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Mass Cultural Council to Invest Nearly $29M into Cultural Sector

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director, and Carmen Plazas, Communications Manager

FY22 Spending Plan Adopted by Governing Council

A band leader encourages a group of concert goers to dance with him in the street at a summer performance.
Chelsea’s Music on the Square Afro-Cuban Jazz Concert by Lookie Lookie Band.

The governing body of the Mass Cultural Council has voted to adopt the Agency’s Fiscal Year 2022 Spending Plan, providing the state agency authorization to invest a total of $28,960,206 into the Commonwealth’s cultural sector through a slate of grant programs and professional services to bolster cultural nonprofit organizations, individual artists, schools, and communities.

Mass Cultural Council will seek to award $24 million in grant funding while investing $4.9 million into service delivery and administrative expenses this fiscal year. Fiscal Year 2022 runs from July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022.

To achieve this goal Mass Cultural Council’s FY22 Spending Plan focuses on initiatives that will enrich Massachusetts communities; grow the state economy; empower a creative generation; and advance inclusion and equity – all pillars of the Agency’s Strategic Plan.

“This Spending Plan, the first developed under the vision and leadership of our new Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt, funds initiatives that will enhance, support, and promote the cultural sector in every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Nina Fialkow, Chair, Mass Cultural Council. “This Plan directs public dollars where they are needed most in the cultural sector: to artists and cultural organizations who continue to rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Michael J. Bobbitt joined Mass Cultural Council six months ago, in February, as the Agency’s Executive Director.

“The FY22 Spending Plan significantly increases grant awards for nonprofit cultural organizations, communities, and artists,” said Bobbitt. “Mass Cultural Council will also boost investment into creative youth development programs and arts education for grades K-12 in schools and communities statewide, and make great strides in our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals to ensure the Agency is reaching all stakeholders across Massachusetts.”

An independent state agency, Mass Cultural Council is funded primarily through the annual state operating budget. The Agency also receives funding support from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), as well as 2% of state gaming revenues collected, and other sources.

In FY22, the Agency’s funding request to the Legislature was $20 million. In July the state House of Representatives and Senate approved a state budget which funded arts and culture at $21,375,000, through Mass Cultural Council. Governor Baker approved this appropriation and signed it into law.

“Mass Cultural Council is deeply appreciative of the strong support for the cultural sector in the Legislature and the partnership we enjoy with the Baker-Polito Administration, as evidenced by this record level of investment,” said Marc Carroll, Vice Chair, Mass Cultural Council.

The Agency’s $21.4 million appropriation in the FY22 state budget represents the highest level of state investment into arts and culture since the 1980s.

In addition to $21.4 million in state budget funding, Mass Cultural Council’s FY22 Spending Plan is supported with $5,155,675 from casino tax revenues made available to the Council through the Massachusetts Cultural and Performing Arts Mitigation Trust Fund, $1,852,246 from the NEA, and $577,285 from other sources.

FY22 Spending Plan Highlights

Enriching Communities

In FY22 Mass Cultural Council will invest $4.8 million into the 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) that make up the nation’s largest public grassroots arts support network (a $435,000 increase from FY21). LCCs provide 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. LCC state allocations range from $5,000-$266,500, based on a formula that reflects state aid to municipalities.

Additionally, the Agency’s Community Initiative will offer grants of $7,500 for state designated Cultural Districts in Massachusetts, and $1,500 grants to support local Festivals (a major increase from $500 awards in FY21). Mass Cultural Council will continue to fund a range of services to our communities, including regional gatherings for LCCs and Cultural Districts, and marketing and audience development workshops for festival organizers.

Growing the Economy

Mass Cultural Council will invest $6.3 million into the Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) and Gateway programs, which provide operational support 345 nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations across Massachusetts. 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 new ideas and cultural traditions.

The Spending Plan also includes $3 million to provide Gaming Mitigation assistance to certain performing arts centers, while the CIP team will continue to provide a range of supportive services to nonprofit cultural organizations, including consultation, training, convenings, and technical assistance.

For more than four decades, Mass Cultural Council has supported working artists through direct grants and services. This year, the Agency will double the number of artists approved to receive funds through Artist Fellowships (from 75 in FY21 to approx. 150) and increase finalist awards from $1,500 to $5,000. Further, the Artists Department will continue to offer professional development and capacity building workshops to Massachusetts artists.

Additionally, in FY22 Mass Cultural Council will continue to host, our free, 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 strive to expand access to quality, creative learning experiences for young people in schools and community settings in FY22 through a range of grant programs and initiatives that include:

  • YouthReach– supporting innovative creative youth development programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences that aim to make a better world by unleashing the potential of young people as creators, leaders, and change agents.
  • STARS Residencies– connecting artists and creative educators in the humanities and sciences with schools in learning experiences that help students grow, develop new skills, and expand their imaginations.
  • Mass History Day– helping Massachusetts Historical Society expand student participation in this national competition that builds knowledge of our past and vital civic skills for students in high schools across the Commonwealth.
  • Poetry Out Loud– supporting this national competition in which high school students perform classic and contemporary poems while exploring elements of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater in their English and drama classes in-person and virtually.

Advancing Inclusion and Equity

Since his arrival Executive Director Bobbitt has led Mass Cultural Council’s staff and governing board through a comprehensive racial equity training and planning process, which will lead to the release of the Agency’s first-ever Racial Equity Plan this fall.

Additionally, in FY22 the Agency will invest in diversity, equity, inclusion, and access through the Universal Participation (UP) Initiative and the continuation of the Innovation and Learning Network, a series of professional development workshops on Universal Design practices.

A new round of Traditional Arts Apprenticeships, totaling $100,000, to preserve and continue vital ethnic and cultural art forms in a range of media will also be offered, and Mass Cultural Council will continue to support the Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAACBoston) as well as the development of a new cultural equity learning program to benefit the leadership and staff of cultural organizations statewide.

All cultural sector stakeholders are encouraged to sign up to receive the Agency’s monthly Power of Culture e-Newsletter and follow Mass Cultural Council on social media (@masscultural) to stay up-to-date about grant programs, services, key dates, and convenings offered throughout FY22.

See a Presentation on the FY22 Spending Plan

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