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Agency poised to make record-high investments into the Commonwealth's cultural sector throughout FY23
The governing body of Mass Cultural Council voted today to adopt the Agency’s Fiscal Year 2023 Spending Plan. This vote authorizes the state agency to invest a total of $85.1 million into the Commonwealth’s cultural sector through a slate of grant programs and services bolstering cultural organizations, businesses, and collaboratives; individual artists, cultural sector gig workers, culture bearers, and creatives; schools, teaching artists and youth arts education programs; and cities and towns during Fiscal Year 2023, which runs from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.
The Spending Plan is funded primarily through public funds, including $54.6 million in one-time cultural sector recovery funds received from the Commonwealth and the Agency’s $23.4 million FY23 state budget appropriation.
The Agency’s FY23 state budget appropriation represents the highest level of state investment into arts and culture since Fiscal Year 1987.
The Agency’s main priorities for FY23 are to increase investment in a cultural sector still reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; continue its commitment to Racial Equity with a strong focus on recruitment of new grant program applicants; and to engage Council Members, staff, and constituents in a comprehensive strategic planning process.
“This Spending Plan supports a sector that has shown both incredible resilience and incredible need over the past two years,” said Nina Fialkow, Chair, Mass Cultural Council. “Through this Plan we will see public dollars directed further and more broadly and equitably than ever before at a time when support is vital to the cultural sector’s recovery and growth.”
“As I reflect on the work of the cultural sector over the past two incredibly challenging years, I feel deep gratitude. I am thrilled that Mass Cultural Council has this unprecedented opportunity to expand and deepen its support at a time when creatives and cultural organizations need it the most,” said Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt. “I deeply appreciate the continued support for the cultural sector in the Legislature and our partnership with the Baker-Polito Administration. I, along with the Agency’s incredible team, stand ready to make the process of securing funding this year as accessible and inclusive as possible.”
While Mass Cultural Council develops a new strategic plan during this fiscal year, the Agency’s current Strategic Plan provides the framework for its efforts in FY23: enriching communities; growing the state’s economy; empowering a creative generation; and advancing inclusion and equity.
In FY23 Mass Cultural Council will invest $5.5 million (an increase of 15%) into the 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) that make up the nation’s largest public grassroots arts support network. 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. All LCCs will see an increase in their allotment in FY23, with the minimum allocation raised to $5,500.
The Agency’s Community Initiative will offer grants of $15,000 for state-designated Cultural Districts in Massachusetts – a major increase from $7,500 awards in FY22 that will support cultural and economic development initiatives in the 51 districts.
A new program, Festivals & Projects will distribute grants of $2,500 (an increase from $1,500 for festivals) to support cultural projects, programs, or festivals that provide community and public benefit. As its name indicates, this program combines and replaces two separate Agency programs that previously funded festivals, projects, and public programming.
Mass Cultural Council staff will continue to provide a range of services to communities, including regional gatherings for LCCs and Cultural Districts.
Growing the Economy
Mass Cultural Council will invest $6.9 million (an 14% increase) into the Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) and Gateway programs, which provide unrestricted operational support 343 nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations across Massachusetts. Minimum grant amounts for both programs will increase to $6,000. These organizations connect children and adults to theater, music, visual art, and film; teach them about history, literature, and the environment; and introduce them to innovative ideas and cultural traditions.
The Spending Plan also includes $3.5 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.
Additionally, Mass Cultural Council launched two one-time, historic COVID recovery grant opportunities in early August. More than $51 million will be awarded to support Massachusetts cultural organizations, artists, creatives, culture bearers, and gig workers with their ongoing pandemic recovery needs.
Further, Mass Cultural Council will continue to host HireCulture.org, our widely-referenced creative employment job site and our ArtSake blog, showcasing the creative, innovative work of Massachusetts artists.
Empowering a Creative Generation
The Agency’s Creative Youth Development and Education teams will continue to expand access to quality, creative learning experiences for young people in schools and community settings in FY23 through a range of grant programs and initiatives that include:
Advancing Inclusion and Equity
Since his arrival in February 2021, Executive Director Bobbitt has led Mass Cultural Council’s staff and governing board through a comprehensive racial equity training and planning process. The Agency released its first-ever Racial Equity Plan last fall and will continue its implementation in FY23.
A new round of Traditional Arts Apprenticeships will be awarded in FY23, totaling $180,000, supporting 18 recipients as they work to preserve and continue vital ethnic and cultural art forms in a range of media.
Finally, in FY23 Mass Cultural Council will double its support for the Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAACBoston), providing this innovative leadership pipeline within the cultural sector with $70,000.
Today’s adoption of the FY23 Spending Plan 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).
About Mass Cultural Council
The Mass Cultural Council is an independent state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences; fosters a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents; and contributes to the vitality of our communities and economy. The Agency pursues this mission through a wide range of grants, initiatives, and advocacy for artists, communities, organizations, and schools. To learn more about how we harness the power of culture in Massachusetts, visit MassCulturalCouncil.org.