June 15 Policy Update

MASSCreative continues to monitor and report on state and federal policy that supports equitable communities and a stronger, more inclusive creative sector. Here's the Policy Update from the last week:

Elections and the Census

MASSCreative joined the Safe Elections Network, guided by the Election Modernization Coalition in support of H.4768: An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19. The bill passed the Massachusetts House on June 4 and the coalition is hoping the Senate will take swift action on this bill and the Governor will sign to ensure elections that are accessible and safe. 

From our friends at Common Cause: "The legislation takes critical steps to promote ballot access and safety in the fall’s elections, by sending mail ballot applications for both the September 1 and November 3 elections to all registered voters, creating an online portal for mail ballot applications, expanding early voting, and providing safer in-person voting on election day."

In addition to safe elections, MASSCreative is working to increase representative democracy through a full and fair count on the 2020 Census. If you haven't had the chance to respond to the Census, the self-response phase has been extended through October 31 and can be filled out at my2020census.gov. Kudos to ArtsBoston and Creatives for the Count who are organizing artists, creatives, and cultural organizations to help get out the count.

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June 10 Policy & Action Review

We have reached a moment where going back to normal is not enough. As a statewide advocacy organization, MASSCreative encourages the creative community to reckon with the current social and economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, racial injustice, and police brutality. We encourage the creative community to use its individual and collective resources to take action and build a more equitable, just future. 

We call on all creatives to reflect on the roles you play in the social change ecosystem. We encourage you to use your voice and your art to reach out to your elected officials and advocate for reform of our public health and justice systems. Allies and accomplices, we encourage you to use your resources to support, follow, and promote Black artists, and Black-founded and Black-run arts & culture organizations and creative businesses.

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Virtual Policy & Action Updates

Last Friday, in response to worldwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd, the MASSCreative team changed up our weekly Policy & Action Update to help members of the creative community reflect on the roles they play in the social change ecosystem.

Check out MASSCreative’s June 5 Policy & Action Update

Register for MASSCreative’s June 12 Policy & Action Update

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What you can do

This week, we want to use this space to highlight the work of a few organizations that have used their time and resources over the past two weeks to amplify the anti-racist work we must collectively commit to.

Anti-Racism Resources from StageSource

Black Lives Matter Resource List from SpeakEasy Stage Company

Show Your Support from Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture Boston

Black Lives Matter from Elevated Thought

Cultural Equity Learning Community from Arts Connect International

Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform

Read more about these organizations and resources in our Spotlight: Supporting Black Communities and Voices

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Policy Update

MASSCreative continues to monitor and report on state policy that supports equitable communities and a stronger, more inclusive creative sector. 

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Learn more in MASSCreative's Policy Update, including three important developments from the past week:

Reopening Plan Enters Phase 2

Public Testimony on H.4743, 'An Act Assisting Non-profits To Provide for COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits'

H.4778, 'An Act Relative to Voting Options in Response to COVID-19' Passes House

Read more in MASSCreative's Policy Update


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Action Update

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We are all being called by the current social and economic crisis to take both individual and collective action to build a more equitable, just future. 

In the coming weeks, MASSCreative, in partnership with the Theater Offensive and MassVOTE, are relaunching the nonpartisan, public education campaign Create the Vote 2020 with a deeper focus to increase civic engagement and strengthen democracy.

Sign up to receive insider updates on Create the Vote 2020

 

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Hope to see you on Friday, June 12 from 9:45-10am for our next Policy & Action Update.

If you’re looking for more COVID-19 resources, you can check out MASSCreative’s COVID-19 pages, including updates, resources, advocacy, policy recommendations, and policy & action updates.

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Spotlight: Supporting Black Communities and Voices

In the past week, we have seen a long overdue outpouring of support for the Black community--support that was rightfully prompted by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Anti-Blackness is a prejudice that pervades all aspects of life, including the arts and culture. If we are to truly stand as a creative community, we must be active in combating racism and uplifting the vibrant and irreplaceable work of our Black community members. So this week, we want use this space to highlight the work of a few organizations that have used their time and resources over the past two weeks to amplify the anti-racist work we must commit to. 

