Arts and Cultural Leaders Launch Statewide Campaign to Advance Priorities of Creative Sector in Governor’s Race

Create the Vote 2022 Will Host Statewide Candidate Forum Aug. 3 in Worcester 

June 14, 2022—The Massachusetts cultural community today launched the Create the Vote MA 2022 Coalition (CTVMA) to ensure candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor understand and support the state’s growing creative economy and its artists, organizations, and workers.

CTVMA now comprises 36 organizations representing the state’s racially, linguistically, and geographically diverse population who’ve joined the campaign to elevate the voices, contributions, and concerns of the arts, cultural, and creative workforce throughout the 2022 campaign. This new campaign builds on a nearly decade-long effort by MASSCreative and its allies to position the creative sector as a vital contributor to economic prosperity, community vitality, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, across Massachusetts. 

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MASSCreative Announces Inaugural Cohort of Create the Vote Fellows

 Year-long learning community for grassroots organizers will focus on building and sustaining political power in Massachusetts’ arts and cultural sector

Boston, February 15, 2022―MASSCreative announces that nine artists and creative leaders have been selected to participate in the first class of Create the Vote Fellows. The Create the Vote Fellowship is a yearlong learning community for grassroots organizers focused on building advocacy, creating knowledge, and sustaining political power in Massachusetts’ arts and cultural sector.

“Art and culture are a public good deserving of public support. Yet politicians and other decision makers often take the contributions of cultural organizations, artists, their creations, and the nearly infinite ways in which they make life worth living for granted,” said Emily Ruddock, Executive Director of MASSCreative. “Create the Vote Fellows will be trained in the strategy and tactics of effective political advocacy and organizing. They will learn how to build and sustain political power to ensure public investment and attention to the arts and cultural organizations and people who contribute so much to the quality of our lives and the health of our communities.”

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Governor’s budget recognizes need among artists and cultural nonprofits

BOSTON, January 26, 2022—Today, Gov. Charlie Baker released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023. In it, he recommends allocating $20.4 million for the Mass Cultural Council, which is a slight increase over the FY22 annual allocation ($20M). MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response: 

“This is a great start, and we applaud Gov. Baker for recognizing the depth of need among artists and arts and cultural nonprofits. Since March 2020 and the pandemic-related closure of museums and stages and the cancellation of musical performances, plays, and other live performances, 981 arts and cultural nonprofit organizations—which represent a sliver of the state’s creative economy—have reported $588.3 million in pandemic-related losses. Nearly 3,000 creative workers in Massachusetts lost over $30 million during that same time.

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Arts and cultural community deeply disappointed in Senate ARPA bill

BOSTON, November 4, 2021—Yesterday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its plan to disburse $3.67 billion of the more than $5 billion in federal funds allocated to Massachusetts via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The bill sets aside $75 million for restoration and support of the arts and cultural sector. 

“We are deeply disappointed with this recommendation. Arts and cultural organizations were the first to shut down in March, 2020 and many of them have yet to reopen, which means that they are well into their second straight year of not being able to put on the performances that bring in revenue. Artists and independent creative workers lost gigs and personal income almost overnight. Every organization and worker in this sector, regardless of how well-resourced at the start of the pandemic is hurting now, with BIPOC-led organizations bearing the brunt of the damage,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “MASSCreative will partner with artists and arts and cultural supporters across the Commonwealth to support Amendment #2, which would increase the allocation to $200 million and ensure artists are eligible for recovery assistance. The Amendment was filed by State Senator Ed Kennedy (D-Lowell), Chair of the Senate Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee. Chair Kennedy has been a champion for working artists and the arts and cultural sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Arts and cultural community disappointed in House ARPA bill; will support amendment to increase pandemic relief

BOSTON, October 26, 2021—This week, the House Ways and Means Committee released its plan to disburse $3.65 billion of the more than $5 billion in federal funds allocated to Massachusetts via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The bill sets aside $125 million for restoration and support of the arts and cultural sector.

MASSCreative will partner with artists and arts and cultural supporters across the Commonwealth to support amendment #109, which would increase the allocation to $175 million. The amendment was filed by Rep. Dylan Fernandes, House Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, who has been a champion for working artists and the arts and cultural sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission Releases Recommendations

BOSTON – The COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission released its final report today, concluding in a series of recommendations to the Legislature that include the utilization of $575 million of the $5.3 billion in federal funding received by the state through the American Rescue Plan to address the recovery of the creative and cultural sector over the next four years, as well as several additional policy recommendations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for the Commonwealth's arts and cultural institutions, with the latest figures coming from the Mass Cultural Council showing a loss of $588 million by non-profit and municipal cultural organizations and $30.4 million in lost revenue reported by individual artists, teaching artists, and scientists/humanists from March 2020 to April 2021. 

