Mass Cultural Council http://massculturalcouncil.org Culture elevates. Wed, 22 Dec 2021 19:43:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 http://massculturalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/cropped-MCC0icon-32x32.png Mass Cultural Council http://massculturalcouncil.org 32 32 BIPOC Outreach Coordinators Working to Connect with Cultural Community http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/bipoc-outreach-coordinators-working-to-connect-with-cultural-community/ Thu, 16 Dec 2021 17:56:24 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=475938 These engagement enthusiasts are helping us forge new relationships with BIPOC constituents.

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Mass Cultural Council’s recently launched Racial Equity Plan aims to expand the Agency’s mandated support to under-invested communities. But as programs and resources grow, they need to be regularly evaluated to promote relevancy and sustainability. Programs should only be deemed “good” or “vital” by the people they are made to serve, so this evaluation process needs to involve and prioritize the needs and experiences of the community.

Expanding support to under-invested communities takes work, because often these communities are largely outside of the Agency’s sphere of communication. To combat this barrier, a request for proposal was circulated to identify active community engagement enthusiasts who self-identify as BIPOC, interested in creating new relationships between the community and Mass Cultural Council. Four BIPOC Outreach Coordinators were selected and are contracted through the winter to achieve two main objectives:

  1. Spread awareness about the Agency’s current programs and services
  2. Gather feedback about unmet needs of the community

Below is some information about each coordinator, and their goals for this engagement project. If you would like to speak with any of them, their emails are listed, and as always feel free to reach out to Mass Cultural Council staff with any questions or comments you may have.

Meet the BIPOC Outreach Coordinators

Erin Genia

Erin Genia
(she, her, hers)

Member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate

Descendant of the Little River and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Multimedia artist
Sound, performance, sculpture, ceramics, fibers, printmaking, and painting, as well as the traditional Dakota material of canupa inyan/pipestone

Educator
City of Boston’s “Confronting Colonial Myths in Boston’s Public Space”

Engagement Goals:

  • Focus on how Mass Cultural Council can support cultural revitalization in Indigenous communities.
  • Develop relationships between the Agency and the MA Office of Indian Affairs and other tribal and heritage leaders, and provide the framework for further engagement between parties.
  • Help inform the Mass Cultural Council’s use of language to adequately reflect the identities, needs, and goals of local Native American peoples.

Email Erin Genia

 

Ana Masacote

Ana Masacote
(she, her, ella)

Founder – DANCE TO POWER LLC
Online Afro-Latin Dance Academy

Co-Founder & Former Director – MASACOTE ENTERTAINMENT, INC
Afro-Latin Dance & Music Company

Engagement Goals:

  • Conduct outreach and listening sessions with Latine artists and organizations throughout the state to identify specific needs of each region.
  • Develop a blueprint for Mass Cultural Council program staff to build, nurture, and maintain relationships with established points of connection within the Latine community to lay the foundation for more comprehensive efforts.
  • Design a resource guide mapping key information and support available to artists sourced from connections and conversations.

Email Ana Masacote

 

Erika Slocumb

Erika Slocumb
(she, her, hers)

PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Black Studies and Public History

Founder – Studio E Designs
Visual Art Shop

Engagement Goals:

  • Expand cultural connections to Central and Eastern MA.
  • Collaborate with other Outreach Coordinators on events to increase reach and accessibility.
  • Center feedback efforts on applicants who have had a connection to Mass Cultural Council in the past to identify gaps in the Agency’s support.

Email Erika Slocumb

 

Tran Vu. Photo: Virginia Sutherland

Tran Vu
(she, her, hers)

Multimedia Artist
Sculpture, photography, painting, and illustration

Adjunct Faculty, UMass Boston
Asian Women in the US

Engagement Goals:

  • Flyer various AAPI communities and meeting spaces with Mass Cultural Council materials to promote awareness.
  • Support the Agency’s AAPI Program Coordinator in engaging with organizations and other entities that may be eligible for an upcoming program established through a legislative earmark sponsored by the Members of the House Asian Caucus.
  • Suggest updates to application review processes to acknowledge the current realities of BIPOC artists and organizations/groups.

Email Tran Vu

 

Learn More About Our Racial Equity Work

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Artist Fellowships Available in Drawing & Printmaking, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction, Painting http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/artist-fellowships-available-in-drawing-printmaking-fiction-creative-nonfiction-painting/ Wed, 15 Dec 2021 20:13:01 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=475923 Apply by January 24, 2022.

