Governor’s budget would cut funding for arts non-profits by over 10 percent

BOSTON, January 27, 2021—Today, Gov. Charlie Baker released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022. In it, he recommends allocating $16.3 million for the Mass Cultural Council, which would be 10 percent less than the Mass Cultural Council’s current budget. MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response: 

“We appreciate that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts continues to experience profound challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we are disappointed with a proposed budget that would require a 10 percent reduction in funding from the Mass Cultural Council’s current $18.2 spending level

“Throughout this pandemic, arts and cultural organizations have found creative ways to keep people connected, including virtual performances offered at no cost, outdoor performances, and free music, dance, and theatre instruction via Zoom for vulnerable youth. Non-profits of all sizes have done this work despite the pandemic-related devastation experienced by arts and cultural organizations that have collectively lost over $483 million since last March. Meanwhile, individual artists, teaching artists, and scientist/humanists have lost over $20 million in personal income. 

“The connections forged by community arts non-profits throughout the pandemic have been absolutely vital to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. As we move forward with policy prescriptions for the post-pandemic world, community connections that foster well-being will be critical. And the non-profit arts and cultural sector will be key to those efforts. 

“We look forward to working with members of the House as the FY2022 budget process proceeds. We also look forward to sharing the ways in which art, creativity, and culture have been positively affecting constituents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Boston Foundation announcement M. Lee Pelton’s appointment as The Boston Foundation President & CEO

BOSTON, December 2, 2020—The Boston Foundation has announced that M. Lee Pelton will serve as its next president and chief executive officer. MASSCreative

Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response:

“This is wonderful news, and we congratulate Lee Pelton as well as The Boston Foundation. The demands placed on our communities by the COVID-19 pandemic are unrelenting. Continuing to adapt to those needs while also planning for a comprehensive recovery that will include people of all races, genders, backgrounds, abilities, and occupations requires bold, visionary leadership from our institutional leaders. 

“Throughout his career, Lee has been just that sort of leader in education, philanthropy, racial equity, economic development, and the arts—where he has demonstrated a deep understanding of the vital role that cultural engagement plays in all aspects of civic and community life. MASSCreative is grateful for the partnerships we have developed with Lee and with Emerson College under Lee’s leadership. We have no doubt that Lee will lead with the knowledge that recovery from the pandemic requires support for art, culture, and the humanities— which bring joy, contemplative moments, and connection to our lives even as they scale the impact of economic development, education, and public health and well-being. 

“MASSCreative looks forward to working with Lee in his new role.” 

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MASSCreative launches Create the Vote 2020 with focus on civic engagement and democracy

BOSTON, June 24, 2020—MASSCreative announces today that it is launching this year’s non-partisan, grassroots Create the Vote campaign with a focus on increasing civic engagement and strengthening our democracy. Led by MASSCreative’s Create the Vote Steering Committee, the campaign will use art and culture to develop creative strategies to register people to vote, educate voters about casting ballots by mail, getting people to participate in the electoral process, advocate for safer in-person elections, and turning people out to vote. 

“Many of us are intensely focused on this year’s presidential election,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “But important decisions that affect the communities in which we live are made by local officials. These include regulations around policing, education, and public investment in community-based arts. There are many ways to build a better world, but the easiest and most effective way to make change is by electing candidates for state and local office who share your views for a racially just world in which we all have access to creative expression that reflects our lives.” 

The Create the Vote Steering Committee is led by MASSCreative, MassVOTE, and The Theater Offensive in collaboration with ArtsBoston, Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, Dunamis, Elevated Thought, Front Porch Arts Collective, Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition (MALC), the New England Museum Association, and StageSource. 

“Arts and culture help advance our society and civic life.” said Harold Steward, The Theatre Offensive’s Producing Co-Executive Director. “Through art and culture, we examine the present world, share visions of new possibilities, and take bold action steps to make these possibilities our lived reality. Engaging in voter registration, education and turnout is a natural space for artists and culture workers, because when we vote we bring forth our imaginative futures.” 

