Power of Culture Blog
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Mass Cultural Council today announces that its Card to Culture program has surpassed one million admissions for low-income and working families to Massachusetts cultural organizations.
“Six years into this visionary partnership, cultural organizations from Pittsfield to Provincetown have now voluntarily welcomed Card to Culture beneficiaries through their doors more than one million times, ensuring individuals and families of all socio-economic backgrounds are able to access and benefit firsthand from the power of culture in Massachusetts,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council.
A partnership between Mass Cultural Council and three other state entities: the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), the Massachusetts Health Connector, and the Department of Public Health’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition program, Card to Culture provides Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), WIC, and ConnectorCare health insurance program cardholders free or steeply discounted admission to a variety of arts, humanities, and science organizations across the Commonwealth.
Card to Culture is the nation’s most comprehensive effort to expand cultural and creative access for low-income and working families. Participating organizations offer discounts year-round. “This is not discounted admission on certain days and at certain times,” said Bobbitt. “Card to Culture opens the doors to Massachusetts’ incredible collection of museums, musical venues, zoos, creative classes, and theaters even wider so that all Massachusetts residents can fully participate in their extraordinary offerings. I’m thrilled to mark this milestone with our partners, and I’m eager to see more organizations get involved in the years to come.”
An example of the creative and cultural sector coming together with a vision benefiting all Massachusetts residents and communities, Card to Culture is not a grant program. The participating organizations volunteer to participate and offer these free or discounted admissions without repayment or compensation from the Agency.
Since its inception in 2017, more than 350 Massachusetts cultural organizations statewide have voluntarily participated in the Card to Culture program. This spring, organizations submitted annual reports to Mass Cultural Council documenting an increase in visitation compared to previous years. In 2022, more than 300,000 discounts were administered, bringing the cumulative total of discounted admissions to 1,081,000.
“DTA is proud to offer this program in collaboration with Mass Cultural Council to the more than 650,000 households we serve. Providing equitable access to arts and culture strengthens communities, improves physical and mental well-being, and boosts academic outcomes for children,” said Department of Transitional Assistance Acting Commissioner Mary Sheehan. “We are pleased to see the program reach this historic milestone and thank the cultural organizations across Massachusetts for partnering on such an important initiative – moving towards a Commonwealth where culture is inclusive and accessible for all.
As Massachusetts emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic participation in cultural and creative activities began anew, Card to Culture organizations reported a 44% increase in the total number of discounts administered in 2022 versus 2021. Along with many other benefits, participation in cultural activities is proven to reduce feelings of stress and isolation.
“Access to arts, culture, and heritage sites creates healthier lives and improved well-being for our members by creating positive community and creative experiences,” said Massachusetts Health Connector Executive Director Audrey Morse Gasteier. “The Health Connector is proud to partner with Mass Cultural Council for the Card to Culture program. The program helps us provide ConnectorCare members with a fuller spectrum of experiences and tools that create well-being, health, and community connectivity in our members’ lives.”
With the upcoming Patriots Day long weekend and many Massachusetts school districts set to close for April School Vacation next week, cultural organizations across the Commonwealth will offer added programming, performances, and events and several Card to Culture organizations are among them. From the Barrington Stage Company’s KidsAct! theater program in the Berkshires to a scavenger hunt and family friendly activities at the Cape Ann Museum, there are countless ways for Massachusetts families to engage in creative activities using the Card to Culture benefit.
“We highly value our partnership with the Mass Cultural Council to offer Card to Culture benefits to WIC participants,” said Department of Public Health Nutrition Division Director Rachel Colchamiro. “This initiative makes the amazing cultural resources available in Massachusetts more accessible and affordable, and maybe even leads families to try something they’ve never experienced before.”
All organizations supported by Mass Cultural Council are encouraged to participate in Card to Culture and can join the voluntary program at any time.