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June 10 Policy Update

 

MASSCreative continues to monitor and report on state policy that supports equitable communities and a stronger, more inclusive creative sector. Here are three important updates from the past week:

Reopening Plan Enters Phase 2

Over the weekend, Governor Baker announced Phase 2 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan to officially begin Monday June 8th. Gov. Baker was clear that continued reopening progress will be dependent on public health data. Phase 2, which will last a minimum of three weeks, is set to occur in two parts. In the first part of Phase 2, people will be allowed to go into retail stores, and restaurants will be able to serve customers outside. Childcare facilities and day camps are allowed to reopen, as well. For sector-specific reopening protocols and practices, please visit Reopening: Sector-specific Protocols and Practices.

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What role are you playing?

Many people are struggling right now. Nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have left many of us feeling angry, exhausted, and sad. Experiencing this amid the catastrophic disruptions to our creative ecosystem by COVID-19 may feel overwhelming. 

That is why we’re writing to you today. Artists and creatives have always played a role in moving cultures forward and interpreting our individual and collective experiences with the world. We all have a role to play in building a more vibrant, connected, and equitable community. 

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Artists and Healing

Artists and creatives know how to use art to express conflicting emotions at once—anger, sadness, fear—in a way that can help us make sense of tragedy and injustice.

Last week, Minneapolis artists Xena Goldman, Greta McLain, and Cadex Herrera painted a mural on the outside of the convenience store Cup Foods at 38th & Chicago. It’s where George Floyd died after a white police officer, who has since been charged with murder, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until Floyd stopped breathing. Video of the violence sparked rebellion and protest across the country this past weekend. 

Read more about the George Floyd memorial in the CityPages and StarTribune

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A role for each of us

There’s a role for each of us in rebuilding the world we inherited. What role will you and yours play?

‘Mapping Our Roles in Social Change Ecosystems’ is a framework and reflection guide, created by Deepa Iyer of Solidarity Is and Building Movement Project, to help individuals, organizations, and networks figure out their roles in pursuit of equity, shared liberation, inclusion, and justice.

On this chart, MASSCreative is a builder. That means we “develop, organize, and implement ideas, practices, people, and resources in service of a collection vision.” We often lean on the great playwright Tony Kushner to remind us why we’re here: “I am here to organize. I am here to be political. I am here to be a citizen in a pluralist democracy. I am here to be effective, to have agency, to make a claim on power, to spread it around, to rearrange it, to democratize it, to legislate it into justice. Why you? Because the world will end if you don’t act.”

Read more about Mapping our Social Change Roles in Times of Crisis

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What you can do

Never_Going_Back_Guide.pngIn the arts & culture community, we have reached a moment where going back to normal is not enough. We need to use this opportunity as a catalyst for change and take action to build a more equitable, just future. Here are some resources that we'd like to share with you.

Learn.

Talking About Race, from National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Talk about race with children.

Chalk the Walk, from Wee the People, a collaboration among the Philly Children’s Movement, MassArt's Center for Art and Community Partnerships, and Books for Littles: Raising Luminaries Kidlit

Use your art as your activism.

No Going Back: A COVID-19 Cultural Strategy Activation Guide, from The Center for Cultural Power

Engage and Donate.

Find the people and the organizations that speak to the role you want to play in the social change ecosystem. Follow them on social media, sign up for their action alerts, and engage in their activities. If you’re able, consider a donation in any amount to support their work.

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Arts Education: What you can do

The structural weaknesses in our school and justice systems have come into stark contrast because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Arts education has long been a space where young people develop emotional, social and cognitive skills that better support overall development. In this unprecedented moment of a global health pandemic, access to arts education is critical for all students, regardless of zip code.

Right now, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and its Return-to-School Working Group are developing a K-12 summer and fall restart and recovery plan. Last week, the town of Brookline notified just over 300 district educators that they may not have jobs to return to next fall, including the district's librarians, art teachers, world language and physical education teachers.

