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Local Cultural Councils Invest $4M in Mass Communities, Respond to COVID-19

Lisa Simmons, Program Manager

Community members stand in front of the “Chelsea Right Now” mural painted by Demetrius Fuller.
“Chelsea Right Now” mural, a Council Program of the Chelsea Cultural Council. Demetrius Fuller is the artist who painted the mural.

The largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, the Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program enriches the cultural life of all cities and towns in Massachusetts. Mass Cultural Council awarded $4.15M in FY20 to its 329 LCCs to regrant locally. LCCs approved grants this year for nearly 7,000 community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Just as LCCs had completed their FY20 granting process and sent out approval letters, COVID-19 hit bringing with it event cancellations, shelter in place orders, and economic uncertainty.

We are grateful to our 2,400 LCC members, who on a volunteer basis, took on—and continue to face—the challenge of being responsive to the needs of their cultural communities.

Some examples of how LCCs have responded to COVID-19:

  • Communities Initiative staff have been working closely with LCCs to find ways to provide funding to approved programs and artists through grant modifications, extensions, and reimbursements for lost revenue. (A new document has been created offering guidance to LCCs around this year’s granting process.)
  • LCCs are creating workaround plans to get funds out the door to their grantees whether it is through reimbursement or direct grants on programs either cancelled or moved to a different date.
  • Many Councils are using social media to provide resources and using websites to keep the community updated on the cultural offerings in their cities/towns.
  • Some LCCs are working on ways to modify their own Council Program monies to provide direct financial support to artists in their communities.
  • Councils are looking to create an artist relief fund.
  • LCCs have even launched GoFundMe campaigns to support relief efforts and a COVID-19 Protective Mask Fund.

It has also been amazing to see how LCC Program grant recipients have pivoted quickly to continue to provide arts and culture programming in their communities virtually and inventively.

Follow our Community Initiative Facebook page to see these incredibly inspiring #MACommunityStories.

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