In addition to adding a great deal to our quality of life, arts and culture represent a significant economic sector in our state that we must help rebound and rebuild in the coming months and years. Prior to the pandemic, arts nonprofits in the Commonwealth supported more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generating more than $2.2 billion in total spending and bringing in nearly $100 million in state tax revenue.  The Massachusetts arts and cultural industries generated over 25 billion dollars for the U.S. GDP in 2019 alone. There are nearly 310,000 people employed by the creative economy in New England, with nearly half employed in cultural institutions providing close to 150,000 creative economy jobs in Massachusetts. 

 

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MASSCreative statement on Baker Administration’s plan to distribute American Rescue Plan stimulus funds to municipalities

BOSTON, June 17, 2021—Today, Gov. Charlie Baker announced plans to invest $2.8 billion in federal COVID-19 funding from the American Rescue Plan to support economic recovery in communities hit hardest by pandemic. The plan allocates $450 million in direct economic development efforts, with $100 million reserved for cultural facilities and tourism assets. MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response: 

“These funding choices are incredibly disappointing and do not reflect lessons learned over the last year about the ways in which art kept people connected throughout COVID as well as the ways that systemic racism contributes to inequities throughout our civic and cultural institutions. By choosing to only focus on a part of the arts and cultural sector hundreds of organizations - not to mention creative workers and artists - will be cut off from American Rescue Plan funds that are desperately needed to reopen and rehire people. 

“Without bold, comprehensive public funding for reopening the arts and cultural sector, Massachusetts stands to lose key members of the vibrant arts and cultural community that have long been an economic engine in cities and towns throughout the state. Before the pandemic, cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts supported more than 73,000 full time jobs, generated over $2.3 billion in total spending, and brought in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues. Every dollar spent by an arts and cultural organization generates $2.30 in sales for nearby businesses, and in 2018, there were more than 21 million attendees for art and cultural events in the Greater Boston area, which is more than four times that for all major Boston sporting events combined.

“Community-based arts activities build bridges across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that many other forms of civic engagement do not. Throughout the pandemic, arts organizations found creative ways to keep people connected and have been vital to sustaining personal and community connections.

The pandemic has devastated the arts and cultural sector, which has reported over $588 million in lost revenue. Sector reported reopening costs for arts and cultural organizations is estimated to be more than $100 million. Immediate assistance is needed to pay for the technological innovations needed to safely reopen, re-create jobs, and sustain and advance racial diversity and equity and diversity of programming in arts and cultural organizations across the state.”

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House proposes $1.8M increase in arts and cultural funding

BOSTON, April 14, 2021—Today, the House Ways and Means Committee recommended funding the Mass Cultural Council at $20 million, which would be a $1.8 million increase over last year’s budget. It would also be the largest public investment in the arts and cultural sector by the state since Fiscal Year 2002 when the state allocated $23.9 million to the Mass Cultural Council. MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response:

“We are incredibly grateful to House Speaker Ron Mariano, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, and Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee House Chair Carole Fiola for their leadership in both recognizing and responding to the dire need of arts and cultural organizations and artists throughout Massachusetts.  

“Since March 2020 and the pandemic-related closure of our museums and stages and the cancellation of musical performances, plays, and other live performances, nearly 900 arts and cultural nonprofit organizations—which represent a sliver of the state’s creative economy—have reported $588.3 million in pandemic-related losses. Individual creative workers in Massachusetts lost over $30 million during that same time. Organizations led by Black Indigenous, and People of Color have been especially hard hit.

“The state’s ultimate economic recovery from the pandemic will be tied to the health of these organizations as they drive the state’s tourism industry as well as economic activity in our local neighborhoods. Before the pandemic, arts and cultural nonprofits generated over $2.3 billion in spending, brought in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues, and supported more than 73,000 full time jobs.

“The mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our communities is also tied to the health of arts and cultural organizations, which have found creative ways to keep people connected over the past year. They have offered virtual performances at no cost, outdoor performances, and free music, dance, and theatre instruction via Zoom for vulnerable youth.

This public investment in arts and culture is also an investment in ensuring full public access and representation in art, as the Mass Cultural Council prioritizes grant-making across diverse racial, linguistic, ethic, socioeconomic, and geographic communities.

“As we come out of the pandemic, we are going to need every tool at our disposal to revive the economy, bring people together again, and proactively work for racial equity. The arts and cultural sector will be central to these efforts. We applaud House leadership for ensuring that our artists and arts and cultural organizations will have the support they need.”