"Our fall elections will look like nothing that has ever taken place in Massachusetts before," said Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, Executive Director at MassVOTE. "More people will opt to vote by mail, and at the same time, more people will be voting early. Yet with these modifications come challenges, namely ensuring that polling places are adequately staffed, and that local election officials have the resources to handle the massive influx of mailed ballots. With this in mind, we are honored and privileged to be partnering with MASSCreative in promoting public education around our fall elections. Their unique experiences and insight will prove pivotal in our combined effort to make sure that voters have the tools they need to vote safely this fall."

“The creative ecosystem is experiencing catastrophic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are struggling to reimagine the future of our sector while also trying to manage the details of reopening, restarting, and staying financially afloat in the meanwhile,” added Ruddock. “In the midst of this, a massive, grassroots resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, in which artists have played key roles, is calling for an end to racial inequities in policing, education, and our criminal-legal system. It is incredibly important that artists, culture workers, arts and cultural organizations, and arts and culture advocates increase their civic engagement to strengthen our democracy in 2020.” 

Create the Vote is a non-partisan, grassroots campaign to engage voters and candidates for office in Massachusetts on the vital role that arts, culture and creative expression play in improving our schools, strengthening our economy, and building neighborhoods where people want to live, work, and play. MASSCreative has collaborated with arts and culture advocates on Create the Vote campaigns in communities across the Commonwealth since 2013, when its inaugural campaign elevated arts and culture issues during the 2013 Boston mayoral election. Since then, Create the Vote campaigns have supported local advocacy efforts to encourage candidates to develop cultural policies for their cities, towns, and school districts, and to lead by example by convening community leaders on the arts and by attending arts and cultural events. 

“This year’s reimagining of the Create the Vote campaign to focus on the use of art, culture, and creativity to deepen civic engagement will strengthen partnerships and collaborations across sectors,” said Ruddock. “This people-powered approach is how we create lasting change.” 

You can sign up to get Create the Vote updates here: http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv2020signup 

You can sign the #CreateTheVote pledge here: http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv2020pledge 

Follow the campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #CreateTheVote. You can also “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @MASSCreative, and visit http://www.mass-creative.org/ctv. 

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Leaders from major cultural institutions throughout Massachusetts urge Baker administration to consult with arts sector on reopening of state economy

May 1, 2020—Over 600 arts, cultural, and creative leaders in Massachusetts sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and members of the Reopening Advisory Board today urging the administration to “consult leaders of the creative and cultural sector as you develop a reopening framework.” 

Artists, cultural workers, and leaders of museums, universities, community nonprofits, and other cultural and educational institutions from around the state signed the letter, including The Museum of Fine Arts Director Matthew Teitelbaum, MASS MoCA Director Joseph C. Thompson, and Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II Executive Director Ellie Donovan. 

“The obstacles that our artists and organizations will face in reopening are incredibly challenging and it is vital that the we meet those challenges,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “Artists, museums, theaters, small community nonprofits, creative entrepreneurs, and so many others contribute billions of dollars to the state’s economy. There can be no road to recovery without the full inclusion and consideration of the creative sector.” 

Other letter signers include ArtsEmerson Executive Director David Howse and Artistic Director David Dower; Boston Ballet Executive Director Max Hodges; Boston Children’s Museum President Carole Charnow; The Boston Foundation President Paul Grogan; EcoTarium President & CEO Lucy Hale; IBA- Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción CEO Vanessa Calderon-Rosado; Isabella Stewart Gardner Director Peggy Fogelman; Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Executive & Artistic Director Pamela Tatge; Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker; Massachusetts Historical Society President Catherine Allgor; Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Njimy; Montserrat College of Art President Kurt T. Steinberg EdD and Emeritus President Stephen Immerman; Museum of Science President Tim Ritchie; New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki Spruill; and New England Foundation for the Arts Executive Director Cathy Edwards. 

“The creative and cultural sector is a necessary component to bringing our economy back on line. Governors in Utah, Texas, Ohio, and Virginia understood this importance by including and consulting the arts and cultural sector in their reopening strategy,” the letter states. 

