Artists leaders and artist-run groups addressing arts issues in Massachusetts
August 1, 2016
Massachusetts Cultural Council Press Release
(Boston, MA) — The Massachusetts Legislature voted overwhelmingly Sunday to restore $7.7 million in state funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).
Both the House and Senate voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s veto and restore MCC’s budget to $14 million, level with the fiscal year that ended last month. The Governor proposed cutting MCC’s funding to support the arts, humanities, and sciences by 55 percent, to $6.5 million.
Had that July 8 veto stood, state cultural funding would have regressed more than two decades, triggering substantial cuts to grants to nonprofit cultural organizations, communities, schools and youth programs. Yesterday’s House vote was 156–2 in favor of the override; the Senate vote was 38–0.
The Legislature’s Cultural Caucus led the effort with a letter circulated to House and Senate leaders asking them to prioritize MCC in budget veto overrides. MASSCreative, with support from Mass Humanities, Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and many others statewide, urged their networks of advocates to encourage legislators to endorse the Cultural Caucus letter.
More than 12,000 emails and calls from citizens across the state flooded the inboxes and phone lines of legislators urging them to override the MCC veto. And several of the state’s major newspapers — the Boston Globe, Springfield Republican, and Berkshire Eagle, among others — editorialized in support of MCC. By last Friday, more than 130 members of the House and Senate — Democrats and Republicans, from every region of the Commonwealth — had signed on.
The Cultural Caucus effort was led by its Co-Chairs, Senator Dan Wolf of Harwich and Representative Smitty Pignatelli of Lenox; along with Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow and Representative Cory Atkins of Concord, Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development.
“Thanks to Senate President Rosenberg, House Speaker DeLeo, their leadership teams, and the many rank and file legislators who steadfastly supported the arts and cultural sector throughout this tumultuous budget process,” said Anita Walker, MCC Executive Director.
“On behalf of our Board and staff, I want to also express our deepest gratitude for the outpouring of public support for the MCC and the cultural community in the face of potentially devastating budget cuts,” she said. “It has reaffirmed our belief in the value of our work, and our commitment to the cultural community that we are privileged to support.”
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. The MCC pursues this mission through grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. Its budget for this fiscal year is just under $16 million, which includes a $14 million state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. The MCC also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.
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