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Saira Wasim (Drawing & Printmaking Fellow ’20), REST IS HISTORY (2017), paper cut collage, ink and gouache on wasli paper, 28.5x26x2 in.

Mass Cultural Council believes artists are at the heart of our rich cultural life. To support artists and their creative work, we are now accepting 2022 Artist Fellowships applications in the categories of Drawing & Printmaking, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction, and Painting. Deadline: January 24, 2022.

The Artist Fellowships are unrestricted, anonymously-judged, competitive grants of $15,000 and finalist awards of $5,000, in recognition of exceptional creative work.

Please note that this year, we have a new grants management system. Learn how to register in our system.

Read our tips on applying for an Artist Fellowship. See samples of work by past awardees in our Gallery.

Michele Lauriat (Painting Fellow ’20), UNTITLED from the series FELLS WOODS (2019), gouache, acrylic, colored pencil and graphite page, 75×55 in.

We know artists work in ways that are not always easily categorized. If you have any questions where your work might best fit in the program, don’t hesitate to ask us.

There are two deadlines per fiscal year, divided by discipline, and this is the second deadline. Applications in Choreography, Poetry, and Traditional Arts were accepted earlier in 2021, with an October 25, 2021 deadline. We expect to announce grant decisions in those categories by February 2022.

Grant decisions for Drawing & Printmaking, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction, and Painting should be announced by June 2022.

Mary Lum (Drawing & Printmaking Fellow ’20), BLUE SQUARE (2019), construction paper and light, 12×9 in.

Read Program Guidelines, Eligibility Requirements, and Application Instructions

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Festivals: Celebrating Culture and Community http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/festivals-celebrating-culture-and-community/ Wed, 15 Dec 2021 16:10:52 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=475694 99 Fall/Winter Festivals Awarded Grants Totaling $148,500

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Back of a dancer on stage, looking out to an outdoor audience of children dancing in the grass
Dragonfly Festival of Ashland (2019)

Festivals bring joyfulness to our lives and strengthen our sense of community. They are a perfect way to celebrate heritage, culture, and traditions, to entertain through music and film, and to provide educational opportunities for attendees. Mass Cultural Council is proud to announce grants to 99 Fall/Winter Festivals, totaling $148,500.

Our Festivals Program supports Mass Cultural Council’s goal of enriching communities.

For FY22, while still in the shadow of COVID-19, festival programmers made the decision to move forward and hold in-person, hybrid, and/or online festivals understanding the importance now more than ever of celebrating the arts and their communities. For the Fall/Winter grant cycle, the Agency increased the grant amount from $500 to $1,500 per festival. Of the 126 applications received, 44% are new applicants to the program. Of the 99 grantees, 39% are first-time Festival grantees.

The next round of festival grants, the Spring/Summer grant cycle, will open on January 10, 2022 for festivals taking place between March 1 and August 31, 2022.

Get Festivals Program updates by subscribing to our Community Initiative News.

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$1.2M in STARS Residencies Grants to Support Creative Learning http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/1-2m-in-stars-residencies-grants-to-support-creative-learning/ Tue, 14 Dec 2021 20:57:16 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=475705 This year we were able to fund all eligible STARS Residencies thanks to a record-level of investment by the state Legislature in our FY22 budget.

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Residency with Cambodian ceramicist Yary Livan at the Joseph G. Pyne Arts Magnet School in Lowell.

 

Although schools still face pandemic-related challenges, teaching artists, scientists, and scholars continue to work to bring creative learning to Massachusetts students during their school day. To support this important work, Mass Cultural Council is awarding $1,158,550 in STARS Residencies grants to 244 schools across the Commonwealth for the 2021-2022 school year.

STARS Residencies support Mass Cultural Council’s goal of empowering a creative generation.

These STARS Residencies will bring the arts, sciences, and/or humanities to more than 24,300 students in communities across the state. The residencies also provide paid work for more than 129 teaching artists, scientists, and/or scholars, many of whom still experience economic hardships as a result of the pandemic.

The range of residencies that schools and cultural partners will be providing for students are as multi-faceted as any other school year. Some examples include:

Lowell: Joseph G. Pyne School, “Functional Pottery of Cambodia” residency with Cambodian ceramicist Yary Livan 
Students grades 3-8 will learn about Cambodian culture and ceramics through the personal story and art of master Cambodian ceramicist Yary Livan and his connection to the Cambodian and Southeast Asian Community of Lowell. Students will learn how to create functional wares native to ancient and contemporary Cambodia and then create their own ceramic pieces inspired by Cambodian designs. In a final exhibition, they will share their work with the community and families in a final exhibition.

