Today in The Rainbow Times, Christine Nicco reported on reactions to Gov. Patrick's FY15 budget from AIDS Action, MassBudget, and MASSCreative. In a statement to the press, MASSCreative shares the trend toward funding the arts over the years:

Over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined nearly 60 percent. Twenty-five years ago, the state invested $27 million in the creative community; 10 years ago that investment was $19 million. Today, it stands at $11.1 million and Gov. Patrick’s proposal would bring it to $9.6 million.

Read the full article on The Rainbow Times' website

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A good day for democracy

2014-01-17_14.12.38.jpgBOSTON, January 17, 2014 -- MASSCreative delivered over 3,000 signatures today to Governor Patrick's office at the State House, asking him to increase state investment in the arts, cultural, and creative community by $5 million. Delivered a week before Governor Patrick is expected to release his last budget as Massachusetts governor, the public comments call on him to provide the resources and support needed to build more connected communities and a vibrant, thriving economy across the Commonwealth.

"Massachusetts is home to large-scale museums, theaters, and orchestras that enjoy international reputations, as well as numerous community-based playhouses and art centers that drive our economy," said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. "These institutions would not exist without the robust and enthusiastic support of Massachusetts residents who routinely sell out performances and flock to cultural venues."

The impact of the Commonwealth's investment in the creative community is clear. 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. The downtowns of many of our Gateway Cities are vibrant because art galleries, performing arts centers, and music venues bring residents together and generate economic activity. The Massachusetts Cultural Data Project reports that in 2010 the leading nonprofit arts, science, and history organizations in Massachusetts served nearly four million children through education programs, and provided more than nine million free admissions to the public.

Yet over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined nearly 60%. Twenty-five years ago, the Commonwealth invested $26 million in the creative community; ten years ago that investment was $19 million. Today, the MCC budget stands at $11.1 million. 

"A $5 million increase will begin to restore the MCC budget back to where it was a decade ago and bring more resources to the hundreds of arts and cultural organizations that bring our communities together, spur economic activity, and create places where we all want to live, work, play, and visit," added Matt Wilson.

The budget Governor Patrick signed into law last year included a 17% increase to the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget. Last November, he tripled the state's allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund. Both moves have set the stage for a final gesture to leave a lasting arts legacy for the state.


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Keep up the momentum!

Last year, over 5,000 people signed our petition to encourage Governor Deval Patrick to increase state investment in the creative community through the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget. In coming together to boldly ask for what we need, we ignited an arts advocacy campaign and were able to influence Governor Patrick to take a crucial step toward restoring essential funding.

Not only did the campaign work, increasing funding by 17%, but it also marked the beginning of an arts legacy for the governor.

After signing an increased budget for FY2014, Governor Patrick kept the momentum going when he tripled the state’s allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund. This second bold move paves the way for a continued legacy of support for arts, culture, and creativity in the Commonwealth.

Building on the progress made in the past year, our FY2015 petition asks for a $16 million allocation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget, which would elevate investment in the day-to-day operations of the creative community by $5 million. Go ahead and sign it now.

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