Power of Culture Blog
Reflections of a state folklorist
Agency poised to award $38M in grants to the creative and cultural sector in FY24
The governing body of Mass Cultural Council voted today to adopt the Agency’s Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Spending Plan, authorizing the investment of $44 million into the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector through a slate of grant programs and services. Through this plan the Agency expects to award 2,600 grants across all programs this year, totaling approximately $38.16 million.
“Our spending plan drives Mass Cultural Council to make strategic and equitable investments statewide across the creative and cultural sector, while raising the public’s awareness of the important work and impacts creative individuals and businesses have in all our communities,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council.
As the Commonwealth’s independent state arts agency, Mass Cultural Council is charged with bolstering the creative and cultural sector, thereby advancing economic vitality, supporting transformational change, and celebrating, preserving, and inspiring creativity across all Massachusetts communities. The FY24 spending plan is a roadmap by which Mass Cultural Council will offer financial and programmatic support to its various stakeholders, including cultural organizations, businesses, and collaboratives; individual artists, creatives, and culture bearers; schools, teaching artists, and youth and education programs; and cities and towns.
The spending plan is funded primarily through public funds, including the Agency’s $25,895,000 FY24 state budget appropriation. This figure represents the second highest state budget allocation ever for Mass Cultural Council, with only the FY88 budget coming in higher at $27.4 million.
A large portion of unspent state pandemic recovery funds carried over from previous years account for $11.17 million of this spending plan. Most of these dollars were awarded through the Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Organizations and Individuals programs, Mass Cultural Council is still working with some recipients to finalize those award contracts. However, the Agency estimates $1 million of uncommitted pandemic recovery funds will be used to support new grant-making to additional applicants of the Individuals grant round who have not yet received support from the program.
In alignment with the newly adopted FY24-26 Strategic Plan, Mass Cultural Council’s main priorities for FY24 are to:
“Today, we put our new strategic plan into action, allowing us to further enable a world in which the Massachusetts creative and cultural sector is celebrated for its diversity and valued as essential,” said Marc Carroll, Acting Chair, Mass Cultural Council. “This plan elevates, nurtures, and celebrates our sector as a necessary component of the fabric of the Commonwealth.”
Mass Cultural Council this year will launch a new, redesigned funding program for artists and creative individuals. The Individual Grants program (name TBD) aims to equitably advance creative expression throughout the Commonwealth with unrestricted grants. The spending plan budgets $1,875,000 to award up to 375 grants of $5,000 as part of this program.
Additionally, this spending plan provides $180,000 to provide continued funding for the 18 recipients of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeships first approved in FY23. This is the second year of a two-year grant cycle.
Mass Cultural Council will continue to host HireCulture.org, our widely-referenced creative employment job site as well as the ArtSake blog, showcasing the creative, innovative work of Massachusetts artists.
In FY24, Mass Cultural Council will invest $5.5 million into the Commonwealth’s Local Cultural Council (LCCs) Program, which make up the nation’s largest public grassroots arts support network. 329 LCCs provide annual arts and cultural grant funding to every community in Massachusetts through the efforts of more than 2,400 volunteers. They support local arts and history and sponsor community concerts and exhibitions.
The Agency’s Community Initiative will again offer grants of $15,000 to the 55 state-designated Cultural Districts across Massachusetts to encourage the development and success of the districts, support programming and marketing initiatives, and foster local cultural preservation. Staff anticipates two additional cultural districts may be brought to the governing Council for designation this year. If successful, those new districts would be eligible for this funding, bringing the total program budget to $855,000.
Mass Cultural Council will invest $7.1 million into the Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) and Gateway programs, providing unrestricted operational support to 338 nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations across Massachusetts.
The spending plan also includes $3.7 million to provide Gaming Mitigation assistance to certain performing arts centers who host touring acts, as directed by state law. Throughout the year, the CIP team will continue to provide a range of supportive services to nonprofit cultural organizations including consultation, training, convenings, and technical assistance.
Creative Youth Development & Arts Education
The Agency’s Creative Youth Development and Education teams will continue to support quality, creative learning experiences in schools and community settings. This includes:
Equity, Inclusion, and Access
The Festivals & Projects program in FY24 will award 740 grants of $2,500 to support organizations that offer cultural projects, programs, or festivals that provide community and/or public benefit.
The Universal Participation (UP) Initiative’s Innovation Fund will receive an allocation of $480,000 for FY24. This funding is available to organizations that have previously obtained from the Agency an UP Designation and is used to plan and implement accessibility systems, breaking down the barriers that prevent full civic participation in Massachusetts’ cultural sector.
Further, Mass Cultural Council is pleased to continue to provide support for the practice of Social Prescription in the Commonwealth. Launched as a pilot program in January 2020 as the first social prescription initiative focused on the arts and culture in the United States, the program has proven to be successful, and this year is transitioning into its next phase. This year, Mass Cultural Council will award a $175,000 grant to Art Pharmacy to move this work forward. In doing so, we will be able to effectively partner with other state agencies, health providers, and cultural organizations to enhance the scaling of this initiative, while positively impacting providers, patients, and communities.
The Agency also looks forward to providing funding for four additional grants that promote equity, inclusion, and access in FY24:
Today’s adoption of the FY24 Spending Plan by the governing Council allows Agency staff to begin to launch grant application periods. Those wishing to stay up to date with Mass Cultural Council grant opportunities, events, and services are encouraged to visit MassCulturalCouncil.org and sign up for the monthly Power of Culture e-newsletter or follow the Agency on social media (@masscultural).
Fiscal Year 2024 spans from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024.