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Legislature Votes by Wide Margins to Sustain Budget Increase for Culture

Greg Liakos, Communications Director

(Boston, MA) – An overwhelming, bipartisan majority of state legislators voted to override a veto of a budget increase to the Mass Cultural Council for the new fiscal year. The overrides set the agency’s FY19 state appropriation at $16 million, ensuring increased investment in nonprofit cultural organizations, communities, artists, school and youth programs statewide.

Last Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the Legislature’s appropriation for Mass Cultural Council, one of dozens of line items he rejected in the FY19 budget approved by the House and Senate earlier last week. It was the fourth straight year in which the Governor vetoed the Council’s budget. The following day, however, the state House of Representatives voted 141-8 to override that veto. Yesterday the Senate followed suit, voting unanimously, 37-0, to support the override.

“This is a strong endorsement of the work of the cultural community,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. “Thanks once again to all of our supporters in the House and Senate, and to MASSCreative and all of our advocates who made sure their voices were heard in this budget debate. We will put these funds to work to strengthen our creative economy, provide more opportunities for young people, and expand access to our rich cultural life for all.”

Members of the Mass Cultural Council are scheduled to discuss and vote on a spending plan for FY19 at their next scheduled meeting August 28 in Lawrence. That plan will allocate amounts for all grant programs, initiatives, and services. The new fiscal year began July 1.

State budget support for the arts, humanities, and sciences through Mass Cultural Council was $19 million in FY02—nearly $27 million in today’s dollars. For the past three years, state support for the Council remained flat at $14 million. Annual federal-state partnership grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) have also been flat. As a result Mass Cultural Council grants for nonprofits, local cultural councils, artists, and schools remain far below historic levels. At the same time demand for these funds grows each year as population increases and more communities seek to realize the benefits of supporting arts, culture, and the creative economy.

About the Mass Cultural Council

The Mass Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences, to improve our quality of life and contribute to the vitality of our communities. The agency pursues this mission through grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. Its FY18 budget is $18 million, supported through a $16 million state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. Mass Cultural Council also runs the $10 million Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.

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