Power of Culture Blog
New operating support grant program to launch next month
Mass Cultural Council in partnership with the Department of Transitional Assistance, the Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, and the Massachusetts Health Connector, administers Card to Culture—the nation’s most comprehensive effort to expand cultural access for low-income and working families.
In the second half of 2023, more than 80 new organizations joined the Card to Culture program to further arts access, community connection, and cultural engagement. (There are now a total of 402 Card to Culture participating organizations!) Here is a closer look at some of these new organizations:
“Arts for Everyone!” is the tagline for the Attleboro Arts Museum. “One way to make this tagline come to life is through participation in the Card to Culture program. Increasing access to the arts makes our organization stronger, more vibrant, and better reflects the communities we serve,” said Mim Brooks Fawcett, Executive Director and Chief Curator.
For February school vacation week, they will offer art classes catered to children in grades 1-4 inspired by their upcoming 2024 Flower Show theme—Festivals Around the World: Gardens in Celebration—focusing on the bright colors, unique florals, and symbols of celebrations from Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, Holland’s Tulip Festival, and Brazil’s Carnival.
Holly Watson, Assistant Director at the North Shore Children’s Museum explains, “The museum is a space for all children in our community to learn and grow in a safe, enriching, and stimulating environment. Access for all is our priority. As such, all February vacation programs are free with admission, and space in these programs can be reserved with free participant tickets online.”
As the town’s largest cultural venue, the Middleborough Public Library, “sees this affiliation as an opportunity to draw attention to the high-quality, free programs that are available to all residents in our diverse and rural community,” said Paula Fay, Vice President of the Friends of the Middleborough Public Library. Throughout school vacation week, they will offer concerts and opportunities to explore STEM activities; designs of henna-based art; stories of Haitian culture; literacy activities ranging from Book Bingo to onsite and virtual book talks; and fabric techniques used in sewing, knitting, and rug hooking.
“Far from being just a repository for books, the Middleborough Public Library is a gathering place for all to connect with our community,” Fay said.
Some organizations like the Academy of Creative Arts at Trinity (ACAT) are also expanding Card to Culture via their arts education programming, making art, music, and theater available to all young people who wish to participate.
“We are based in the poorest neighborhood in Haverhill. The population we serve generally falls into one of the categories that welcome Card to Culture families, and having a tuition-free option is, in some cases, the only option for these kids,” said Linda Greenstein, ACAT Treasurer.
The North End Music & Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC) is also eager to make a meaningful impact. “This initiative presents an incredible opportunity to join our fellow arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts to create a more inclusive cultural landscape and support the arts’ vital role in our communities,” said NEMPAC Executive Director, Sherri Snow.
From Opera on Tap Boston—a collective of singers dedicated to singing ‘outside the box’—to Arpeggione Ensemble and Lyracle, who perform historically informed chamber music, Card to Culture’s new music performing groups have much to offer.
Check out the Symphony, Jazz, or Chamber series at The Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra in Metrowest or The Boston Cecilia’s spring concert celebrating the French cultural diaspora (and experience the sounds of an organization that has been making music since 1876!) In Western MA, the Berkshire Bach Society preserves the cultural legacy of Baroque music throughout the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley.
Although the Cape Rep Theatre already offered inclusive ticketing options and free educational programs, they joined Card to Culture to expand these efforts.
“Live theater should be accessible to everyone regardless of financial constraints,” said Melissa Bernstein, Artistic Director at Newton Theatre Company.
For other organizations, the rationale for joining Card to Culture was more holistic.
“We believe in fostering a space that encourages free expression, breaks down barriers to art, and creates a haven for genuine connection. This program aligns perfectly with our vision of making art an accessible and transformative experience for all,” said Magic Soul House President, Wei Fan.
“To many organizations, the benefits of participating are clear. “It’s a win-win for us and the participants holding EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare cards,” said Laura Helliwell, President of The Heritage Chorale.
The following is a sample of new groups that are diversifying the types of organizations, disciplines, and programming being represented in Card to Culture: