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Legislatively-Mandated, One-Time Relief Program was Established by the MA House Asian Caucus
Mass Cultural Council today announces the 51 recipients of the FY22 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Arts & Culture COVID-19 Recovery Program, a one-time pandemic relief program established and funded through a legislative earmark in the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget secured by members of the Massachusetts House Asian Caucus.
“We understood the Massachusetts House Asian Caucus wished to prioritize and provide pandemic recovery funds to organizations focused on one or more Asian ethnicity that conduct cultural events, cultural education, or cultural performances,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “I appreciate the Caucus’ trust in us to develop and execute their vision and acknowledge the leadership and expertise of the Caucus Members who provided our team with valuable assistance during program development.”
The Massachusetts House of Representatives’ FY22 budget debate took place in April 2021, during which an amendment sponsored by a group of bipartisan Caucus members — Representatives Tackey Chan (D- Quincy), Donald H. Wong, (R- Saugus), Paul A. Schmid, III (D- Westport), Rady Mom (D- Lowell), Maria D. Robinson (D- Framingham), Tram T. Nguyen (D- Andover), Vanna Howard (D- Lowell) and Erika Uyterhoeven (D- Somerville) – was adopted.
The earmark was signed into law, included in line-item 0640-0300 of the FY22 state budget, and directed Mass Cultural Council to design and administer a one-time program to uplift and provide financial assistance to AAPI arts and culture organizations economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a prepared statement, the Massachusetts House Asian Caucus lauded the investments made possible through the program:
“Thank you to the Mass Cultural Council and our colleagues in the Legislature for their support of this vital funding. The Agency’s implementation of the grant program will help revitalize our arts economy and support the work of our cultural organizations. These organizations are a source of local pride that enrich our communities and provide educational resources to help combat anti-Asian racism and strengthen our neighborhoods.”
COVID-19 has not only impacted AAPI cultural organizations financially; the community is also working to combat the effects of anti-Asian discrimination, which has increased during the pandemic. Through these disparities, the AAPI arts and culture sector is raising awareness and providing cultural education and events for communities.
Administering this program helped Mass Cultural Council to advance its goal to prioritize and invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the cultural sector, as outlined in the Agency’s Racial Equity Plan.
The AAPI Arts & Culture COVID-19 Recovery Program funds all eligible applicants, granting a total of $975,000 to 51 nonprofit, for-profit, and fiscally-sponsored organizations that specifically reflect and serve one or more community that self-identify as Asian or Pacific Islander. Grant awards range between $5,000 and $45,000 and are based on reported changes in earned revenue between 2019 and 2020. Organizations with greater economic losses received larger grant awards, to assist in their pandemic recovery.
Thirty-two organizations — 63% of the grant recipients — are first-time applicants to a Mass Cultural Council program.
“We are so pleased this program introduced Mass Cultural Council to new communities,” said Bobbitt, “and we are thrilled to welcome these 32 new organizations to our programs and services. We hope to continue to serve and support them in other capacities.”