The Massachusetts Cultural Council has announced that it will increase its funding to cultural organizations in fiscal year 2014. The state agency will disperse nearly $10 million in grants to “nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations, local cultural councils, education programs, and working artists across the Commonwealth.”
The MCC’s stated commitment comes from an increase in its state appropriation. “Thanks to support from the Legislature, we will be able to increase investments that will make a real difference to our partners in the cultural sector,” said Executive Director Anita Walker. This increase will allow the MCC to bolster arts funding in the wake of Federal Government budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2010, the NEA’s federal appropriation from Congress has been cut by nearly $30 million, and since 2011, the NEA has cut funding to the MCC by $127,000. Earlier this year, the Massachusetts State House of Representatives recommended cutting the cultural agency’s budget by $1.5 million, which follow steep cuts in the agency’s state appropriation in 2009 and 2010. In the final agreement, the Legislature and Governor approved a $1.6 million increase to the cultural agency’s appropriation.
Through the investment of grant money, the MCC seeks to make arts programming accessible to adults and children in communities state-wide. To this end, the state grants will help fund a variety of nonprofit organizations, school programs, community theater groups, and other artists dedicated to bringing cultural events to a wider audience. The awards will be given to nonprofits in the form of one-to-one matching grants. Communities will receive funding commensurate with their size and need, with large cities like Boston and Worcester receiving five-figure awards while smaller communities receive grants no smaller than $4,000.
Additionally, MCC appropriations are aimed to encourage cities and towns to grow their local creative economies by allowing artists to live and work in their communities. “These dollars will strengthen our economy, expand access to cultural programs, and enhance the quality of life in our cities and towns,” said State Representative Cory Atkins of Concord, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, & Cultural Development. The grants include mechanisms to measure the economic impacts of these artists and creative professionals on their localities.
The increase in cultural funding coincides with a greater emphasis on humanities programs as seen in Boston’s recent mayoral election where incoming mayor Martin Walsh has stated a commitment to the arts. Walsh’s campaign web site expresses a desire to bring cultural events to Boston’s communities in the form of financial advancements. He also voiced an intention to expand the city’s arts education in public schools, space allocation for artists of all disciplines, and investments in the creative economy. In 2014, the Boston Cultural Council stands to gain $152,020 in local council grants from the new MCC appropriation.