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39 Performing Arts Centers Receive State Funds to Increase Buying Power in Contracting Touring Artists
Mass Cultural Council administers the Gaming Mitigation Program at the direction of the state Legislature. As established in the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act (MGL Section 59, chapter 23K), two percent (2%) of casino tax revenues are dedicated in part to mitigating a direct threat to the sustainability of non-profit and municipal performing arts centers. These funds provide capital to preserve these centers’ ability to compete with resort-style casinos to secure touring artists. Resort-style casinos have the advantage in booking national and international talent because they can cover increasing talent fees, as well as offer luxury housing for the artists themselves. In recent years, non-profit and municipal performing arts centers have been priced out of the touring market, even with acts they have hosted many times before.
In May 2020, 52 non-profit and municipally-owned performing arts centers across Massachusetts received grants in the first cycle of the Gaming Mitigation Program. In total, $3.34M was awarded to help mitigate the challenges these organizations face when directly competing with resort-style casinos to book touring artists. Even during the pandemic when public health concerns required closures and cancellations, these monies were crucial as organizations were struggling to book artists for virtual performances, while also paying contracted artists for canceled, in-person performances.
After pausing the program for a year to ensure funds could provide comparable support to the sector in its second cycle, Mass Cultural Council is pleased to announce the recipients of FY22 Gaming Mitigation grants. Thirty-nine presenting organizations will receive a total of $3,675,000. In this round, grant awards range from $2,500 – $250,000 and are based on a formula that takes into account the percentage of performances featuring touring artists, and the amount of fees paid to those artists.
One unique fact about the Gaming Mitigation Program is that it invests in some municipally-owned performing arts centers that do not (or have not in the last 10 years) receive funding from other Agency programs. These performing arts centers are integral to the vitality of their communities, and with funds from the Gaming Mitigation Program they will continue to be able to bring national and international talent to the Commonwealth.