“The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported in 2017 that arts and cultural economic activity accounts for $25.8 billion in value to Massachusetts, contributing 140,593 jobs,” it continues, noting that the study calculated both for-profit and nonprofit businesses, performing arts venues, independent contractors, and creative entrepreneurs. “The economic impact of a strong and diverse creative sector is felt throughout Massachusetts from cultural tourism in the Berkshires, Boston and Cape Cod, to downtown revitalization in gateway cities like Lynn, New Bedford and Worcester.”

“We recognize that our collective economic and communal recovery will take time and requires thoughtful planning. As small business owners and community leaders the creative sector can greatly contribute to a statewide plan that addresses our economic and public health needs now and through recovery,” the letter concludes. 

The letter can be downloaded here: http://www.mass-creative.org/covid19rabletterer

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MASSCreative calls on state lawmakers to include nonprofit arts, culture, and creative sector in COVID-19 disaster response

March 24, 2020—Today, MASSCreative joined with the Mass Cultural Council and Mass Humanities in urging state lawmakers to address the needs of the nonprofits arts, cultural, and creative sector as it works on a legislative response to the economic losses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

An online survey of artists and nonprofit organizations conducted by Mass Cultural Council in the five days following Gov. Charlie Baker’s declaration of a public health emergency estimates that the sector has already suffered dire and devastating losses: 

  • Loss of $55.7 million in anticipated revenues due to cancelled performances, shows, and exhibits for the 566 nonprofit arts organizations that completed the survey.
  • Loss of $2.8 million in anticipated revenues due to cancelled shows and performance-related gigs such as event video and photography for the 595 individuals who completed the survey.
  • Potential loss of over 8,000 jobs.

“There is no way these organizations will ever realize those revenues,” said MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock. “Even if they were able to reschedule these performances six months from now, they would still need to pay once again for rehearsals, planning, and marketing. This money isn’t coming back, which means there is a great risk that those 8,000 jobs won’t be coming back anytime soon, either.”

In Massachusetts, every dollar spent by an arts and cultural organization generates $2.30 in sales for nearby businesses, and arts nonprofits support more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generate over $2.3 billion in total spending, and bring in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues.

“Despite its enormous strength, traditional economic recovery measures won’t work for a sector in which many people are self-employed and the business model relies on self-insuring for unemployment claims and making revenue through annual fundraising galas and one-time annual productions that are years in the making,” Ruddock added.

Legislative remedies for the pandemic-related economic devastation to the arts, cultural, and creative sector would include:

  • Cost-sharing between the state and self-insured nonprofit employers where those employers are paying for individuals unemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as recommended by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.
  • Lobbying the federal government for a Major Disaster declaration in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in order to use the Stafford Act which allows for Disaster Unemployment Assistance for individuals who are contract workers and not eligible for unemployment insurance.
  • Making pandemic-related tax credits and deductions applicable not just to income taxes, but to the taxes nonprofits pay, such as unrelated business income taxes and payroll taxes, as recommended by the Mass Nonprofit Network.
  • Instructing business insurance policies to consider the state’s emergency declaration prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 as a covered business insurance claim.
  • Allow for the conversion of program-specific government contracts and private foundation grants to pay for general operating expenses.
  • Prioritizing Philanthropic Relief funds designated for the creative community for independent artists and contractors without access to unemployment.
  • Requesting that mayors, town managers and select boards direct their local cultural councils to honor payment for LCC-funded performances cancelled due to the COVID-19 statewide emergency.

Read MASSCreative's COVID-19 State Policy Recommendations

Read MASSCreative's COVID-19 Federal Policy Recommendations

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MASSCreative statement on Anita Walker retirement

March 5, 2020—Today, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2020. Emily Ruddock, executive director of MASSCreative offered the following comment in response:

“Anita’s greatest achievement was finding new and innovative ways to invest the state’s funding of the arts, humanities and sciences in ways that benefitted entire communities. Under her tenure, the Mass Cultural Council launched the Cultural District program, the Cultural Facilities Fund, and the Cultural Investment Portfolio, each of which require collaboration among public and private partners that dramatically expand the scope and impact of every dollar the state spends on art, culture, and creativity.