DESE needs to hear from parents, teachers, and students that dedicated time for arts education is an important part of the school day, whether students are learning remotely at home or back at school in the fall.

Take action to advocate for arts education during COVID-19

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Virtual Policy & Action Updates

Every Friday from 9:45-10am, the MASSCreative team hosts our COVID-19 Virtual Policy & Action Updates. These 15-minute updates are meant to provide you with what you need to know about COVID-19 policy advocacy and actions you can take to support the creative community. On Friday June 5, we will depart from our usual format and use Deepa Iyer's "Mapping Our Social Change Roles" to help members of the creative community reflect on the roles they play in the social change ecosystem.

Check out MASSCreative’s May 29 Policy & Action Update

Register for MASSCreative’s June 5 Policy & Action Update

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Thank you to artists, arts organizations, culture workers, and creatives for playing many roles in the social change ecosystem. We need you and appreciate you.

If you’re looking for more COVID-19 resources, you can check out MASSCreative’s COVID-19 pages, including updatesresourcesadvocacypolicy recommendations, and policy & action updates.

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May 26 Policy & Action Reveiw


Virtual Policy & Action Updates

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Every Friday from 9:45-10am, the MASSCreative team hosts our COVID-19 Virtual Policy & Action Updates. These 15-minute updates are meant to provide you with what you need to know about COVID-19 policy advocacy and actions you can take to support the creative community.

Check out MASSCreative’s May 22 Policy & Action Update

Register for MASSCreative’s May 29 Policy & Action Update

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Top Policy Update

On May 18, Gov. Baker announced a four-phase plan for reopening the Massachusetts economy based on public health measures. While some retailers and businesses started to reopen in a limited capacity on Memorial Day, we know that it will not be safe for many arts and cultural organizations and venues to reopen their spaces until Phase 3 or Phase 4.

We know many are struggling to reimagine the future while also trying to figure out when to reopen, restart, and begin to recover. MASSCreative is here to help you make sense of the MA reopening plan and direct you to some easy, effective actions.

Read more on Reopening: Four-Phase Approach

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Top Actions

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The creative community will need significant resources in order to recover during and after Massachusetts' four reopening phases. Our members of Congress play a significant role in ensuring any emergency recovery loans or programs make their way to cities and towns in MA.

Contact your Member of Congress to make sure the HEROES Act gets the attention it deserves:

Email your Members of Congress

Call your Members of Congress

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Some Good News

We at MASSCreative firmly believe that the arts should be woven into all young people’s lives. We also recognize that access to opportunities in the arts is not equal for all students, and that the pandemic has only heightened these inequities.

That’s why we were thrilled to hear about the efforts of Open Door Arts and EdVestors who, as part of Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion Initiative, distributed 4,400 art kits to students across Boston. 

Read MASSCreative’s Spotlight: Open Door Arts & EdVestors Help Equalize Access to the Arts

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So mark your calendars for every Friday from 9:45-10am and look out for this Policy & Action Review in your inbox at the start of the week. If you’re looking for more COVID-19 resources, you can check out MASSCreative’s COVID-19 pages, including updatesresourcesadvocacypolicy recommendations, and policy & action updates.

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Spotlight: Open Door Arts & EdVestors Help Equalize Access to the Arts

In last week’s Spotlight, we spoke about the effects the current public health emergency are having on students who participate in the arts. While the specific impact there is great, we at MASSCreative firmly believe that the arts should be woven into all young people’s lives. We also recognize that access to opportunities in the arts is not equal for all students, and that the pandemic has only heightened these inequities.

That’s why we were thrilled to hear about the efforts of Open Door Arts and EdVestors who, as part of Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion Initiative, distributed 4,400 art kits to students across Boston. Open Door Arts has been a longtime supporter of bringing art to youth in the community, and with a coordinated effort with BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department and funding from the Wellington Management Foundation and Liberty Mutual Foundation, the partners secured the kits with help from Crayola, and immediately set to work on putting them in the hands of students. The kits are being distributed in two ways, with an emphasis on increasing equity and fulfilling need; some are being delivered directly to the homes of students and some are being made available through meal distribution sites. The distribution was made possible with aid from the Mayor’s Office of the City Boston,  Northeastern University, Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF), and the YMCA of Greater Boston.