Shrewsbury: Al-Hamra Academy, “Imagination Station” residency with teaching artist Faye Dupras
Using storytelling, puppetry, music, and art-making, this residency will deepen understanding and application of the social emotional skills needed to recognize and celebrate diversity for 70 K-Grade 1 students with teaching artist Faye Dupras. A main goal is to infuse students with a healthy dose of joy and wonder as they practice kindness, empathy, equity, and fairness. Throughout the residency, students develop and deepen their capacity to be good friends, kind classmates, and active agents of change in their communities.

Truro: Truro Central School, “Global Migrators” residency with Mass Audubon educators Spring Beckhorn and David Shapiro
This school residency brings two Truro Central School grades together with Mass Audubon to study adaptations, migration, nesting, and conservation efforts for endangered and threatened species that depend on Cape Cod waters and habitats, with a focus on shorebirds and sea turtles. A goal of the program is for students to gain an appreciation and understanding of their role in protecting Cape Cod’s wildlife through hands-on and inquiry-based lessons and field investigations to view animals in the wild. Students create illustrated fiction stories, informational posters, and educational signs to share their learning.

Chicopee: Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, “Truth Be Told: Arts, Community Building, Social Justice” residency with teaching artist Julie Lichtenberg of The Performance Project
9-12th grade English Language Learner classes will create a multilingual performance, exploring personal experiences and social justice themes. A goal is for students to understand the value and importance of their own voice. Students will also be exposed to the concept of cultural activism: how theater and the arts can be used to engage audiences in thinking and talking about issues that affect all our lives and encourage people to connect their personal experiences with broader global issues.

Boston: East Boston High School, “Art Room Poets” residency with Kadahj Bennett of ZUMIX
400 freshmen will embark on a creative learning experience that is not confined by the rules of conventional grammar and syntax to increase their skills in communication, creativity, literacy, and social connection. Guest teaching artists will visit classes to show students how poetry and literature can lead to successful career paths. All students will have the opportunity to share their work with their classmates at the end of the residency both in-class and through the 94.9 ZUMIX Radio station, where all student’s work is played for the public. Each poem will be compiled into a poetry journal at the end of the class.

Mass Cultural Council is pleased to be able to fund all eligible STARS Residencies this year, made possible by the Massachusetts Legislature through its record-level of investment in the cultural sector in the FY22 state budget. We thank our partners on Beacon Hill, as well as participating schools and teaching artists, who make STARS Residencies possible.

See the Complete STARS Residencies Funding List

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Social Prescription Pilot Explores Positive Health Impacts of Cultural Experiences for People & Communities http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/social-prescription-pilot-explores-positive-health-impacts-of-cultural-experiences-for-people-communities/ Wed, 08 Dec 2021 19:54:01 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=475652 Through this pilot, the Agency is working with experts in the field and a cohort of organizations.

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people sitting socially-distanced in chairs doing dance movements with their upper bodies.
Urbanity Dance, part of the Social Prescription Pilot Cohort, reported one of their students who had been struggling with recovery from COVID-19, streamed a dance class from their hospital bed for weeks. That student said dance was the medicine that was non-negotiable. Bearing witness to that person’s incremental physical recovery and being a part of their social prescription was one of the greatest honors of the last year, said Urbanity Dance.

“The arts are a mechanism that can drive social change faster than many other approaches that we can take in public health.” – Dr. Jill Sonke, The Nation’s Health

Since January of 2020, Mass Cultural Council has worked with cultural organizations on a Social Prescription Pilot Program designed to positively affect the health and well-being of the people of Massachusetts and the fiscal health of our non-profit cultural institutions. Social prescribing is where health care providers refer patients to arts and culture experiences to support their health and well-being.

Our intention with this pilot has been to further develop cross-sector partnerships, demonstrate the protective and therapeutic effect of cultural and arts participation, and to create a model where the services provided by cultural organizations are funded. After two pilot cycles taking place, and enduring, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year (FY22) is the first full year Mass Cultural Council is able to support a social prescription pilot, providing access to cultural experiences to individuals working with professional caregivers as a means of treatment. (Read more about our finding from this work in FY20 and in FY21.)

Organizations that were part of the Social Prescription Pilot Program in FY21 have been re-certified to receive continued funding and trainings in FY22 to support the development of a practice that places cultural organizations as key pieces of the public health infrastructure in Massachusetts. These organizations include:

 

five overlapping ovals - the smallest "individual", then "interpersonal", then "community/organizations/institutions", then "policies", then "culture" being the largest oval
A chart showing a Social Ecological Model of Health adapted Dr. Tasha Golden.

