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A “Tale of the Tape”

David T. Slatery, Acting Executive Director and Deputy Director

Reflecting on the last seven months

All of us at Mass Cultural Council are very excited for Michael J. Bobbitt to join us as our new Executive Director on Monday. We welcome his arrival and look forward to advancing the power of culture under his leadership. As one of my last acts as Acting Executive Director, I wanted to review the last seven months and highlight what Mass Cultural Council has been able to achieve during a very uncertain time. This was truly a “WE” effort, and I see even better days ahead. It has been an honor to serve as your Acting Executive Director. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me, and for your collegiality and friendship.

JULY 2020-JANUARY 2021

  1. Continued to deliver high quality and core government services and programs to the Commonwealth’s cultural sector during the COVID-19 pandemic – totally virtually.
  2. Successfully advocated for public investment in the cultural sector, which resulted in:
    1. $18,180,000 – level funding during a pandemic and economic crisis – in the FY21 state budget, which informs our robust FY21 Agency spending plan.
    2. $31,000,000 in new capital spending authorizations to support the cultural sector’s recovery from COVID through 3 new grant programs to be administered by the Agency if programmed into the state’s FY22 capital plan.
    3. $10,000,000 in CARES Act funding to 183 needy cultural organizations, administered in partnership with EOHED, for the Baker-Polito Administration’s Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program, part of the Governor’s economic recovery plan for the Commonwealth.
  3. Provided a safe space for the cultural sector and held four statewide racial equity listening sessions, which drew a combined 398 registrants.
  4. Continued to focus on our own Council’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and access goals with racial equity training sessions with Multicultural BRIDGE of Great Barrington, MA.
  5. Supported the governing Council’s nation-wide search for a new executive director which resulted after an extensive nearly 10-month process in the appointment of Michael J. Bobbitt as the executive director to lead the Council’s next chapter.
  6. Hosted 163 virtual convenings (webinars, info sessions, listening sessions, office hours, etc. as posted on Agency Dates).
  7. Published 63 blog posts on the Power of Culture blog, which chronicles the stories and impacts of culture in the Commonwealth.
  8. Began to build relationships with the 19 newly-elected state legislators on Beacon Hill.
  9. Implemented our “Safe Harbors” initiative which, through webinars and targeted assistance, helped secure $21M in federal COVID assistance for cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts.
  10. Provided expert testimony during the Massachusetts Senate’s special hearing on reopening the state’s economy: Tourism, Arts, Culture & Small Business.
  11. Surveyed and released oft-cited COVID economic impact data on the cultural sector (in March, April, July AND November 2020) – solidifying the Agency’s leadership role for the sector.
  12. Embraced and co-authored the Create, Connect and Catalyze Framework in our Creative Youth Development work.
  13. Leaned heavily into delivering vital services to the sector when the FY21 state budget was delayed by 6 months.
  14. Released findings from the exciting new CultureRx Social Prescription Pilot and continued the work with a new cohort.
  15. Established a salary disclosure policy for those posting on – an important step in addressing pay gaps and inequity in the cultural sector.
  16. Received Council approval of the Agency’s FY21 spending plan including $16.6 million in new grants and began its implementation.
  17. Launched applications for the following programs – Cultural Facilities Fund, Local Cultural Council Program, Universal Participation Initiative’s UP Designations and Innovation & Learning Network, Artist Fellowships, COVID-19 Relief Fund for Individuals (in April 2020 and January 2021), GKV Foundation Relief Fund for Berkshire County Theater Professionals, STARS Residencies, Festivals, Cultural Districts, and CIP Projects.
  18. As a continuation of our “Safe Harbors” program work, launched an RFP to support cultural nonprofits, which will result in 40+ webinars to support the Recover, Rebuild, Renew Series, a cornerstone of the Agency’s FY21 service agenda to the field.
  19. Coordinated statewide advocacy with MASSCreative and Mass Humanities to support state investment in the field through the budget and other legislative vehicles.
  20. Celebrated the work of 13 new Traditional Arts Apprenticeships.
  21. Supported Mass History Day and Poetry Out Loud school programs.
  22. Reported key data to the Legislature through mandated reports on the Cultural Facilities Fund and our FY21 spending plan.
  23. Built a new grants management platform.
  24. Moved out of our traditional “program teams” to establish a number of cross-agency working groups to discuss, define and deliver innovative new services that will benefit the entire sector in COVID-19 recovery efforts.

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