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MASSCreative, Mass Live Events Coalition Testify Before Joint Committee; Call for Passage of Cultural Futures Act

Groups cite urgent need among arts and cultural organizations

BOSTON, April 9, 2021—Today, leaders in the tourism, arts, and cultural industries from across the state testified before the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development on the impact of COVID-19 and necessary recovery measures needed. At the top of the list was passage of the Cultural Futures Act, which would set aside $200 million of the more than $8 billion that Massachusetts will receive from the American Rescue Plan, the new federal COVID-19 relief bill passed into law in March, for stabilization grants for arts and cultural organizations throughout the state.

“The arts and cultural sector needs significant and meaningful public support now to ensure its survival in the future. The state’s ultimate economic recovery is tied to the health of large cultural institutions like the Tanglewood and the New England Aquarium, alongside smaller, community-based organizations,” said Emily Ruddock, Executive Director of MASSCreative. “These smaller arts and cultural organizations especially drive local economies in our cities and towns, bring people together, and build bridges across neighborhood, racial, ethnic, and class divides. As we come out of the pandemic, we are going to need every tool at our disposal to revive the economy and bring people together again. The arts and cultural sector will be central to these efforts.”

Since March 2020 and the pandemic-related closure of arts and cultural venues in Massachusetts, nearly 900 arts and cultural nonprofit organizations—which represent a sliver of the state’s robust creative economy—have reported $588.3 million in pandemic-related losses, and individual creative workers in Massachusetts lost over $30 million during that same time. Organizations led by Black Indigenous and People of Color have been especially hard hit.

Thomas Whelan, President of the Massachusetts Live Events Coalition, a state Chapter of the National Live Events Coalition, said that nearly 60 percent of live event business owners will have closed their doors by the summer of 2021, even after the latest round of PPP loans, if they do not receive additional, immediate financial relief.

“These business owners will have depleted their life savings, lost their family homes, vehicles, and taken on massive debts to try and stay afloat,” Whelan said. “Our workforce, despite a recorded average of 20 years’ professional working experience, have gone from 5 am work call times to standing in food lines, due to food insecurity.”

Approximately 300,000 Massachusetts residents were employed in the live events field before the pandemic as event planners, trade show managers, ushers, caterers, entertainers, valets, and professionals in audio visual, lighting, floral, décor, staging, ticketing, and security.

Before the pandemic, arts and cultural nonprofits also generated over $2.3 billion in spending, brought in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues, and supported more than 73,000 full time jobs. In Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester—communities hard hit by COVID-19—arts and cultural nonprofits supported 500, 1,875, and 4.062 full-time jobs, respectively. In Lowell, arts and cultural organizations generated over $12 million in total spending, bringing in $478,000 in local tax revenue. In Springfield, they generated nearly $50 million in total spending, and $2.2 million in local tax revenue. In Worcester, generated over $125 million in total spending and $4.4 million in local tax revenue.

Ruddock added that the systemic racism in health care laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic was also evident in the arts and cultural sector. “Culturally-specific arts and cultural organizations that were underfunded and under-resourced prior to the pandemic due to structural racism face even more challenges to survive post-pandemic,” Ruddock said. “That is why it is especially important that the Commonwealth Cultural Future Act directs distribution of grants to consider racial diversity and equity, as well as geographic diversity, and programmatic diversity.”

The Cultural Futures Act would establish a Massachusetts Cultural Economy COVID-19 Recovery Fund that will be administered by the Mass Cultural Council. The funds will be disbursed through grants to cultural organizations, both non-profit and for profit, as well as individual creative workers. Grants will consider racial diversity and equity, geographic diversity, and programmatic diversity within the cultural sector. They will also prioritize economic need and recipients’ economic impact in terms of job creation and tourism spending prior to March 2020.

 

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MASSCreative Lauds $200M Cultural Sector Stabilization Fund

Artists, Creative Workers and Cultural Organizations of all Sizes, Representing Residents throughout the Commonwealth, Unite in Support of this COVID-19 Recovery Bill 

BOSTON, March 1, 2021—MASSCreative announces today that it supports “An Act to Rebuild the Commonwealth’s Cultural Future,” which would create a $200 million stabilization fund for the state’s cultural sector. The money for the fund would be allocated from any federal dollars Massachusetts receives this year for COVID-19 recovery efforts. The bill was filed by State Sen. Ed Kennedy in response to immense pandemic-related need among arts, cultural, and creative organizations across the Commonwealth. 

“The state’s ultimate economic recovery is tied to the health of large cultural institutions like the Tanglewood and the New England Aquarium, alongside smaller, community-based organizations like Elevated Thought, Creative Collective, the Makanda Project, and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “These organizations across the state are in urgent need of financial support to weather the on-going pandemic and MASSCreative is grateful that Chairman Kennedy is leading efforts in Massachusetts to create a COVID-19 recovery and stabilization plan for the creative cultural organizations that drive our economy.” 