This year Dr. Tasha Golden, Director of Research at the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins Medicine, has agreed to join Mass Cultural Council to develop and deploy evaluation strategies and tools to measure the impact of social prescribing activities as we prepare to scale the program.

Dr. Golden’s research focuses on impacts of arts and culture, music, aesthetics, and sociocultural norms on well-being, research, and professional practice in both health and arts sectors. She is also leading the newly-formed Social Prescription Task Force to help connect this work to other social prescription efforts, assist in evaluation research, and enhance access to needed resources. Through multifaceted documentation of direct feedback and data, the task force, Dr. Golden and the Social Prescription Pilot cohort will create responsive strategies with equity and innovation at the core of the work.

We are also collaborating with Dr. Jill Sonke, Director of the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida (UF), the Senior Advisor to the CDC Vaccine Confidence and Demand Team on the COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Task Force, and Director of the EpiArts Lab. In 2020, Dr. Sonke and Dr. Golden co-created and published the white paper for Creating Healthy Communities and co-authored: the Evidence-Based Framework for Arts in Public Health, a detailed report and framework that helped Mass Cultural Council and the Social Prescription cohort navigate through the first two phases.

With these experts in the field and with our dedicated cohort organizations, we have a strong foothold to better understand and demonstrate the protective and therapeutic effect of cultural and arts participation while creating a model where the services and health impacts provided by cultural organizations can be scaled and become sustainably funded.

In FY22 Mass Cultural Council looks forward to learning more about the health benefits offered by our cultural organizations and reported by their health care partners across the state as we assess the impact and challenges, compile best practices, and make recommendations for FY23.

Read More About Social Prescription Research

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ARPA Spending Bill Includes $60.1M for New Cultural Sector Relief Grants http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/arpa-spending-bill-includes-60-1m-for-new-cultural-sector-relief-grants/ Mon, 06 Dec 2021 17:23:57 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=474997 Governor Baker has until December 13 to review and act on the bill.

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Update: December 13, 2021 – Governor Baker has signed this legislation into law. Mass Cultural Council will soon start internal and external conversations on how to best design and administer pandemic recovery grant programs to assist artists and cultural organizations, as outlined below.

 

Last week the legislative conference committee tasked with ironing-out any differences between the final House and Senate ARPA spending plan bills released its report: H. 4269, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs. The bill was quickly adopted by the House and Senate and is now on Governor Baker’s desk. The Governor has until December 13 to review and act on the bill.

This legislation, a much-anticipated $4 billion spending plan, invests surplus state revenues and federal ARPA funds into economic sectors impacted by the pandemic to spur recovery statewide.

Of note is line-item 1599-2043, a reserve for cultural and tourism assets, from which funds are available for Mass Cultural Council to administer new grant programs supporting cultural organizations and artists to help recover from the pandemic and operate more efficiently.

While the total appropriation for this account is $135M, more than half (55.4%) of the funds are earmarked, a practice legislators use to direct funds to priority local projects, organizations, or initiatives within their districts. After the 119 earmarks are paid, Mass Cultural Council will have $60.1M available for recovery grantmaking:

Total Appropriation Line-Item 1599-2043 $134,978,000
Total Earmarked Spending (55.4%) $74,831,000
MTBA Norfolk County Stations Earmark $50,000,000
Cultural Sector Earmarks $13,596,000
Economic Development Earmarks $5,255,000
Social Services Earmarks $1,825,000
Infrastructure Projects Earmarks $1,705,000
Other / Misc. Earmarks $1,172,000
Workforce Development Earmarks $900,000
Municipal Earmarks $378,000
Total Available for New Grants (44.6%) $60,147,000

While the total amount available for grantmaking, $60.1M, is less than envisioned by both the House ARPA bill ($125M) and the Senate ARPA bill ($75M), it is still a substantial investment in the cultural sector’s pandemic recovery – and triple the Agency’s annual state budget appropriation. Mass Cultural Council thanks our partners on Beacon Hill for ensuring artists and cultural organizations will benefit from this spending plan.

Mass Cultural Council encourages Governor Baker to approve this legislation, so that the Agency can develop new grant opportunities to equitably provide COVID relief to both artists and cultural organizations. We anticipate convening a public session to hear directly from you, our stakeholders, in the new year on how these funds should be employed.

