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$9.3M State Investment in Cultural Facilities Authorized

Bethann Steiner, Communications Director

2020 Cultural Facilities Fund Awards Announced by Mass Cultural Council and MassDevelopment

The exterior of Gore Place, recipient of a 2020 Cultural Facilities Fund grant.
The exterior of Gore Place, one cultural organization approved for a 2020 Cultural Facilities Fund grant.


Today the MassDevelopment Board of Directors approved $9,302,400 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.

“We are pleased to once again partner with Mass Cultural Council to award more than $9 million in grants to build, repair, or expand cultural facilities across the Commonwealth,” said MassDevelopment President & CEO Lauren Liss. “These museums, performance venues, and other cultural institutions represent an important piece of Massachusetts’ economy, so we thank the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature for supporting these critical investments.”

“I would like to thank the Governor and Legislature for their continued support of this important program. These grants will boost jobs in the construction industry at a critical time of increased unemployment, while investing in the cultural sector which is critical to the vitality of Main Street businesses,” said Anita Walker, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council.

The 2020 CFF grant round includes 68 capital grants totaling $8,748,000 and another 32 planning grants totaling $554,400. Awards range from $7,000 to $200,000 and must be matched one-to-one from private and/or other public sources. Investments made in this grant round include:

  • $200,000 to the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston for the final architectural engineering of the historic Huntington Avenue Theatre, as well as the creation of the new “East Wing” Audience Engagement Center in the adjacent residential tower, which will include a small performance venue, a bar/café, an expanded box office, concessions, and restroom facilities.
  • $180,000 to the Hopkinton Center for the Arts to renovate and repurpose a 19th-century farmhouse for music and ceramic program space.
  • $110,000 to Wistariahurst Museum Association in Holyoke to update decaying and unsafe electrical wiring.
  • $70,000 to the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River for the purchase and installation of a new concert lighting system, new audio/visual equipment, and window treatments in the new multi-function space.
  • $60,000 to Greenagers in Great Barrington to repair the historic barn and floor structure to create a functional workshop, maker space, and barnyard at the April Hill Conservation and Education Center.

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

Over 13 years the CFF has awarded $129 million to 1,063 projects across the Commonwealth, employing more than 29,350 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers. The nonprofit organizations engaged in this work expect to add 2,500 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 awarded grants generate millions in annual economic activity through direct spending on everything from supplies to energy and advertising. They are popular tourist destinations: more than six million people visited these sites in the past year, one-third from out of state. The CFF has also spurred private investment, leveraging about $2.8 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.

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 2020 capital spending plan, authorized by the state Legislature and allocated by the Governor.

Moving forward the CFF is viewed as an important economic revitalization tool for the cultural sector. Cultural organizations have been financially devastated by closures and cancellations related to COVID-19, reporting more than a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue loss and thousands of jobs impacted.

“As Massachusetts moves to reopen and loosen social distancing measures, the cultural sector will require technical assistance from experts to understand public expectations and ensure health and safety during group events, as well as capital assistance to invest in the facilities, retrofit equipment, and allow responsible reopening to proceed,” said Anita Walker. “Massachusetts is fortunate to have the CFF as an existing tool for our post-COVID reopening strategy and plans.”

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. 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. During FY2019, MassDevelopment financed or managed 316 projects generating investment of more than $2 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 9,743 jobs and build or preserve 1,992 housing units.

Mass Culture Council Contact: Bethann Steiner 617-791-5847
MassDevelopment Contact: Kelsey Schiller 617-694-9695

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