Power of Culture Blog
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The Massachusetts Senate has voted to support an amendment to the state budget that would boost cultural funding to $18 million for the coming fiscal year.
Backed by a statewide grassroots advocacy campaign led by MASSCreative, Senators voted overwhelmingly to back amendments to boost funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences to $18 million for FY20 and assure Mass Cultural Council’s community-based partnerships and services continue. The amendments to an earlier Senate Ways & Means Committee plan were authored by Senator Ed Kennedy of Lowell, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development.
“Arts and culture are big business in Massachusetts, supporting more than 73,000 full-time jobs, generating more than $2.2 billion in total spending and $100 million in state tax revenue,” Sen. Kennedy told his colleagues on the Senate floor. “Programs funded by the Cultural Council make Massachusetts a desirable place to live, study and work.”
If it prevails, the Senate budget would represent the highest state appropriation for arts and culture since 2002. That year state cultural funding was $19 million, or nearly $27 million in today’s dollars.
“The Senate once again demonstrated a strong commitment to arts and culture,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director. “Thanks to Senator Kennedy, to Senate President Karen Spilka, Ways & Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and Vice Chair Jason Lewis, and all their colleagues who cosponsored our amendments. They heard the voices of our artists and educators, nonprofit leaders, and local cultural council volunteers, who advocated on behalf of our community.”
The Senate plan for cultural funding is $1.5 million above that of the House of Representatives, which approved its version of the FY20 budget in April. The House also included language that would preclude Mass Cultural Council from using new funds on grants for artists or cultural districts, and effectively prohibit agency staff from providing direct services and technical assistance to organizations and communities outside Boston.
In June, the Legislature will empower a House-Senate conference committee to work out the many differences between the two chambers’ FY20 budget plans. The conference negotiation is the next key step in the annual budget process. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
“We are deeply grateful to MASSCreative, Mass Humanities, Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and the thousands of grassroots advocates across the Commonwealth who have worked to secure the resources the cultural sector needs for its great work,” said Walker. “I encourage advocates to thank their Senator for supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences in the budget debate.”
Ensuring the Senate budget plan prevails in the conference is our next challenge, so please stay tuned for the next steps in this annual campaign.