Featured Member: Pittsfield shows that public investment in the arts makes a real difference












It’s a basic principle of business that one must invest money to make money. Around the state, arts and cultural programs and events have boosted local revenues and brought new life to struggling municipalities. Few illustrate this better than Pittsfield.

A small city at the western edge of the state, Pittsfield is a prime example of how investment in the arts brings economic benefits. Over the last few years, downtown Pittsfield’s rebirth as a center of arts, culture and nightlife has been well documented by the New York Times, the Boston Globe (more from the Globe),WBUR and other publications, and for many good reasons. Here are a few of them:

Between 2005 – shortly after the city began investing heavily in its creative economy – and 2010,

  • attendance at arts and cultural events shot up 169 percent from 225,000 to 606,239;
  • annual direct expenditures on local arts events (organizational and audience) grew by almost 49 percent, from $17 million to $25.3 million;
  • full-time equivalent jobs in the arts sector increased from 531 to 762, a growth of 44 percent;
  • local government revenue from the arts programming increased nearly 47 percent, from $738,000 to $1 million;
  • state government arts revenue also increased by 47 percent, from $781,000 to $1.1 million; and
  • collective yearly household income in Pittsfield increased by 54 percent, from $9.3 million to $14.3 million.
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  Create the Vote 2014: Electing a Governor Who is a Champion of the Arts


The race to elect the next governor of Massachusetts is picking up steam, and so is the Create the Vote campaign. The MASSCreative-led Create the Vote coalition, a growing coalition of more than 200 arts, cultural, and creative institutions, has kicked off its work with a series of regional meetings across the Commonwealth. It has brought local leaders from creative communities in Boston, Cape Cod, the Berkshires, Metro West, North Shore, Pioneer Valley, South Shore, Worcester, and the South Coast together to discuss elevating arts and culture in the gubernatorial election.

The Berkshire Eagle attended the Create the Vote meeting at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield and reported on the community’s commitment to elevating the arts in the governor’s race:

If it’s made apparent that many voters care about arts, culture and creativity, politicians will make it a priority in order to get elected, [MASSCreative Executive Director Matt] Wilson said, which has obvious implications for the Nov. 4 gubernatorial election.

This past month, we sent out Create the Vote questionnaires to the gubernatorial candidates. So far, five candidates have gotten back to us: Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Steve Grossman, and Juliette Kayyem. The questionnaire consists of seven core questions developed by leaders of the arts and cultural community here in the Commonwealth.

All of the candidates stressed the importance of transforming STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educational initiatives into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). Each of the candidates also stressed the need for the next governor’s administration to promote public-private partnerships to spur investment in arts and culture. You can read more on the Create the Vote blog.


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  House Cuts MCC by 13% - Senate Budget Up Next


On April 30, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved its budget that cut the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget 13% to a level of $9.6 million. This is a $1.5 million cut from last year’s $11.1 million budget. This cut happened despite 113 legislators - one of only two to get a House majority - supporting Rep. Cory Atkins’ amendment to increase the Commonwealth’s investment in the arts and cultural community to $16 million.

The good news is that over the past three weeks, due to the grassroots support from all of you, we successfully bumped up the budget 88% over the $5.1 million originally recommended by the House Ways and Means Committee on April 9.

The creative community raised its voice in unison -- generating more than 2,000 emails in 48 hours to secure the 113 co-sponsors, using social media to educate the public, and making hundreds of calls into the State House on Tuesday when the House was deliberating.

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  Pushing for Increased Investment in Our Cultural Facilities


The creative community celebrated a victory this November, when Governor Patrick chose to triple his annual allocation to the Cultural Facilities Fund from $5 million to $15 million. The governor’s announcement followed a four-month advocacy campaign led by the creative community, which involved over 200 arts and cultural institutions, mayors and chambers of commerce and over 1200 individuals across Massachusetts. The community clearly supports the Cultural Facilities Fund and understands the impact our cultural institutions have on our communities and our economy.

As the legislature considers the reauthorization of the Fund for another five years, MASSCreative is working to make sure that arts and cultural leaders are included in the conversation.

On April 24, the Senate Committee on Bonding held a public hearing on the bill. MASSCreative’s Senior Campaign Organizer, Tracie Konopinski was joined by Jay Paget from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Josiah Spaulding from Citi Performing Arts Center, and Wendy Lament from Wheelock Family Theatre to testify on a panel before the Committee in support of reauthorizing the Cultural Facilities Fund for another five years. We also urged the Committee to increase the authorization from $50 million to $75 million so that the work of the creative community can continue at the level that the governor set in November with his $15 million allocation.

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  In the News and Online


mc_cms_blueSq.jpg   MASSCreative's executive director, Matt Wilson, sat down with the Boston Neighborhood Network to discuss the importance of arts funding in the community and the Create the Vote campaign’s goal to elevate arts in the gubernatorial campaign. Watch the video to get the full rundown. 

mc_cms_blueSq.jpg  Remember Kwasi Enin? The student who gained acceptance to all eight Ivy League colleges? See what he had to say about the impact of the arts on his education:

"Music has become the spark of my intellectual curiosity. I directly developed my capacity to think creatively around problems due to the infinite possibilities in music. There are millions of combinations of key signatures, chords, melodies, and rhythms ... As I began to explore a minute fraction of these combinations from the third grade onwards, my mind began to formulate roundabout methods to solve any mathematical problem, address any literature prompt, and discover any exit in an undesirable situation. ... Lastly, music has become the educator that has taught me the importance of leadership, teamwork and friendship."

Read more about Enin and his inspiring testimony to arts education on our blog. 

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 Welcome New and Renewing Members!

We’d like to welcome the following groups to the MASSCreative Action Network: 


We look forward to working with all our members as we roll out campaigns for 2014. We must build our momentum to increase state funding for the arts and ensure arts education opportunities for all our youth. 

MASSCreative is supported by institutional memberships and individual contributions which provide us with the capacity to run effective campaigns for the creative community. Please consider supporting us.

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up yet, join here.

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