“Over a decade ago, Anita had the foresight to advocate for the inclusion of mitigation funding in the state’s gaming law to offer capital funding to non-profit and municipal performing arts centers operating in the unbalanced marketplace created by casinos. 

“She fostered cross-sector collaboration not just in communities, where local business and civic leaders partnered with arts leaders, but also in state government. The state’s Card to Culture program permits families with EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare Cards to use them to gain free or dramatically reduced price entry to museums, plays, dance, and musical performances. This first-in-the-nation program is a result of collaboration between the state’s Department of Transitional Assistance and the Massachusetts Health Connector with arts and cultural nonprofits. Other Mass Cultural Council initiatives launched under Anita’s leadership rely on close partnerships with Community Health Centers, Workforce Development, and others. 

“Under Anita’s leadership, Massachusetts is enacting some of the most cutting-edge initiatives in the country that make art, culture, and creativity available to people who don’t have the resources or abilities to access it otherwise. She has made a tremendous difference in Massachusetts and created a legacy upon which even greater things can be built.” 

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Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Boston Foundation announcement that President and CEO Paul Grogan will step down

BOSTON, January 28, 2020—Today, the Boston Foundation announced that President and CEO Paul Grogan will step down. MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response: 

“Under Paul Grogan’s tenure, the Boston Foundation has been an ardent and generous supporter of art, culture, and creativity. The Boston Foundation has also elevated the civic contributions that artists and nonprofit cultural organizations make to our communities by hosting public discussions and convenings and applying its expertise to policy reports detailing the economic and educational impact of art, culture, and creativity. We are grateful for Grogan’s leadership over the past two decades.”

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Statement by MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Gov. Baker’s Recommended Funding of the Mass Cultural Council in State Budget

BOSTON, January 22, 2020—Today, Gov. Charlie Baker released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021. In it, he recommends allocating $16.3 million for the Mass Cultural Council, which is nearly 10 percent less than the Agency’s current budget. MASSCreative Executive Director Emily Ruddock issued the following statement in response: 

“We are deeply disappointed with the governor’s recommendation to cut funding for art, culture, and creativity in the Commonwealth. Nonprofit creative organizations in the state are built on robust public-private partnerships that drive the state’s local economies from Boston to the Berkshires and every rural and coastal region in between. They generate over $2.3 billion dollars in economic activity annually, including $97 million in local and state tax revenue. They also support 73,000 full-time equivalent jobs. 

“Just as important, the state’s investment in the Mass Cultural Council, which funds arts, humanities, and science programs throughout the state, ensures that every Massachusetts resident has access to art, regardless of where they live, their age, income, or physical ability. These opportunities to engage and connect with other people through creative activities are just as integral to social wellbeing as adequate food, housing, income, and the pursuit of meaningful work. 

“Over the next few months as the FY2021 budget process proceeds, MASSCreative looks forward to working with members of the Legislature alongside the Mass Cultural Council, Mass Humanities, Mass Artists Leaders Coalition and thousands of individuals across Massachusetts to share the ways in which art, creativity, and culture impacts our communities.”

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MASSCreative names Emily Ruddock new executive director

Organization also welcomes Boston arts chief Kara Elliott-Ortega and longtime arts advocate Barbara Wallace Grossman to board of directors

BOSTON, September 25, 2019—MASSCreative announces today that Emily Ruddock has been named executive director of the arts advocacy organization. Ruddock, who was appointed interim executive director last April following the departure of founding executive director Matt Wilson, assumed the permanent role after a unanimous vote of the MASSCreative Board of Directors.

“I am honored to lead MASSCreative, which in its first seven years has become an indispensable advocate for the state’s art, cultural, and creative communities,” Ruddock said. “As we look ahead to the next seven years and beyond, our work must expand to advance policies that support a strong, well-resourced creative sector so that everyone in Massachusetts, regardless of where they live, can access the benefits provided by artistic and cultural experiences and participation. The creative sector is one of the most potent contributors to the state’s economic and civic vitality, but none of this happens by accident. It takes strategic planning and advocacy.”

