Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Senate Budget Plan Boosts Cultural Funding & Supports New Public Art Measure

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State Senate Budget Plan Boosts Cultural Funding & Supports New Public Art Measure
(Boston, MA) - The Massachusetts Senate demonstrated strong support for the arts, humanities, and sciences in the Fiscal 2018 budget plan it approved last week, boosting cultural funding by 18 percent and approving a new program to support public art.

Those proposals now go before a House-Senate conference committee charged with reconciling the two chambers' approaches to the budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The House and Senate then must approve a final budget plan before sending it back to the Governor, who can sign it, veto it, or veto select line items.

Over the next several weeks the Mass Cultural Council and its advocacy partners—MASSCreative, Mass Humanities, Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and others—will urge members of that conference committee to adopt the Senate plan so the benefits of public support for culture can be shared across more communities.

"The Senate showed real leadership at a time of continuing pressure on state finances," said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. "They heard from advocates statewide that state support for culture is not a subsidy—it is a down payment on our future prosperity as a Commonwealth."

The final Senate budget calls for $16.5 million to support the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Mass Cultural Council. That would represent an increase of $2.5 million, or 18 percent. By contrast, the House would allocate $12 million for the arts and culture, a cut of roughly 13 percent, for next year. Current state arts funding via Mass Cultural Council is $14 million.

The budget plan also included language sponsored by Senator Eric Lesser of East Longmeadow to establish the Massachusetts Public Art Program (MPAP), which would set aside funds for the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. MASSCreative and its advocates campaigned in support of the measure.

"The Senate budget offers a real chance to further fuel our creative economy," said Walker. "We will put those additional dollars to work in ways that drive cultural tourism, employment, and community vitality across the Commonwealth."

Walker urged the cultural community to thank their Senators for their show of support, and ask their Representatives to support the arts and culture provisions in the Senate budget.

Arts and cultural leaders can go to our Advocacy Action Center for additional background on the process and information for making the case to lawmakers.

About the Mass Cultural Council

The Mass Cultural Council is a state agency supporting the arts, sciences, and humanities, to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. It pursues its mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. The agency's total budget for this fiscal year is $16.1 million, which includes a $14 million state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. The Council also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.
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