This incredible undertaking is in addition to other programs that were created under the umbrella of the BPS Arts Expansion during the current public health emergency, with the help of partners like Open Door Arts. Online arts classes have become a staple for many students, and #BPSArtsChallenge is constantly encouraging students to flex their creative muscles. Now, even more students can participate, thanks to the equalizing efforts of so many incredible organizations.

At MASSCreative, we believe in the strength of partnership and activating networks to uplift communities. The collaboration between Open Door Arts, Edvestors, and so many more organizations is the perfect demonstration of what can be accomplished when we work together towards a common goal for the benefit of those around us. We’re proud to see the community come together to support the youth of our City, joined by the belief that the arts matter to us all. 

Read more about the Initiative at Edify - WBUR

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Reopening MA: What it means for the creative community

On May 18, Governor Baker announced a four-phase plan for reopening the Massachusetts economy based on public health measures. While some retailers and businesses will start to reopen in a limited capacity on May 25, we know that it will not be safe for many arts and cultural organizations and venues to reopen their spaces until Phase 3 or Phase 4.

We know you’re struggling to reimagine the future while also trying to figure out when your work, your organization, and the creative community can reopen, restart, and begin to recover. As a statewide arts and culture advocacy organization, MASSCreative is here to help you make sense of the MA reopening plan and direct you to some easy, effective actions you can take to support the creative community.

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Main take-aways from the Reopening Plan


Massachusetts’ arts and culture sector will be among its last to reopen, with many organizations unable to safely reopen until Phase 3 or 4. In the meantime, organizations and individuals must follow public health directives to ensure that reopening proceeds as planned. 

Reopening Phases and what it looks like for arts and culture organizations:

Phase 1 (May 18): Zoos, outdoor gardens, public installations, and drive-in theaters
Phase 2: Some outdoor performances, maybe some outdoor venue
Phase 3: Museums, performance venues (concert halls, theaters)
Phase 4: Large venues (arenas, stadiums, night clubs—in process of defining large venues)

All employers, employees, and individuals must adhere to collective safety standards and practices. Each sector, industry, and business must follow guidance from state administration. Both statewide and sector-specific practices will be provided. Businesses will only be eligible to reopen if they comply with all mandatory safety standards. Before reopening, all businesses must develop written COVID-19 control plans.

Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks and could last longer. Only when public health data standards are met will the next phase begin. If we assume that no negative trends in the data cause returns to prior phases, the earliest the phases would begin would be May 18 for Phase 1, June 8 for Phase 2, June 29 for Phase 3, and July 20 for Phase 4. 

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MASSCreative Recommendations

 

 

Given the requirements of the reopening plan, it’s clear the creative community will need to collectively advocate in order for arts and culture to remain a vital part of everyday life in MA.

Here are MASSCreative’s recommendations and asks to federal, state, and municipal decision-makers:

  • Include the creative sector in developing discipline & venue-specific guidelines so that organizations can adequately apply the reopening mandates to their work.

  • Access to PPE, sanitation supplies, and contact tracing protocols to keep our artists, staff, and communities safe.

  • Access to financial supports and small business assistance to protect the creative sector through full reopening.

  • When it is safe for the creative sector to reopen and gather in large groups, we will need Massachusetts and its cities and towns to coordinate statewide & municipal messaging campaigns to rebuild consumer confidence

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Reopening Resources

Victor "MARKA27" Quinonez's mural on Exchange Street in Lynn, MA


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Take Action

With most arts and cultural organizations unable to reopen to Phase 3 or 4, it’s clear that the creative community will need significant resources in order to recover during and after these reopening phases. Our members of Congress play a significant role in ensuring any emergency recovery loans or programs make their way to cities and towns in MA.

