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Letter to Governor Baker to Support FY21 Budget Recommendation

David T. Slatery, Acting Executive Director and Deputy Director

In a joint advocacy effort by the cultural sector, the Executive Directors of MASSCreative, Mass Humanities, and Mass Cultural Council delivered the following letter to Governor Baker today, in which we collectively urge him to adopt the Legislature’s level funding recommendation for the Agency in FY21. The Governor has until December 14 to act on the budget.


December 8, 2020

His Excellency Charles D. Baker
Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
State House, Room 360
Boston MA 02133

Dear Governor Baker:

We write to you today, first to thank you for your leadership during this unprecedented time. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact, we wish to share our support of the FY21 state budget passed last week by the Legislature, specifically the Mass Cultural Council line item (0640-0300) and the extended deadline for nonprofits to reimburse unemployment costs to the Department of Unemployment Assistance included in Section 81. These two items will help support the recovery of the arts and cultural sector in Massachusetts.

The arts and cultural community in Massachusetts has sustained significant economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mass Cultural Council’s most recent survey of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and individual creative workers found that since March:

  • Cultural organizations reported $484 million in lost revenue
  • Artists and Creative Workers reported $20 million in lost income
  • More than 30,000 cultural sector jobs have been impacted by layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours and/or wages
  • Estimated reopening costs for arts and cultural organizations total $116.8 million

As you know, the creative and cultural sector is a necessary component to the Commonwealth’s overall economy. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, arts and cultural nonprofits in Massachusetts supported more than 71,000 full-time jobs, generated over $2.3 billion in total economic impact, and brought in nearly $100 million in state tax revenues. Public investment in these cultural organizations is a proven and reliable generator of economic activity, most noticeably in higher need areas of the state, such as our Gateway Cities and rural communities. We know Massachusetts’ economy will not truly rebound from the economic impacts of the pandemic until our once vibrant cultural sector recovers and is thriving again.

The $18.2 million FY21 Mass Cultural Council allocation will directly support and sustain the creative community in this unprecedented moment.

Specifically, the allocation will support:

  • Grants to Individual Artists and Teaching Artists , through the Agency’s acclaimed Artist Fellowship Program, Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, STARS Residencies, and the COVID-19 Fund for Individual Relief.
  • Grants to 329 Local Cultural Council s, the nation’s largest network of grassroots community arts support led by 2,500 volunteers in every city and town and 50 state-designated Cultural Districts , which work to stimulate new arts and cultural activity and attract creative businesses.
  • Investment in the Cultural Investment Portfolio , the core operating support program for more than 400 nonprofits.
  • Grants made through Mass Humanities to more than 150 humanities organizations statewide, including the local museums, libraries and historic sites that preserve our Massachusetts traditions, sustain civic engagement, and create educational opportunities for residents of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Support for Creative Youth Development Programs , nationally recognized programs that use the power of the arts, humanities, and sciences to help young people learn, grow, and thrive.
  • Investments in the Universal Participation (UP) Initiative , which supports a growing cohort of cultural nonprofits that are breaking down barriers to participation through inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible policies and practices.
  • A robust core service agenda to support the necessary rebuilding activities, recovery strategies, and renewal of relationships between individual artists and cultural nonprofits and their audiences post COVID.

The extension for unemployment reimbursement, outlined in Section 81, will help struggling nonprofit arts and cultural organizations maintain cash flow so that they can rehire furloughed and laid off staff once it is possible to reopen.

While the estimated losses and costs of reopening the creative sector will require ongoing and increased public and private support, this annual budget allocation will support equitable access to arts, culture, and creativity for all residents in the Commonwealth.

Thank you for your consideration and work on behalf of the residents of the Commonwealth.

Brian Boyles
Executive Director
Mass Humanities

Emily Ruddock
Executive Director

David T. Slatery
Acting Executive Director
Mass Cultural Council

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