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Celebrating Culture, Creativity & the Start of the Budget Process

Bethann Steiner, Senior Director of Public Affairs

Governor’s FY25 Budget Invests $25.5M into Arts & Culture

group photo of elected officials and arts leaders holding signs that read "What's your power of culture?" and "Celebrate Creativity"
Last week Creative Sector Advocacy Day was celebrated on Beacon Hill. Here, Rep. Gonzalez, Mass Art President Grant, Lt. Gov. Driscoll, Sen. Mark, Emily Ruddock from MASSCreative, Gov. Healey, Rep. Worrell, Rep. Domb, Rep. Blais, Brian Boyles from Mass Humanities, Rep. Diggs, Rep Arena-DeRosa, Mass Cultural Council’s Michael Bobbitt, and Rep. Vieira celebrate the power of culture in the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House.

As the state agency charged with bolstering the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector, Mass Cultural Council’s main source of funding is provided through the annual state budget. Last week, Governor Maura Healey released her funding recommendations for the coming fiscal year, FY25, in legislation referred to as H. 2 on Wednesday, January 24.

January 24 was noteworthy on Beacon Hill not only as the H. 2 release date, but because it was Creative Sector Day at the Massachusetts State House. Jointly sponsored by MassCreative, Mass Cultural Council, Mass Humanities, Mass Art, MAPC, Massachusetts Music Educators Association, and The Network for Arts Administrators of Color/ArtsBoston, this celebration of arts, culture, and creativity brought hundreds of stakeholders to the halls of the State House to talk to their elected officials about the importance of the sector in Massachusetts.

Dozens of legislators joined the program, including the Governor and Lt. Governor, who made the surprise announcement that their administration was recommending an increase in funding for Mass Cultural Council. After the formal speaking program the halls of the State House were filled with joyful notes of music and performances all afternoon as artists from across Massachusetts shared their talents with passersby.

H. 2 funds Mass Cultural Council with $25,546,197, an increase of approximately $546,000 for Agency operations and programming. In this difficult economic climate, when state tax revenues are not meeting predicted benchmarks and policymakers are referring to FY25 as a “belt tightening year,” we believe this to be a strong place to start the budget-building cycle and appreciate the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s continued support for the sector. There are many budget accounts that saw a funding reduction in H. 2. Mass Cultural Council is grateful that the Governor has recommended an appropriation that will allow the Agency to maintain current spending levels to support its programs and operations.

H. 2 is a $56.1 billion spending plan to fund state government operations and priorities, which is about 2.9% higher than the current FY24 state budget. However, it is important to note that just after the holidays the Governor announced a $1 billion FY24 budget shortfall and corrected it with both spending reductions (referred to as 9Cs) and by identifying new non-tax revenues.

Just prior to this announcement, Mass Cultural Council had submitted a $28 million FY25 funding request to the Governor. All parties in state government are ever mindful that public spending is dependent on the state economy and tax revenues, and that the economic picture is fluid.

The Governor’s budget will now go to the House and Senate Committee on Ways and Means and be subject of a series of public hearings. Much can change between now and when the House of Representatives takes up its budget in April, or when the Massachusetts Senate holds its budget debate in May. Mass Cultural Council will continue to monitor the budget process and hold conversations with legislators and partners to ensure that in FY25 the Governor’s $25.5 million funding recommendation is considered the lowest possible appropriation for the Agency next year. It’s a solid starting point for this multi-month budget crafting exercise.

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