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Michael J. Bobbitt Elected to NASAA Board of Directors http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/michael-j-bobbitt-elected-to-nasaa-board-of-directors/ Mon, 29 Nov 2021 17:30:15 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=474954 The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Welcomes New Board Chair and Directors

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is pleased to announce the election of a new chair and three new members to its board of directors. As part of a rigorous national nomination process, state arts agencies elected these exemplary leaders at NASAA’s 2021 virtual Business Bash Celebration. The new chair, Omari Rush of Michigan, will serve a two-year term. The three new members (below) each will serve a three-year term.

Alice BioffAlice Bioff

Council Member, Alaska State Council on the Arts

Alice Bioff is from Koyuk, Alaska, and has worked since 2010 in the Community Planning and Development Department of Kawerak, an Alaska Native regional tribal consortium. As the business planning specialist, she is a resource partner connecting small businesses with programs that offer technical assistance in small-business development to the residents of the 16 communities of the Bering Strait region. Bioff has worked for native nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years since attaining her B.A. in rural development from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In addition to her experience, Bioff is the founder and owner of Naataq Gear and brings with her the experience of owning her own business as an apparel design manufacturer. With her Inupiaq values close at heart, Bioff is a strong supporter of small-business development that supports the diverse economic landscape in the state of Alaska.

Michael J. BobbittMichael J. Bobbitt

Executive Director, Massachusetts Cultural Council

Michael J. Bobbitt, theater director, choreographer, and playwright, joined the Mass Cultural Council in 2021, becoming the highest-ranking cultural official in Massachusetts. Previously he served as the artistic director of the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, Massachusetts, and of Adventure Theatre-MTC in Maryland. While in Maryland Bobbitt led the organization to be a respected theater/training company in the D.C. region, as well as a nationally influential professional Theatre for Young Audiences. Bobbitt trained in nonprofit arts management at Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management, The National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program, and Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certification Program. He has served as an associate professor of theater at both the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Howard University, and has volunteered on numerous nonprofit boards, including Non-Profit Village, Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Leadership Montgomery, Weissberg Foundation, Watertown Public Art Commission, and ArtsBoston. In 2021 he was selected to join artEquity’s second cohort of the BIPOC Leadership Circle.

Sue GensSue Gens

Executive Director, Minnesota State Arts Board

Sue Gens joined the Minnesota State Arts Board in 2001, serving as director of communication and government relations, and interim executive director, before becoming executive director in 2008. Before joining the Arts Board, Gens was director of external relations for the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities); and director of development for United Arts, a federated fundraising organization for small and mid-sized arts organizations in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area. Gens has worked in the Twin Cities nonprofit and public sectors for 30 years; has held management, public relations, marketing, or development positions at the Children’s Theatre Company, Minnesota Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, COMPAS and the Women’s Theatre Project; and has served as a volunteer, consultant, or board member with a variety of nonprofit organizations. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, with degrees in music and arts administration.

In addition to the new directors, members elected these directors to a second three-year term:

  • Eduardo Arosemena-Muñoz, Chair, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture
  • Carla Du Pree, former Council Member, Maryland State Arts Council
  • Michael Faison, Executive Director, Idaho Commission on the Arts

“We enthusiastically welcome Alice, Michael, and Sue to the NASAA board,” said NASAA President and CEO Pam Breaux. “These experienced and diverse leaders bring a breadth of knowledge and perspectives, fierce commitments to serving the public, and genuine passion for the arts. We are eager to work with this new team and we welcome their expertise and guidance.”

Per NASAA’s bylaws, the board elected these officers to serve on the Executive Committee:

  • 1st Vice Chair: Carla Du Pree, former Council Member, Maryland State Arts Council
  • 2nd Vice Chair: Julie Vigeland, former chair, Oregon Arts Commission
  • Treasurer: Amber Sharples, Executive Director, Oklahoma Arts Council
  • Secretary: Donna Collins, Executive Director, Ohio Arts Council

“The 2021 NASAA board represents dynamic and dedicated leadership from our field,” said NASAA Chair Omari Rush. “I am excited to work with these outstanding leaders as we advance NASAA’s mission to strengthen state arts agencies and continue to advocate for the value of arts and creativity across all communities.”

For more information on NASAA’s 2022 board, visit NASAA Board of Directors.

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Testimony Submitted Seeking $125M in ARPA Relief for the Cultural Sector http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/testimony-submitted-seeking-125m-in-arpa-relief-for-the-cultural-sector/ Mon, 15 Nov 2021 14:42:40 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=474895 Chambers have until November 17 to agree on a final spending plan and get it to the Governor’s desk.

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Update: November 22, 2021 – The House of Representatives and Senate recessed formal sessions on November 17, 2021 without reaching a consensus on a final ARPA spending plan.  The Conference Committee is still working to finalize this important legislation, and Mass Cultural Council is monitoring this developing situation and continues to advocate that the conferees retain both the final House bill language and appropriation for the cultural sector. 

 

Both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate have passed a $3.82B ARPA relief bill, and the Chambers have until November 17 to agree on a final spending plan and get it to the Governor’s desk.

Mass Cultural Council is incredibly grateful that both the House and Senate prioritized cultural sector relief in their bills, appropriating $125M and $75M respectfully for the Agency to equitably invest through capacity building and relief grants to artists and cultural organizations. Mass Cultural Council has submitted the following testimony to House and Senate Leadership, urging that the final ARPA spending plan retain the House language and larger $125M appropriation:

November 12, 2021

The Honorable Karen Spilka, President of the Massachusetts Senate
The Honorable Michael Rodrigues, Senate Ways & Means Chair
The Honorable Ed Kennedy, Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Chair

The Honorable Ronald Mariano, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
The Honorable Aaron Michlewitz, House Ways & Means Chair
The Honorable Carole Fiola, Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Chair

Delivered Via Email

Re:  H. 4219/S. 2564 – An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs

Dear Madame President, Chairs Rodrigues and Kennedy, Mr. Speaker, and Chairs Michlewitz and Fiola:

On behalf of the governing Council and staff of Mass Cultural Council, I wish to thank both the House of Representatives and Senate for prioritizing pandemic relief for the cultural sector in H. 4219/S. 2564, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs.

Mass Cultural Council is ever-grateful that our partners on Beacon Hill recognize that the Commonwealth’s economy cannot fully recover from the pandemic if the cultural sector – artists, creative workers, and cultural organizations (nonprofit, for-profit, and municipal) – is not nurtured and aided to thrive once again. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Massachusetts’ cultural sector contributed $25.5 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy, representing 4.3% of the state GDP, 142,578 jobs, and total compensation of $13.6 billion. At that time the financial impact and contributions of our sector in Massachusetts were greater than construction, education services, and agriculture.

Closures and cancellations necessitated by COVID-19 financially devastated cultural organizations and artists. In March 2021 Mass Cultural Council released impact data collected from the sector reporting more than $600 million in lost revenue and personal income, and more than 30,000 sector jobs impacted statewide. Additionally, in June 2021 the Massachusetts COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission called for a total of $575 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies to be invested into the sector to mitigate pandemic impacts.

It is said that convening – bringing audiences together to learn, discuss, celebrate, and enjoy productions and presentations – is the cultural sector’s superpower. Our organizations were among the first to close in March 2020, and even now, twenty months later, we see that cultural organizations are likely be the last to fully reopen and reengage with the public at pre-COVID rates. This investment is necessary for Massachusetts to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic. It should also be noted that without our convenings, related sectors that depend upon our audiences to thrive, such as travel and tourism, hospitality, retail, restaurants, etc., will continue to flounder.

While both Chambers invest in the cultural sector, tasking Mass Cultural Council with equitably administering millions of dollars in grant assistance for artists, creative workers, and cultural organizations, providing capacity building initiatives and pandemic relief, the Agency urges you to retain both the text and the House appropriation from H. 4219 in the final bill:

1599-2026 For a reserve for cultural assets; provided, that funds shall be administered by the Massachusetts cultural council to develop and oversee a grant program in order to assist cultural organizations and artists operate more efficiently; provided further, that grants may support staffing, consultants, plans, software and hardware for organizational business development for facilities owned by municipalities or non-profit entities with negative economic impacts of the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic; provided further, that funds may be expended for entities that focus on 1 or more minority population or conduct cultural events that have cultural education or cultural performances related to minority populations; provided further, that the administration of said grants shall prioritize entities that have been adversely affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic; provided further, that funds may be transferred to the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund established in section 42 of chapter 23G of the General Laws for the purposes of this item; and provided further, that grants may include a requirement for matching funds……………………………….$125,000,000

Mass Cultural Council believes the House of Representatives’ line-item language in account 1599-2026 provides greater flexibility to develop new, urgently needed relief programs that equitably serve all cultural sector stakeholders, and further supports the larger House appropriation of $125 million, a sizable and record-breaking investment which, when invested into artists and cultural organizations, will position the cultural sector well to recover and reengage with the public safely.

