Cultural Facilities Fund Update


We may not have won our recent fight to increase the state’s funding of the Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), but we’re winning the war to ensure that elected officials, policymakers, and voters understand the importance of providing funding to maintain the Commonwealth’s storied theaters, concert halls, dance studios, museums, and historical sites.  

Mayors, municipalities, arts leaders, and business leaders from across the state spoke out in favor of increasing CFF funding from $10 million annually over the next five years, to $15 million. In a letter urging legislative leaders to pass an economic bond bill with increased CFF funding, they emphasized the role that these cultural facilities play in their cities and towns: “Our cultural venues are often the anchor of a neighborhood, making our cities and towns exceptional places to live, work, play, and visit,” they wrote, adding that such investments create jobs and grow local economies.

Since 2007, CFF has awarded $110 million to 853 projects around the state that have benefited organizations of all sizes. As a requirement of their CFF funding, each organization has had to raise private funds to also contribute to their capital maintenance projects. Examples include waterproofing, lighting, plumbing and flooring upgrades to the Boston Children’s Museum exhibition hall; upgrades to the lighting, energy and security systems at the Worcester Center for Performing Arts; renovations, upgrades and repairs to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium; and the restoration of the Museum of African American History’s Boston-Higginbotham House on Nantucket. All told, the organizations receiving CFF funding employ more than 7,000 full-time workers and another 25,500 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers, generating more than $1.7 billion in economic activity.

Ultimately lawmakers chose to reauthorize the CFF at $10 million a year. It’s not nearly enough to meet demand. A 2017 survey of 164 arts and cultural organizations by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which administers the grants in partnership with MassDevelopment, cataloged $114 million in capital funding needs just through next year.

Still, we have already made tremendous progress. Until MASSCreative began its advocacy efforts in 2013, CFF funding was stuck at $5 million annually. Just as we have methodically worked to increase state and local investment in culture and creativity more broadly, we’re confident that we can continue to grow the state’s investment in its cultural infrastructure. In doing this, as always, we’ll be looking to you to contact your lawmakers and share your stories to build a Commonwealth where arts and creativity are an expected, recognized, and valued part of everyday life.

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