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$9.27 Million in New Capital Funds Awarded to Support Mass Cultural Economy

Carmen Plazas, Communications Manager

Tidepool at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Photo by Teresa Izzo.
Tidepool at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, a previous CFF grant recipient. Photo by Teresa Izzo.

The MassDevelopment Board of Directors has approved $9.27 million 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.

The 2019 Round includes 64 capital grants totaling more than $8.7 million and another 29 planning grants totaling more than $500,000. Grants range from $7,000 to $200,000 and must be matched one-to-one from private and/or other public sources. They include:

  • $200,000 to Community Access to the Arts in Great Barrington to create a universally accessible community arts center for artists with disabilities.
  • $150,000 for the Town of Marblehead to renovate and restore the Fort Sewall, to draw new visitors to one of the oldest coastal fortifications in the U.S.
  • $200,000 for Creative Hub Worcester, the adaptive reuse of a former Boys Club into a multi-use arts center with classroom, studio, exhibition, and performance space.
  • $190,000 to the Footlight Club Community Theatre to support accessibility improvements to its home at the historic Eliot Hall in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

“Both residents and visitors benefit greatly from all that Massachusetts’ cultural institutions have to offer,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Investments in the arts will help support tourism efforts across the Commonwealth and give more people the opportunity to experience its rich cultural history.”

“The Commonwealth is fortunate to serve as the home for top arts, humanities, and sciences organizations,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Our administration will continue to support efforts to boost the creative economy in all corners of Massachusetts.”

“We’re proud to co-administer the Cultural Facilities Fund, which supports Massachusetts’ vibrant creative economy by enabling these key community assets to grow and maintain their physical infrastructure,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “We’re grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature for their continued commitment to cultural facilities across the Commonwealth.”

“The CFF is a national model capital program that invests in some of our Commonwealth’s most treasured assets: our nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. “We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for its continued support of this program.”

The Legislature created the CFF through an economic development bill in 2006 to achieve the following goals:

  • Enhance the state’s 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 drawing new visitors from outside the Commonwealth.
  • Stimulate further investment in the arts, heritage, and sciences by preserving cultural resources.

With this new round of grants, the CFF has awarded over $119 million to more than 960 projects across the Commonwealth, employing more than 27,000 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers. The nonprofit organizations engaged in this work plan to add 2,300 new permanent jobs after completing their projects.

The CFF’s impact extends beyond the nonprofit cultural sector in ways that benefit the broader economy. The organizations awarded grants generate $17 million in annual economic activity through direct spending on everything from supplies to energy and advertising. They are popular tourist destinations: over 20 million people visit these sites annually, one-third from out of state. The CFF has also spurred private investment, leveraging about $2.6 billion in spending on their building projects. Finally, CFF grants contribute to cultural preservation by helping to restore and expand many of our nation’s most treasured historical landmarks.

Demand for these funds continues to grow. Last November, Mass Cultural Council surveyed nonprofit cultural organizations to determine the pipeline of construction projects in the planning stages over the next two to three years. In total, 127 organizations reported plans to invest in capital projects equaling $335 million.

MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council jointly administer the CFF, and an Advisory Committee appointed by the Governor provides oversight to its operation. The grants are supported through $10 million from the state’s fiscal year 2019 capital plan, authorized by the state Legislature and allocated by the Governor.

About Mass Cultural Council

Mass Cultural Council is a 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. Mass Cultural Council is committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities across the Commonwealth. 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, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2018, MassDevelopment financed or managed 384 projects generating investment of more than $4.1 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create or support 10,994 jobs and build or rehabilitate 830 housing  units.


Carmen Plazas, Mass Cultural Council, 617-858-2738

Kelsey Schiller, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2011 & 617-694-9695 (cell)

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