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Home / Blog / Advocacy / House ARPA Bill Invests $125M into Cultural Assets for Pandemic Relief

House ARPA Bill Invests $125M into Cultural Assets for Pandemic Relief

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

Contact Your State Rep. Now. Urge Them to Co-Sponsor Amendment #109!

Since the pandemic first hit Massachusetts in March 2020, Mass Cultural Council has collected impact data from artists and cultural organizations and reported it to state policymakers. Our intent was to build a strong case for robust public investment to alleviate the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19 on the cultural sector. We are confident that your feedback, stories, data, and overall need have been heard, and our partners on Beacon Hill are poised to provide assistance and emergency relief.

Yesterday the House Committee on Ways & Means released H. 4219, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs. This much-anticipated relief bill is funded with the Commonwealth’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funds and FY21 state budget surplus revenues. H. 4219 is a $3.65 billion spending package investing in Massachusetts’ workers, industries, and communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most importantly:

H. 4219 invests $125 million into the cultural sector, through Mass Cultural Council, and directs the Agency to develop new grant programs to assist artists and nonprofit, municipal, and for-profit cultural organizations to operate more efficiently and aid in recovery from the pandemic.

House Members have until 3pm today to file amendments, and the full Chamber is scheduled to convene in a formal session this Thursday, October 28 to consider the amendments and debate the bill.

Mass Cultural Council and its advocacy partners, MASSCreative and Mass Humanities, worked with Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Committee Vice Chair Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth) on an amendment to increase the $125M appropriation to $175M.

Advocacy Alert

  • All cultural sector stakeholders are encouraged to email their State Representative TODAY. Ask them to support and co-sponsor amendment #109 to invest $175M into the cultural sector.

 

For the cultural sector to be built into the House Committee’s ARPA proposal and identified as a key economic sector deserving of relief is an amazing victory, and Mass Cultural Council is truly thankful for this recognition and investment.

We recognize with immense gratitude the leadership and support of House Speaker Ron Mariano, House Ways & Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Committee Chair Carole Fiola and Vice Chair Dylan Fernandes, House Committee on Federal Stimulus & Census Oversight Chair Dan Hunt, and all the House Members who indicated to House Leadership that cultural sector relief was a priority to be immediately addressed. Thank you!

However, we have continually urged policymakers to use both S. 2246, An Act to rebuild the Commonwealth’s Cultural Future and findings from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission as a roadmap for how to best employ ARPA funds into the sector. S. 2246 suggests a minimum of $200M in relief, while the Commission report calls for $575M. Amendment #109 is an attempt to increase this one-time appropriation to align with these recommendations more closely.

Next Steps

Once the House completes its debate, the bill will advance to the state Senate, who will then release their own relief bill for debate. Any differences between the House and Senate bills will need to be negotiated by a Conference Committee. Once enacted the final bill will be forwarded to the Governor for final approval. The Joint Rules call for the final day of formal session this fall to be November 17, so this process will proceed quickly.

Call to Action

Today, please contact your State Representative and urge them to support and co-sponsor Amendment #109:

Amendment #109 to H. 4219
Massachusetts Cultural Council funding
Mr. Fernandes of Falmouth moves to amend the bill in section 2, in item 1599-2026, by striking out the figures “$125,000,000” and inserting in place thereof the figures “$175,000,000”.

Contact Your State Representative Using MASSCreative’s Advocacy Toolkit


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