Thank you for prioritizing the economic health of the cultural sector in your COVID-19 recovery spending plans. Mass Cultural Council stands ready to take on this urgent work. Again, I respectfully request that you retain the House language and appropriation for the cultural sector in the final ARPA bill. Thank you for your consideration and please do not hesitate to contact me, or Public Affairs Director Bethann Steiner if you require additional information.

Sincerely,
Michael J. Bobbitt
Executive Director

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Senate ARPA Bill Invests $75M into Cultural Asset Recovery http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/senate-arpa-bill-invests-75m-into-cultural-asset-recovery/ Thu, 04 Nov 2021 16:08:51 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=474868 Email your State Senator today - urge them to co-sponsor Amendment #49 to include artists and increase the level of investment.

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Update 11/12/21: The Massachusetts Senate completed its debate on S. 2564 on November 10, 2021, passing a $3.82 billion spending plan to invest federal ARPA and FY21 surplus state revenues into key economic sectors. Mass Cultural Council receives $75 million in the final Senate bill, to administer new grant programs that deliver capacity building and pandemic relief to the cultural sector. We are grateful that during the debate the Senate adopted a corrective amendment that clarifies that these funds would be available to artists and cultural organizations.

The formal session ends on November 17, 2021. The House and Senate must now either appoint a formal conference committee or negotiate informally to develop a final ARPA relief bill for the Chambers to adopt and send to the Governor. Mass Cultural Council will develop written testimony for the House and Senate urging them to retain the final House language and appropriation of $125M for the cultural sector in the final ARPA bill.

Cultural sector stakeholders can email the Speaker of the House, Senate President, Chairs of House and Senate Ways & Means, and their personal state Senator and state Representative urging them to retain the House’s recommendation for the cultural sector in the final ARPA bill.

 

The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways & Means has released S. 2564, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs, a $3.67 billion spending plan investing federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and FY21 state revenue surplus funds into key economic sectors. The Committee’s plan provides $75 million to be granted by Mass Cultural Council to provide pandemic relief to the Commonwealth’s cultural and tourism assets.

While Mass Cultural Council is immensely grateful to the Senate for both recognizing the crucial role the cultural sector plays in the overall state economy and including cultural organizations in the Committee bill, we note with extreme caution that this level of investment falls $50M short of the final House ARPA bill, which provides $125 million for grants to the cultural sector to promote capacity building and pandemic relief. Further, as currently drafted, Mass Cultural Council would not be able to make grants to individual artists from this fund.

Fortunately, State Senator Ed Kennedy (D- Lowell), Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development, has filed Amendment #49 to both add individual artists to the list of eligible recipients for this assistance and increase the appropriation to $200 million.

Chair Kennedy is a stalwart champion of the cultural sector in the Senate, and this year is the lead sponsor of S. 2246, An Act rebuilding the Commonwealth’s cultural future.  This legislation, which enjoys the support of 60 co-sponsors (including 20 Senators – 50% of the Chamber) directs a minimum of $200 million in ARPA relief to the cultural sector. In filing Amendment #49, Senator Kennedy is using his legislation, which has garnered strong bi-partisan support, as a roadmap for the sector’s capacity building and pandemic relief that he hopes to secure in the final Senate ARPA bill.

Action Alert

Artists, cultural organizations, and cultural sector stakeholders have 125 million reasons to email their State Senator today to urge them to support and co-sponsor Senator Kennedy’s Amendment #49. Our advocacy partner, MASSCreative, has launched a “one-click” action alert that easily connects you with your state Senator.

What’s Next?

Senators are now filing and reviewing amendments to S. 2564, and the debate is expected to begin on November 10. Once the Senate concludes its debate, a Conference Committee will be formed to negotiate a final, compromise bill, by deciding how to handle any differences contained within the final House and Senate bills. That conference report must then be accepted by the House and Senate and then it goes to the Governor for his final approval. The Legislature is expected to work quickly, as formal sessions recess on November 17, 2021.

Consider the Data

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Mass Cultural Council surveyed artists and cultural organizations five times to understand the economic impacts of the pandemic on the cultural sector. We know COVID related closures and cancellations were devastating to artists and cultural organizations – between March 2020 and February 2021 they reported more than $600 million in lost revenue and personal income, and that more than 30,000 sector jobs were impacted statewide. Pre-COVID the cultural sector contributed $25.5 billion to the Commonwealth economy, representing 4.3% of the state’s GDP and 142,578 jobs. The Commonwealth cannot truly rebound from the pandemic without a fully-restored cultural sector.

