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Arts & Culture in Line to Receive Record State Investment in FY22

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

Senate approves Mass Cultural Council’s $20M spending request

Updated 5/28/21: Yesterday the Massachusetts Senate completed its work on the FY22 state budget, passing a $47.72 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year after three days of debate. As outlined below, Mass Cultural Council was thrilled when our FY22 $20M spending request was included in the Senate Ways & Means Committee budget; this meant the Agency was not seeking any amendments during the debate.

One budget amendment (#242) proposed adding a $50,000 earmark for a local cultural center to the Agency’s line item account, however it was not adopted.  As such, the Senate FY22 Final Budget funds Mass Cultural Council at $20 Million, embracing our request. The last time the state invested at least $20 million into arts and culture through the Agency’s account in the state budget was THREE DECADES AGO, in Fiscal Years 1987 ($23.5M), 1988 ($27.4M), and 1989 ($25.1M).

Mass Cultural Council is ever mindful that securing this level of funding in the Senate budget is a key endorsement of the Agency, our work, the importance of the cultural sector in the Commonwealth, and recognition of the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that we have been documenting for more than a year. Mass Cultural Council is truly thankful for the support of our partners in the Senate, especially Senate President Karen Spilka, Ways & Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, and TACD Chair Ed Kennedy for their leadership in securing this robust public investment to help us stabilize the cultural sector.

The Final House and Senate FY22 Budgets will now be sent to a 6-Member Conference Committee charged with resolving any differences in the two spending plans and creating a final FY22 Conference Budget.  Once the FY22 Conference Budget is adopted by both Chambers it will be forwarded to Governor Baker.  Because the Final House FY22 Budget includes earmarks for local projects in the Agency’s line item that are not a part of the Final Senate Budget, our account will be part of the Conference Committee’s deliberations.  Mass Cultural Council will submit testimony to the conferees, urging them to retain the $20 million appropriation and fund any local earmarks in the Agency’ account. 

Now is a good time to email your state Senator and thank them for their support of the cultural sector in the FY22 Senate Budget.



In March, Mass Cultural Council unveiled the Power of Culture Advocacy Campaign: proposing a mix of state budget spending; bond authorizations; and bills to stabilize, rebuild, and provide COVID-19 relief to the cultural sector. For the coming fiscal year – FY22, which begins on July 1, 2021 – Mass Cultural Council requests a state appropriation of $20M to support the Agency’s annual programs and services.

In April, the state House of Representatives approved a FY22 budget that invested $21,375,000 into the cultural sector through the Agency’s line item, representing the highest amount of funding for Mass Cultural Council in three decades.

Today, the state budgeting process begins in the Massachusetts Senate. The Senate Committee on Ways & Means has released its FY22 spending proposal, and Mass Cultural Council is thrilled to report the Committee has granted our FY22 funding request. The Senate Committee on Ways & Means budget funds arts and culture, through the Agency’s line item, at $20 million in the coming fiscal year.

Senate Members have until 2:00pm this Friday, May 14 to file budget amendments. The Senate will begin its FY22 budget debate the week of May 24. As with the House budget debate, because the Senate Committee adopted Mass Cultural Council’s spending request, we will not seek any amendments during the Senate budget debate. We will monitor the Senate debate and any amendments filed that may be of relevance to the Agency’s line item and the cultural sector.

For weeks, our new Executive Director, Michael J. Bobbitt, has prioritized advocacy, spending hours meeting virtually with 28 State Senators from all over the Commonwealth to build support for the Agency’s FY22 budget request and the Power of Culture Advocacy Campaign. The relationships he is forging and the data he is sharing on Beacon Hill are key to securing robust public investment in the cultural sector.

Mass Cultural Council is deeply appreciative of the record investment proposed today by the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. The Agency enthusiastically thanks Senate President Karen Spilka; Ways & Means Chair Michael Rodrigues; Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Chair Ed Kennedy; and all the Senate Members who pledged to make the cultural sector a priority in FY22.

Mass Cultural Council is proud and ever-mindful that success in this budget building cycle – securing the requested $20 million in FY22 from both the House and Senate Ways & Means Committees without need of any amendments – is an endorsement of the importance of the cultural sector to the Commonwealth’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency’s work, and the power of culture.

Action Alert

We have 20 million reasons to say “thank you” to the Massachusetts Senate. Please email your state Senator today and tell them how much you appreciate their support for this FY22 investment into the cultural sector using MASSCreative’s advocacy alert.

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