The Mass Cultural Council is happy to report that in early 2020 a new grant program, the Gaming Mitigation Program, will go live, due to recent legislative action.
First envisioned eight years ago in 2011, when the state Legislature approved casino gaming in Massachusetts, it was determined that 2% of the revenue would be directed to the Mass Cultural Council to support not-for-profit and municipally owned venues who would find themselves operating in a disrupted marketplace, in direct competition with casino venues.
Since Plainridge Park Casino opened to the public in 2015, followed by MGM Springfield in 2017 and Encore Boston Harbor earlier this year, almost $3 million in revenue has been collected for this purpose by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. However, the Mass Cultural Council could not access these funds without an additional step: legislative authorization to create the Massachusetts Cultural and Performing Arts Mitigation Trust Fund.
For months the agency has been working with our legislative partners, the Administration, and arts and culture stakeholders to develop this language and secure its approval on Beacon Hill. Last week the Legislature included the language in its FY19 final deficiency budget bill, H. 4246. And on December 13, Governor Baker signed the bill – and our language – into law!
What does this mean? We expect to open the application process for the Gaming Mitigation Grant Program in the first quarter of the New Year. The Program aims to mitigate a direct threat to the sustainability of non-profit performing arts centers in Massachusetts by providing capital to preserve their ability to compete in a new, unbalanced marketplace. This is important because performing arts centers:
Are economic engines for communities
Ensure access to the arts across the Commonwealth
Are centers of community gathering and place making
Provide young people with creative learning opportunities
Today Mass Cultural Council and Massachusetts Health Connector joined state and local leaders, cultural organizations, and public health officials in Amherst to celebrate an innovative new partnership and launch ConnectorCare Card to Culture.
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