Ruddock brings 15 years of experience in strategic and management positions for non-profit arts organizations, including working as the first director of the City of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District. Before joining MASSCreative in 2017, Ruddock was the artistic producer at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT), where she managed the day-to-day operations of the Artistic Department, including hiring, resource logistics, and budgeting for theatrical productions. She also developed and supervised MRT’s first education department-focused effort, strengthening partnerships with local social service organizations and schools.

As director of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District, Ruddock was highly regarded by city officials and local arts leaders for her leadership in coordinating arts and cultural organizations for neighborhood revitalization and economic development. Ruddock worked with elected city and state officials on a range of projects to promote downtown Lynn and the arts community, including drafting legislation establishing the city’s first Public Art Commission. She also organized and executed free public events featuring local arts and community groups.

“Fulfilling our mission to create a Commonwealth in which arts, culture, and creativity are an expected, well-funded and valued part of everyday life will require leadership that is bold, strategic, and collaborative,” said MASSCreative Board Chair Stephen Immerman, who is President Emeritus of Montserrat College of Art. “That is what we have in Emily, who also brings passion not just for art, but for equitable access to art. We are incredibly excited to advance our work with artists, cultural councils, arts organizations and the broader creative community and to have Emily leading these efforts.” 

MASSCreative has also named two new members to its Board of Directors: 

  • Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston.
  • Barbara Wallace Grossman, interim department chair and professor of theatre at Tufts University’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Grossman has also served as a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

MASSCreative also selected new board leadership earlier this month. Immerman was elected board chair, replacing former chair Sara Stackhouse, founder of Stackhouse Creative and The Mama Project, who remains on the board as a member of the executive committee. Susan Chinsen, associate producer at ArtsEmerson and director of the Boston Asian American Film Festival, was elected Vice Chair of the board, and Justin Kang, vice president of economic growth for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, was elected Clerk of the board. 

Last, three board members, Catherine Peterson, executive director of ArtsBoston, Jason Weeks, executive director of Cambridge Arts Council, and Vanessa Snow, a community organizer for SEIU Local 509, stepped off of the board. Both Peterson and Weeks had served as founding board members.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Kara and Barbara to our board. Each has an impressive depth of knowledge not just of the arts but also its impact on communities and we welcome their leadership and expertise,” Immerman said. “We are deeply grateful to all of the work on MASSCreative’s behalf by Catherine, Jason, and Vanessa. The organization simply would not be as strong as it is today without their generous gifts of time and talent.” 

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Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Massachusetts Legislature’s FY2020 Budget

BOSTON, July 23, 2019—Statement by MASSCreative Interim Executive Director Emily Ruddock on Massachusetts Legislature’s FY2020 Budget:

“We are grateful to Massachusetts lawmakers for approving funding for the Mass Cultural Council at $18.1 million. Arts and cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts support more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generate over $2.2 billion in total spending, and bring in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues. Public investment in these cultural organizations is a proven and reliable generator of economic activity, most noticeably in higher need areas of the state, such as our Gateway Cities and rural communities. 

We’re also grateful to lawmakers for approving new language in the Mass Cultural Council line item ensuring that the agency will be able to continue to provide both grants and services to the creative community. Equitable public funding of art organizations and artists throughout Massachusetts creates greater opportunities for all residents to experience creativity and to see their culture reflected in artistic expression. The Mass Cultural Council supports 46 cultural districts across the state that are building bridges across neighborhood, ethnic, and class divides in ways that other efforts at civic engagement cannot.

“We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have public leaders who understand that the benefits to our communities brought by art and creativity do not occur incidentally. They are the result of strategic investments in Local Cultural Councils, working artists, cultural institutions, community groups, and youth programs. We look forward Gov. Charlie Baker’s signing of the budget and to continuing our work making Massachusetts arts and creativity are an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life.”

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