Policy Watch: Advocating for A More Creative Massachusetts

MASSCreative works to advance policies that encourage the creation of art and access to cultural experiences for residents across the Commonwealth. On June 25, MASSCreative’s Interim Executive Director, Emily Ruddock, spent the day testifying for policies to encourage more creativity and artistic expression in the Commonwealth--first, at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, and later at the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. 

In the morning, Ruddock attended the board meeting of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to speak in support of adopting the revised Arts Curriculum Frameworks. On behalf of the Arts for All Coalition, Ruddock encouraged the board to adopt the Curriculum Frameworks as an essential next step in providing young people a quality in-school sequential arts education. The Arts Curriculum Frameworks--which have not been updated since 1999--are the guides used by districts and schools to develop local arts education curricula for each artistic discipline. Over the past two years, the Arts for All Coalition worked with Department of Elementary and Secondary Education staff to encourage thorough and relevant curriculum that contributes to a well-rounded education for every child, regardless of school district or zip code. 

In addition to adopting the new Curriculum Frameworks, Ruddock requested the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education support teachers in implementing the new frameworks. Ruddock offered the support and partnership of the Arts for All Coalition in this next phase of work. The Arts for All Coalition includes Arts | Learning, Mass Cultural Council, EdVestors, Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion and the Massachusetts College of Arts and Design

Kate Gilbert (left) Executive Director, Now and There and 
Emily Ruddock, 
MASSCreative Interim Executive Director prep for their testimony.

Next, Ruddock travelled to the State House for a hearing of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. There she spoke in support of bills to establish the Massachusetts Public Art Program, sponsored by Rep. Mary Keefe and Sen. Adam Hinds. The Massachusetts Public Art Program would invest approximately $2 million a year in the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. In doing so, Massachusetts would join every other New England state, along with 23 others, that invest in public art programs. During her testimony, Ruddock was joined by Kate Gilbert, Executive Director of Now + There, an organization that delivers thought-provoking public art projects that advance new definitions of public art. Gilbert spoke firsthand about the democratic nature of public art: everyone can access and appreciate work in the public realm. She also noted the transformational power public art has to spaces and neighborhoods.

IMG-0191.JPGMASSCreative Board Member and Executive Director, Worcester Cultural Coalition Erin Williams (left) and
Rep. Mary Keefe of Worcester (right) speak at the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development hearing.

While at the State House, Ruddock also submitted written testimony supporting bills filed by Rep. David Biele and Sen. James T. Welch that would exempt artistic services from the Commonwealth’s procurement process--the process through which state and municipal agencies acquire goods and services. Commissioning and selecting public art requires a very different process than the precise requirements demanded in the MA Public Procurement Act for other goods and services like paper projects and construction projects, where it often goes to the lowest bidder. Cities and towns who want to implement more public art projects on municipal-owned property find themselves hampered by the current procurement bidding requirements. These bills would add artists to a group including architects and photographers that are exempt from the procurement requirements, and would give cities and towns across Massachusetts the necessary policy change to create more public art. The Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition worked to advance these bills and lead the advocacy efforts. MASSCreative was happy to lend our support to this necessary legislation. Learn more about these bills here



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