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$25.5M for Arts & Culture in Senate Ways & Means Budget

Bethann Steiner, Senior Director of Public Affairs

When Governor Healey announced that she was recommending an increase in state budget funding for Mass Cultural Council in January, during Creative Sector Advocacy Day, we were thrilled to see her $25.5 million recommendation for the Agency in her FY25 H. 2 budget.

Recognizing state revenues had not met expectations for months, this 2.17% increase to Mass Cultural Council’s operating budget, which supports our program and services, was well-received. This is the figure we urged the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways & Means to embrace as they began to craft their spending plans.

In April, the House Committee on Ways & Means released their FY25 budget, which included $25,895,000 for the Agency. After the House budget debate a number of earmarks, which provide dedicated funding to specific projects or organizations, were added to the Agency’s budget account, increasing Mass Cultural Council’s appropriation to $26,750,000 in the Final FY25 House Budget. Broken down, this figure represents $25,895,000 for Mass Cultural Council programs and $855,000 for earmarks. If signed into law, the Agency would receive a 3.58% increase to its operating budget.

Now we are in the month of May, and it is time for the Massachusetts Senate to finalize its budget recommendations. On May 7 the Senate Committee on Ways & Means released its FY25 spending plan. This budget embraced our request and funded Mass Cultural Council at the Governor’s recommendation – $25,546,197. Mass Cultural Council deeply appreciates the Committee’s recommendation, which is an increase to our current operating budget. Thank you to Senate President Karen Spilka; Senate Ways & Means Chair Michael Rodrigues; Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Committee Chair Paul Mark; and all the Senators who included arts and culture as a funding priority in their internal conversations with the budget committee this year.

Senators have until May 10 to file amendments to the Senate Ways & Means budget. Mass Cultural Council is grateful to Chair Paul Mark who is filing an amendment to propose increasing the Agency’s account in the Senate Budget to match the Final House Budget’s figure – $26,750,000.

Senators and staff will review the filed budget amendments during the week of May 13 and add their names to some proposals as co-sponsors.

Advocacy Alert

Creative and cultural sector stakeholders are urged to reach out to their state Senate office during the week of May 13 to ask them to support and co-sponsor Chair Mark’s Amendment #171 to increase Mass Cultural Council’s appropriation.

MASSCreative and Mass Humanities, our statewide advocacy partners, are joining us in this advocacy exercise. They will also urge their members to reach out to their Senators in support of this amendment. MASSCreative is hosting an action alert that you can use to connect with your state Senator.

Increasing the Mass Cultural Council’s FY25 state budget appropriation to $26,750,000 will allow the Agency to continue to equitably support and invest in the growth of the creative and cultural sector, and make more grant awards to creative individuals, cultural organizations, youth arts education programs, and communities. This year (FY24), Mass Cultural Council awarded approximately 2,500 grants.

We know public support of arts and culture reaps many economic benefits for communities across the Commonwealth, and that sector is strong and vibrant is Massachusetts, and providing beneficial impacts – in terms of revenue, employment, and community health, wellness, and vibrancy.

In April, the U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released new federal data which shows that in 2022, arts and culture in Massachusetts:

  • Generated $28.6 billion in economic activity
  • Supported 133,773 jobs
  • Equaled 4.1% of the state economy

This tracks, because also this year, Massachusetts was ranked #3 in the nation for arts vibrancy by SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research.

Mass Cultural Council knows arts and culture are essential for a healthy, prosperous, and vibrant Commonwealth. We thank our partners in the Senate for their support of the power of culture and hope they will support Chair Mark’s amendment to increase the Agency’s funding in the Final Senate Budget to match the House’s $26.75 million figure.

Next Steps in the FY25 Budget Process

  • Senators and staff will review the filed budget amendments during the week of May 13 and add their names to some proposals as co-sponsors.
  • Senate budget debate occurs the week of May 20.
  • A Conference Committee will be appointed by the House and Senate to finalize a FY25 spending plan, based on the final House and Senate budgets. Once adopted by both Chambers it is sent to the Governor for final approval.
  • FY25 begins on July 1, 2024.

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