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.


The House Debate: Recap

On Monday, October 25, the House Ways and Means Committee released its $3.65B ARPA spending proposal. The proposal included $125 million specifically allocated for arts and cultural sector recovery - a meaningful sign that House Ways and Means heard our advocacy messages! 

Over the following two days, more than 1130 amendments were filed by State Representatives to increase existing spending allocations, direct (or earmark) specific amounts to projects or change language in the bill. Of those 1130, 128 amendments were filed to earmark a portion of the $125M arts and cultural recovery allocation, totalling over $90M.

Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth), Vice Chair of the House Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development filed amendment #109, to increase the arts and cultural recovery amount from $125 million to $175 million. Thanks to nearly 1,000 arts and cultural advocates, over half of the House signed on to Rep. Dylan Fernandes’ amendment. While this amendment ultimately was not adopted in the final version of the bill, this strong show of support from state representatives demonstrates the power of our shared advocacy. When we unite together for change it makes a difference.

Additionally, we wish to thank Rep. Carole Fiola, Chair of the House Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development for leading arts and cultural advocacy within the House. Both Chair Fiola and Vice Chair Fernandes have played an important role advocating to their colleagues and House leadership on the necessity of including arts and cultural sector recovery in the House ARPA spending bill. 

The Final House Bill

On Friday, October 29, 2021 the House finished debate on its ARPA spending plan (H.4219) and unanimously passed the bill. The $3.82 billion spending package includes spending for increased housing production, infrastructure projects and economic development investments including $125 million for arts and cultural recovery related grants to individual artists and cultural organizations. 

We are pleased to share that within the final version none of the $125 million for arts and cultural recovery and stability grant funds were earmarked for specific projects or organizations! That means, should this be included in the final version of the bill that is signed by Governor Baker, the full amount would be transferred to the Mass Cultural Council to support individual artists and cultural organizations through an equitable grant program. 

In order for our arts and cultural community to better serve all residents of the Commonwealth, our entire ecosystem must be stabilized. Thats why MASSCreative is committed to advocating for the equitable distribution of public recovery investments. 

Please note, earmarks related to specific arts and cultural projects and organizations were included in the final bill, see the end of this blog post for a chart of included earmarks.

What’s Next?

The Senate Ways and Means is expected to release their ARPA spending proposal the week of November 1, which will then go through the same process as the House, with Senators having the opportunity to file amendments to the proposal. Once the Senate passes their final version, the House and Senate versions will be reconciled (aka negotiated to match in allocation amounts and language) through the conference committee process.

After the Legislature passes their final version, it will go to Governor Baker for his signature. Based on reporting and conversations, we have reason to believe the legislature is eager to complete the ARPA spending plan by the end of the calendar year.

MASSCreative’s ARPA Priorities

While we were pleased to see the arts and cultural sectors recovery included in the final version of the House proposal, we will continue to advocate for the full $575 million recommended by the COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission. 

This includes:

$375 Million - Recovery and Reopening Grant Programs to be administrated by the Mass Cultural Council

  • $75 million for grant funding to independent, for-profit venues, and cultural service organizations to support recovery and stabilization funding, prevent closures, rebuild and reopen distributed by Mass Cultural Council
  • $100 million for grant funds to individual, practicing artists to support their career recovery and professional development distributed by Mass Cultural Council
    • Including ease of application process to remove barriers to more artists, ensuring equity
    • Any grant funding tool should ensure access for BIPOC, non-English speaking, and diverse immigrant communities
  • $100 million for grant funding for non-profit and municipal performing arts organizations, cultural service organizations, and venues to support recovery and stabilization funding to prevent closures, rebuild and reopen distributed by Mass Cultural Council
  • $100million for grant funding for museums, visual arts, humanities, cultural service organizations, and cultural heritage organizations to support recovery and stabilization funding to prevent closures, rebuild and reopen distributed by Mass Cultural Council.

$40 million - Statewide Marketing Campaign

$60 million - Infrastructure and Equipment Upgrade Investments

$100 Million - Workforce Development, Youth Education and Community Development Incentives.

Read the COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission Report

Join us in our continued advocacy by signing up for our mailing list, we will keep you updated on actions you can take, data you can use and opportunities to adovcate. 