Mass Cultural Council calls on the Senate to adopt Amendment #2 and bolster the cultural sector’s pandemic relief by both including artists as eligible recipients, and funding the account at $200 million, as envisioned by An Act rebuilding the Commonwealth’s cultural future.

Contact Your State Senator

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Introducing Our Cultural Equity & Access Initiatives Team http://massculturalcouncil.org/blog/introducing-the-cultural-equity-access-initiatives-team/ Thu, 04 Nov 2021 13:25:51 +0000 http://massculturalcouncil.org/?p=474817 Working closely with our Executive Director, this new team will work - internally and externally - to advance the Agency's equity, access, and inclusion goals.

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With the launch of our first-ever Racial Equity Plan, Mass Cultural Council is very pleased to announce the creation of a new Cultural Equity & Access Initiatives Team.

Working closely with our Executive Director, this team will serve a dual purpose (1) working internally to support employee human resources needs and helping program staff incorporate equity and access goals in all program development and decision-making, and (2) working externally with grantees and stakeholders to build momentum and provide guidance and best practices for this important work across the cultural sector.

Meet the Cultural Equity & Access Initiatives Team

Catherine Cheng-Anderson stands in front of a wall covered in colorful amperstands and dots
Catherine Cheng-Anderson

Catherine Cheng-Anderson, Director of People & Culture
She/Her/Hers

Cathy joined Mass Cultural Council on November 1 in a new senior leadership role – Director of People & Culture.

Cathy serves as the key leader in overseeing the experience of the Agency’s most important resource, our people. As a member of senior staff, she will work to ensure the development and advancement of an empowered, value-driven, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture at Mass Cultural Council.

This newly-created role is responsible for building and maintaining the human resources (HR) functions of the Agency, including talent management; internal communication; organizational design; implementing HR processes; developing and implementing HR programs; and being a strategic human resources advisor to all. Additionally, Cathy will supervise staff assigned to lead Mass Cultural Council’s equity, access, and inclusion initiatives.

Cathy has experience working in both the nonprofit and public sectors. She has a master’s degree from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, a bachelor’s degree from Curry College, and an executive leadership certificate from Suffolk University.

Charles G. Baldwin standing in front of the Castle in Boston.
Charles G. Baldwin

Charles G. Baldwin, Access & Inclusion Program Officer
He/Him/His

Since 2016 Charles has led Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Initiative to direct organizational capacity that transforms Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance regulations into disability justice actions. Under his guidance, the UP Initiative developed two distinct grant programs for participating cultural nonprofits, with the impact of the Initiative recognized with a LEAD award in 2019 for its success with employing people with disabilities as consultants, teachers, artists, and panelists.

Charles is a professional theater artist and has been a production designer locally with Wheelock Family Theatre, the Gold Dust Orphans, BalletRox, City Stage, and the Harwich Junior Theatre. He has also worked in San Francisco with the Phoenix Theatre, Theater Artists of Marin, Thick Description, and the Joe Goode Performance Group. He is a founding member of the Z Collective (SF), the Consortium of Boston Area’s Children Theaters (CBACT), Theater Artists Marketing Alliance (TAMA), and serves on the executive committee of Cultural Access New England (CANE). His drawings and works on paper have been exhibited at the Towne Art Gallery, Providence Pride, Strut SF, and the Brickbottom Artists Association.

Cheyenne Cohn-Postell taking a selfie in front of a large mirror outside that's part of an art installation.
Cheyenne Cohn-Postell

Cheyenne Cohn-Postell, Equity & Inclusion Program Officer
She/Her/Hers

Cheyenne joined Mass Cultural Council in early 2020 as a member of the Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) team, working to provide unrestricted operating support and relevant technical assistance to the smallest third of the 300+ organizations in the Portfolio. During this time, she also managed the Gaming Mitigation Program, which provided $3.4 million in financial support to performing arts centers that are now competing with resort-style casinos to book touring shows and artists.

As Cheyenne joins the new Cultural Equity & Access Initiatives Team, she brings with her a passion for making racial, gender, and socio-economic equity feel attainable, actionable, and achievable. Prior to taking on this new role, she was a leader in the Agency’s Race Equity Task Force and active member of the POC Employee Affinity Group. Her initial focus in this position will be to enact the steps of Mass Cultural Council’s Racial Equity Plan by creating working groups, supervising BIPOC Outreach Coordinators, and creating partnerships with experts in the cultural and anti-racism fields.

Learn More About Our Racial Equity Work

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