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Home / Blog / Advocacy / ARPA Spending Bill Includes $60.1M for New Cultural Sector Relief Grants

ARPA Spending Bill Includes $60.1M for New Cultural Sector Relief Grants

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

Update: December 13, 2021 – Governor Baker has signed this legislation into law. Mass Cultural Council will soon start internal and external conversations on how to best design and administer pandemic recovery grant programs to assist artists and cultural organizations, as outlined below.

 

Last week the legislative conference committee tasked with ironing-out any differences between the final House and Senate ARPA spending plan bills released its report: H. 4269, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs. The bill was quickly adopted by the House and Senate and is now on Governor Baker’s desk. The Governor has until December 13 to review and act on the bill.

This legislation, a much-anticipated $4 billion spending plan, invests surplus state revenues and federal ARPA funds into economic sectors impacted by the pandemic to spur recovery statewide.

Of note is line-item 1599-2043, a reserve for cultural and tourism assets, from which funds are available for Mass Cultural Council to administer new grant programs supporting cultural organizations and artists to help recover from the pandemic and operate more efficiently.

While the total appropriation for this account is $135M, more than half (55.4%) of the funds are earmarked, a practice legislators use to direct funds to priority local projects, organizations, or initiatives within their districts. After the 119 earmarks are paid, Mass Cultural Council will have $60.1M available for recovery grantmaking:

Total Appropriation Line-Item 1599-2043 $134,978,000
Total Earmarked Spending (55.4%) $74,831,000
MTBA Norfolk County Stations Earmark $50,000,000
Cultural Sector Earmarks $13,596,000
Economic Development Earmarks $5,255,000
Social Services Earmarks $1,825,000
Infrastructure Projects Earmarks $1,705,000
Other / Misc. Earmarks $1,172,000
Workforce Development Earmarks $900,000
Municipal Earmarks $378,000
Total Available for New Grants (44.6%) $60,147,000

While the total amount available for grantmaking, $60.1M, is less than envisioned by both the House ARPA bill ($125M) and the Senate ARPA bill ($75M), it is still a substantial investment in the cultural sector’s pandemic recovery – and triple the Agency’s annual state budget appropriation. Mass Cultural Council thanks our partners on Beacon Hill for ensuring artists and cultural organizations will benefit from this spending plan.

Mass Cultural Council encourages Governor Baker to approve this legislation, so that the Agency can develop new grant opportunities to equitably provide COVID relief to both artists and cultural organizations. We anticipate convening a public session to hear directly from you, our stakeholders, in the new year on how these funds should be employed.


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