Final House Bill Earmarks 

Below are earmarks included in the Final House ARPA Bill that relate to arts and cultural organizations and projects. These earmarks do not come out of the $125M allocated for arts and cultural recovery to be distributed by the Mass Cultural Council through grant programs.

Organization Amount Organization Amount
Edward M. Kennedy Institute: to continue offering civic education programming to the public $5,000,000 Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway: for the Cross street revitalization including a North End Italian immigrant memorial on the corner of Cross and Hanover street coordinated through the Freedom Train foundation and the Boston Arts Commission $1,300,000
Commonwealth Zoological Corporation: for a solar array and outdoor programs and exhibit upgrades at the Walter D. Stone Memorial Zoo $1,000,000 New England Aquarium Corporation: for maintenance upgrades and other improvements including those necessary for the operation of facilities operated in the cities of Boston and Quincy $1,000,000
Boston Arts Summer Institute: to operate the Massachusetts Arts Stagecraft Initiative to support the theater arts and entertainment industry directly impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic, through job training, workforce development and diversification $500,000 New England Historic Genealogical Society $500,000
Creative Hub Worcester: for the renovation of Creative Hub Worcester $350,000 Boch Center: for capital improvements needed to safely reopen the Wang and Shubert theatres located in Boston $300,000
Major Taylor Museum Worcester: for the construction of the Museum $300,000 Basketball Hall of Fame and Springfield College: for a partnership to explore the intersection of basketball and social justice $250,000
Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts Victory Theatre Performing Arts Center: for the Pioneer Valley Economic Revitalization Project $250,000 City of Lowell, for the installation of an entry archway to Cambodia Town $200,000
New Bedford Cape Verdean Association $200,000 The Paul Revere Museum of Discovery and Innovation $200,000
Charlestown Working Theatre; for capital improvements and ventilation upgrades $200,000 Zeiterion Performing Arts Center $200,000
New England Public Media, Inc.: for community engagement and education space $200,000 Gloucester Celebration Corporation: for the planning and celebration of the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Gloucester $175,000
Lexington Historical Society: for remodeling the historic Lexington Depot community building to improve public access and community engagement $150,000 New Bedford Art Museum



Boston Architectural College: for hosting the Doshi Exhibit $100,000 Cape Verdean Cultural Center: to establish the nonprofit organization to oversee the construction and management of the cultural center $100,000

Springfield Museums: for exhibitions, upgrades and programs that explain and promote understanding of the history and significance of minority populations and include a Latino Arts Festival which incorporates a permanent exhibit


Northampton Arts Trust: for the completion of its black box theater

Lynn Memorial Auditorium: for tourism and cultural enhancements $100,000 Friends of the Public Garden: for hosting the unveiling of the restored Shaw Memorial $75,000
Tilden House Preservation, Town of Canton $75,000 Fall River Arts & Culture Coalition: to provide programming for arts and culture projects committed to equity, accessibility and collaboration in Fall River $75,000
Pilgrim Hall Museum; for an economic lifeline $75,000 Spire Center for Performing Arts: for architectural, engineering, and preservation consultants $75,000
Town of Sheffield; for the construction of a monument dedicated to Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman $75,000 District Center for the Arts in Taunton $56,000
New Bedford Historical Society in New Bedford $50,000 Town of Wrentham: for the celebration of its 350th Anniversary $50,000
Samuel Slater Experience Museum: to establish a transportation support fund for K-12 public school systems to attend educational programs at the museum $50,000 Town of Ludlow: 250th Cultural Celebration $50,000
AHA! Art, History & Architecture of New Bedford
Polish American Citizens Club: to rebuild the club in order to host cultural events and help recover from the negative impacts of the 2019 novel coronavirus $50,000
Middlesex Canal Museum: for capital improvements and renovation $50,000 Billerica Historical Society: for capital improvements for historic sites in the city of Billerica $50,000
Downtown Amherst Foundation: for the development of The Drake, a performing arts and cultural venue $50,000 Jones River Village Historical Society: to offset lost revenue due to the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic $25,000
People for Riverbend Park Trust: for a marker commemorating the contributions of Frederick Law Olmsted and Charles Eliot to Riverbend park in Cambridge $25,000    

Data Source: H.4219 Consolidated Amendment "D"

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published this page in Reach out to your State Legislators 2021-11-01 16:52:02 -0400

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