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$9.1M State Investment into Cultural Facilities Approved

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

2021 Cultural Facilities Fund Awards Announced by Mass Cultural Council and MassDevelopment

sunlight pours into the Limonia at Tower Hill Botanic Garden
The Limonia, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Today the MassDevelopment Board of Directors approved $9,102,326 in new grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), a state program that provides capital and planning grants to nonprofits, colleges, and municipalities that own or operate facilities primarily focused on the arts, humanities, and sciences. CFF awards invest in the acquisition, design, repair, renovation, expansion, and construction of nonprofit and municipal cultural facilities.

“The Cultural Facilities Fund helps ensure Massachusetts residents and visitors can continue to enjoy our state’s many museums, theaters, historical sites, and other venues for years to come by providing the resources needed to build, expand, or improve these facilities,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Today’s $9 million-plus in grants will be a shot in the arm for our arts and culture sector as it rebuilds from the impacts of COVID-19, and wouldn’t be possible without the vision and leadership of the Baker-Polito Administration and our partners in the Legislature.”

“Today we celebrate a major capital investment – more than $9 million – into cultural facilities across Massachusetts, so our residents and visitors can safely enjoy access to programming focused on the arts, humanities and sciences,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “We appreciate the ongoing support of the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature for the CFF, which authorized this spending and permitted these awards to be made today.”

The 2021 CFF grant round includes 69 capital grants, totaling $8,590,326 as well as 29 planning grants worth $512,000. Awards range from $2,400 to $200,000 and must be matched one-to-one from private and/or other non-state sources. While approximately 75% of capital grants are used to address deferred maintenance and necessary facility repairs, new construction is also supported. Investments made in this grant round include:

  • $200,000 to Hudson Cultural Alliance for the purchase of a former National Guard Armory in downtown Hudson, which will be renovated and repurposed as a regional Performance and Community Arts Center.
  • $200,000 to Lowell Art Association for the renovation and expansion of the 200-year-old Whistler House, home to the oldest arts organization in the US, to construct a new multi-functional gallery, classrooms, and art center.
  • $200,000 to Martha’s Vineyard Film Society for the purchase of the MV Film Center, the primary year-round performance venue they have leased since 2012.
  • $200,000 to Williamstown Theatre Festival for the purchase and renovation of a former grocery store in North Adams to be used as a permanent facility for constructing theatrical sets.
  • $110,000 to Theatre Offensive for a new black box theater in the Fenway district, in partnership with Scape North America and the City of Boston, to be managed and operated by TTO for LGBTQ community use.
  • $90,000 to Foxboro Regional Center for the Performing Arts for critical safety repairs to the historic Orpheum Theater, including a new roof, HVAC system and fire curtain.

The CFF was created by an act of the Legislature in 2006 to achieve the following goals:

  • Enhance Massachusetts’ creative economy through financing for acquisition, construction, expansion, renovation, and repair of cultural facilities.
  • Increase employment, entrepreneurialism, and tourism in the regions where these facilities are located, especially by drawing new visitors from outside the Commonwealth.
  • Stimulate further investment in the arts, heritage, and sciences by preserving cultural resources.

Over 14 years the CFF has awarded $138 million to 1,161 projects across the Commonwealth, employing more than 31,082 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers. The nonprofit organizations engaged in this work have added 2,687 new permanent jobs after completing their projects.

The CFF’s impact extends beyond the nonprofit cultural sector in ways that benefit Massachusetts’ broader economy. The organizations who receive these grants generate millions in annual economic activity through direct spending on everything from supplies to energy to advertising. These cultural facilities are popular tourist destinations; more than six million people visited these sites in 2019 (prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020), with one-third of the visitors hailing from out of state. The CFF also spurs private investment, leveraging approximately $2.6 billion in spending on the building projects. Finally, CFF grants contribute to cultural preservation by helping to restore and expand many of our nation’s most treasured historical landmarks.

MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council jointly administer the CFF, and an Advisory Committee appointed by the Governor provides oversight to its operation. The program is funded through $10 million from the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 Capital Spending Plan, spending authorized by the state Legislature and allocated by the Governor.

“As the Commonwealth begins to emerge from the pandemic and cultural organizations prepare to safely reopen to the public, the CFF is an important economic revitalization tool and job creator, benefiting our cultural sector and the overall state economy,” said Bobbitt.

About Mass Cultural Council
Mass Cultural Council is an independent state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities. The Council pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.

About MassDevelopment
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.

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