“The arts and cultural sector is a vital component of the Massachusetts economy and is essential to the fabric of life in the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Kennedy, who is Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the cultural sector, and this rescue package is an essential step in restoring the Massachusetts cultural economy.” 

The bill would establish a Massachusetts Cultural Economy COVID-19 Recovery Fund that will be administered by the Mass Cultural Council. The funds will be disbursed through grants to cultural organizations, both non-profit and for profit, as well as individual creative workers. Grants will consider racial diversity and equity, geographic diversity, and programmatic diversity within the cultural sector. They will also prioritize economic need and recipients’ economic impact in terms of job creation and tourism spending prior to March 2020. 

“The Commonwealth’s economy cannot bounce back from the devastating impacts of this pandemic until our cultural sector is authorized to safely reengage with the public and fully resume its once booming activity,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director of the Mass Cultural Council, which has collected detailed financial data from arts organizations documenting the effects of the pandemic. “Robust public investment is urgently needed to catalyze long-term recovery efforts to stabilize our sector. This will have a tremendous effect on the overall state economy. We are grateful to Chairman Kennedy for his leadership and vision and recognize the powerful advocacy MASSCreative will execute to build statewide support for this proposal.” 

Since last March, nearly 900 nonprofit and municipal cultural organizations, which represent a sliver of the state’s robust creative economy, have reported pandemic-related losses of over $483 million and individual working creatives, many of whom are self-employed, have lost over $20 million in personal income. Organizations led by Black Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) have been especially hard hit

Maurice Emmanuel Parent and Dawn M. Simmons, co-founders of The Front Porch Arts Collective said that cultural entrepreneurs of color are struggling under the weight of two pandemics—the coronavirus and systemic racism. 

“We’ve lost loved ones, homes, jobs, and the feeling of safety and acceptance in our society. But many BIPOC-led arts organizations are small and in their early phases of development and were under-resourced to begin with,” Parent said. 

Simmons added: “We cannot leave these organizations to fend for themselves. They need impactful public investment to survive these challenging times and then thrive in the post-pandemic world we are all working toward.” 

Although the proposed $200 million relief fund would not begin to cover the extent of what’s been lost over the past year, arts and cultural leaders across the state are calling for its passage. 

“The pandemic-related financial losses absorbed by museums and other cultural facilities across the Commonwealth have had adverse ripple effects on their communities, local economies, schools, and citizens,” said Dan Yaeger, Executive Director of the New England Museum Association. “This bill will help mitigate the damage and allow cultural institutions to resume the important role they play in people’s lives.” 

"Financial relief is essential to ensuring that the Williamstown Theatre Festival can continue to serve as a vital economic driver for our region, a creative home for our country's most renowned theatre artists, and a generative force for the entire American theatre industry," said Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival. 

“There has been almost no financial support for independent venues that host live events,” said JJ Gonson of the coalition Save MA Stages. “Relief now will mean the difference between being able to reopen versus permanently closing. Live performance brings people together for joyful and fulfilling experiences. If the places that used to host live music, dance, theater, poetry readings, and so much more aren’t there once it’s safe to reopen, our communities will be even worse off than they already are.” 

As we enter into a period of rebuilding and recovery our industry will need inclusive and swift action from our Commonwealth's elected leaders, which is why we support Sen. Kennedy’s bill,” said Thomas Whelan, President of the Massachusetts Live Events Coalition. “Without public investment, organizations that make up the state’s creative sector will not survive this prolonged shutdown of arts and culture.” 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, arts and cultural organizations have been vital to sustaining personal and community connections. The Makanda Project, a 13-piece jazz ensemble, carefully choreographed live events for small audiences that were streamed online to a wider audience of fans at home. In the fall, the Worcester Chamber Music Society live streamed six concerts drawing 100 people per performance. The organization also maintained its program of free lessons in violin, viola, and cello to youth from impoverished neighborhoods by building online portals for parents and students. The Theatre Offensive wrote and staged two original plays and live streamed them to audiences. 

“Those of us who work in the arts do it not just for love of the discipline. We’re in it for the way art makes us feel and the connections we foster across communities,” said Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Executive Director Craig Coogan, whose organization launched [email protected] to keep its audiences engaged with one another over the last year. “All of these technical and artistic innovations we’ve seen throughout the pandemic have been lifelines for countless people suffering alone at home. But this work has been subsidized almost entirely by individuals. That’s not sustainable. Art is vital to the health and well-being of the public and it deserves public investment.”

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