On Mass Cultural Council's May 20 Town Hall Forum, Congressman McGovern emphasized the importance of the federal HEROES Act in addressing the creative community's needs.

Contact your Member of Congress to make sure the HEROES Act gets the attention it deserves:

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May 18 Policy & Action Review

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Virtual Policy & Action Updates

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Every Friday from 9:45-10am, the MASSCreative team hosts our COVID-19 Virtual Policy & Action Updates. These 15-minute updates are meant to provide you with what you need to know about COVID-19 policy advocacy and actions you can take to support the creative community.

Check out MASSCreative’s May 15 Policy & Action Update

Register for MASSCreative’s May 22 Policy & Action Update

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Top Policy Update

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Today at 11AM, Gov. Baker and the Reopening Advisory Board will release their guidelines for reopening the Massachusetts economy using a four-phase approach, based on public health guidance.

In response, MASSCreative will be outlining how federal, state, and municipal decision-makers can ensure the arts and cultural sector recovers during and after the reopening phases. As this news develops, look to MASSCreative's website and social media for updates.

Read more on the Four-Phase Approach to Reopening the Massachusetts Economy

 

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Top Actions

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Look out for an upcoming Action Alert in response to Gov. Baker's reopening guidelines that you can sign and share with your networks.

The action alert will outline MASSCreative's recommendations including:

  • Clear discipline & venue-specific guidelines for reopening
  • Access to PPE, sanitation supplies, and contact tracing protocols
  • Sustained financial support through full reopening
  • Coordinated State & Municipal Messaging Campaigns to rebuild consumer confidence

Prep to Share our Action Alert 

Prep your Personal Story

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Some Good News

In Framingham Public Schools, learning has gone remote like every other district across Massachusetts. But under the leadership of Donna Wresinski, the Fine and Performing Arts Department has set up an exciting initiative for its students to make the best of their new virtual situation.

Read MASSCreative’s Spotlight on Framingham Public Schools Fine & Performing Arts Department

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So mark your calendars for every Friday from 9:45-10am and look out for this Policy & Action Review in your inbox at the start of the week. If you’re looking for more COVID-19 resources, you can check out MASSCreative’s COVID-19 pages, including updatesresourcesadvocacypolicy recommendations, and policy & action updates.

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Spotlight: Framingham Schools Bring the Arts to Their Students’ Homes

The past two months have been difficult for students across the Commonwealth; as schools shut down due to the public health emergency, classes were moved online, proms were cancelled, and important milestones now must be celebrated in the safety of living rooms. For arts students and educators, the transition has been particularly difficult, as the in-person interactions that make arts and performance classes so rich now must be conducted through a screen. But despite these difficulties, some educators are going above and beyond to give their students the arts education they deserve.

In Framingham Public Schools, learning has gone remote like every other district across Massachusetts. But under the leadership of Donna Wresinski, the Fine and Performing Arts Department has set up an exciting initiative for its students to make the best of their new virtual situation. Each week, students and teachers are treated to an online workshop with a celebrity professional in the field, featuring interactive participation and in-depth Q&As. The staff is tapping into every connection they have to bring their students one-of-a-kind opportunities, even if they can’t be there in-person. Actors, singers, dancers, agents– students will meet them all! 

And to keep their creative gears going, the department has devised a new challenge for their students and students across the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild. Entitled the METG 40 to 1 Challenge, student companies are encouraged to take their 40 minute festival pieces, shave them down to a single minute, and share them with the world. Framingham launched the initiative with their 1 minute rendition of Mary Zimmerman’s Argonautika, and five more schools are up next for the challenge.

The arts are a vital part of our students’ education, and the difficulties caused by pandemic make it very easy for them to be left behind. But now more than ever, our students need the joy, expression, and release the arts provide. We at MASSCreative celebrate the outstanding efforts of Framingham Public Schools Fine and Performing Arts Department to keep the arts in their students’ lives and develop innovative opportunities to learn and be creative. Schools may be closed, but arts education continues on vibrantly.

Read more about the Initiative in the Framingham Source

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