As Spring slowly inches across the Commonwealth, we’re reminded of all that the season evokes; hope, natural changes, and new growth. But for municipalities throughout Massachusetts the annual sentiment is more reminiscent to Leo Tolstoy’s words in Anna Karenina, “Spring is the time of plans and projects.” Nothing symbolizes this more than the creation, proposal, and adoption of a municipality’s annual budget.
With fiscal years starting on July 1, towns and cities embark on this annual exercise through deliberations between the Mayor and the City or via the Town Meeting. It is key for Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) to advocate for a local match in addition to their state allocation from Mass Cultural Council. Advocating for a local match is no one-size-fits-all. Let’s take a closer look at two strategies LCCs have implemented to earn a local match.
Recently, the Chicopee Cultural Council received an allocation of $10,000 from Mayor Richard Kos: an achievement made possible due to the LCC’s commitment to
Learning about the needs of people and organizations in Chicopee
Attending gatherings where members had the opportunity to connect with people face-to-face
Before meeting with the Mayor, the LCC met to determine ways they could align with City goals, and developed a budget to support their $10,000 request. This amount was requested to assist the LCC with applying for additional funding opportunities, such as Mass Cultural Council’s Projects grants.
Meetings were also scheduled with entities connected to City Hall including the Department of Planning, the Transformative Development Initiative at MassDevelopment, Chamber of Commerce, School Board, and City Councilors. Next, the LCC scheduled a series of 30-minute meetings leading up to a 2-hour presentation to City Council, and a 1-hour presentation for the Mayor.
Otis Cultural Council offers another example of how to secure a municipal match. Their mission is to promote cultural access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences for Otis residents of all ages, and to promote communication and community-building. Over the years, this LCC has developed a strong relationship with the Town of Otis (which has matched their Mass Cultural Council allocation since 2002!) With the determination and interest of supporting additional programs, the Council first approached the Otis Selectboard. They were instructed to present a proposal to the finance board for the next round of the budget season. This led to their ask of a match being approved at a Town meeting and included in the town budget.
Otis’ finance committee continues to support the LCC by making them a line item in the town budget. At the end of each fiscal year, the LCC provides the town information pertaining to funded programs and their impact on the community. Because of the long-standing funding from the Town, Otis Cultural Council continues to support programs that have existed for nearly a decade in their community – including annual Arts Festivals, square dances for the public, Community Tag Sales, and the Sup & Swing – a picnic and free concert.
Conversations with your municipality can be both formal and informal. What’s important is reaching out to share the impact of your LCC over time, complete with a vision for where you want to go in the future. Local Cultural Councils who are actively seeking opportunities to engage with their municipality through civic participation will find new and exciting ways to benefit their community.
Through our Community Initiative, Mass Cultural Council works to support all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. Over the last two years, our Cultural Compact pilot program supported a new and innovative approach to elevating arts and culture in communities.
Each spring, we encourage Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) to gather community input to better inform council priorities for each granting season. Input can be gathered from in-person conversations, public convenings, and/or through surveys. Collecting viewpoints from members of the community can help LCC members better understand the community’s needs, interests, and knowledge of local resources.
From Artist News to Creative Youth, Community Initiative, and Power of Culture, our email lists are a great way to keep up with the work of Mass Cultural Council and its partners across the Commonwealth.