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.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee Releases their Plan

On Wednesday, November 3, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released a $3.67B ARPA spending proposal. The proposed spending included significant investments in mental health resources as well as $75 million specifically allocated for arts and cultural organizations recovery to be distributed by the Mass Cultrual Council, our state arts agency. 

The Senate Ways and Means arts and cultural recovery proposal was $50 million less than the House allocation and omitted artists as eligible for recovery assistance.

Senate Debate

More than 700 amendments were filed by State Senators for specific spending earmarks, policy recommendations and corrections to language included in the Senate Ways and Means proposal.

We are thankful for Senator Edward J. Kennedy (D-Lowell), Co-Chair of the Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee, who filed Amendment #49. The Amendment would increase the arts and cultural recovery allocation to $200 Million and add artists as a qualified group for recovery grant awards.  

Over the course of Senate debate amendments were adopted (included in the legislation), rejected or withdrawn. When a Senator withdraws an amendment that usually means the amendment does not have support from Senate leadership and will not pass. Unfortunately, Senator Kennedy withdrew Amendment #49. 

This is certainly disappointing given that half the Senate signed on to co-sponsor Amendment #49. It also meant that without an additional amendment, the Senate version would restrict creative workers and artists from accessing recovery assistance funds.

The Final Version

Wednesday November 10, the Senate passed their final version of An act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs. The final version included a corrective language amendment that ensured artists were included as eligible for recovery assistance. 

This change is a direct result of our collective advocacy including emails and calls to lawmakers as well as the work we've done together over the last year and half telling our stories of impact.

As of publishing, a final version of the Senate bill is not yet available, but we will update this blog post once it is. 

What Comes Next?

With the House and Senate passing final versions of their spending plans respectively, a Conference Committee will be appointed to negotiate the differences between the two versions.

MASSCreative encourages arts and cultural supporters to urge legislators and Conference Committee members to adopt the House recommended allocation of $125 million and the House language which includes recovery support for both cultural organizations as well as individual artists. 

Final Senate Bill Earmarks

Below are earmarks included in the final Senate ARPA bill for arts and cultural organizations and specific projects. These earmarks do not come out of the $75M allocated for arts and cultural recovery allocation which will be distributed through grant programs administrated by the Mass Cultural Council. 

Organization Amount Organization Amount

Fitchburg State University: renovating the historic theatre block

$3,000,000 Commonwealth Zoological Corporation: for a solar array at the Walter D. Stone Memorial Zoo $3,000,000
Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston Inc: for capital improvements at Western Avenue Studios in the city of Lowell $1,500,000 Commonwealth Shakespeare Company: for infrastructure & equipment investments to support accessible performing arts productions $1,320,000
Arts Foundation of Cape Cod: for a 3-year arts and culture capacity-building grant programs to award mini-grants to artists for professional development, training and education. $400,000 Greater Boston Stage Company: for COVID-19 safety upgrades and other capital improvements.  $100,000
Lawrence CommunityWorks: to revitalize Lawrence's historic North Canal district through the DyeWorks project $100,000 Buckland Historical Society: For the restoration of the 1798 English Barn on the 1775 Wilder Homestead $75,000
Town of Wakefield: for accessibility upgrades at the Albion Cultural Exchange $70,000 Hudson Cultural Alliance, Inc: for the planning, construction, renovation and maintenance work at the Hudson Armory $50,000
Town of Maynard: for the benefit of ArtSpace Maynard $50,000 Little Saigon, Inc: for business supports and marketing in the Vietnamese cultural district in the city of Boston $50,000
Springfield Cultural Partnership, Inc: to cover operating costs and the costs associated with the Trust Transfer Project $40,000    


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published this page in Reach out to your State Legislators 2021-11-12 13:23:45 -0500

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