Mass Senate Votes Unanimously to Restore Culture Funding
(Boston, MA) – The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously today to restore nearly $2 million in state funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Mass Cultural Council.
The bipartisan override to Governor Charlie Baker's veto restores cultural funding to $14 million for FY18, level with the fiscal year that ended in June. The vote closes the books on a lengthy budget process that began last January. It assures Mass Cultural Council's ability to maintain funding for core programs such as operating support for nonprofit cultural organizations and grants to local cultural councils, cultural districts, creative youth development and education programs, and artists.
The Senate vote followed a House override earlier this month to restore cultural funding, which passed with wide support. Today's override was led by Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst, Ways & Means Committee Chair Karen Spilka of Ashland, and Adam Hinds of Pittsfield, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development.
Spilka said cultural funding is a "priority of the Senate" in part because of its role in supporting arts education and job creation. "It's our job to continue to enhance our communities through the arts, sciences, and humanities," she said on the Senate floor.
Hinds and his Joint Committee Co-Chair, Representative Cory Atkins of Concord, circulated letters to their House and Senate colleagues asking them to prioritize Mass Cultural Council in budget veto overrides. MASSCreative, with support from Mass Humanities, Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and many others statewide, urged advocates to encourage their legislators to endorse the letter and thus ensure a wide base of support.
"A community isn't complete until there are the arts feeding the souls of the people and a healthy democracy," remarked Rosenberg at a creative economy press conference in Boston Monday.
"We are so fortunate to have a Senate President and a leadership team who truly understand the transformative power of the arts, humanities, and sciences in their communities," said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. "Thanks to vigorous, persistent advocacy from our many partners across the Commonwealth, we've weathered another stormy fiscal year. We will continue to make the case for cultural funding and ensure the arts, humanities, and sciences have a seat at the public policy table on Beacon Hill throughout this legislative session and beyond."
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 $15.7 million, which includes a state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. The Mass Cultural Council also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.