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New Spending Plan Will Invest $14 Million in Culture Across the Commonwealth

Greg Liakos, Communications Director

(Boston, MA) – The Mass Cultural Council released a spending plan for the new fiscal year that will invest more than $14 million in a range of grant programs, services, and initiatives to support the arts, humanities, and sciences in communities across Massachusetts.

The FY19 spending plan increases grant awards for nonprofit cultural organizations, communities, and artists. It also significantly boosts investment in creative youth development and education in schools and communities statewide.

“This plan reaffirms our mission to support culture in ways that expand economic opportunity, elevate the quality of life, embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, and empower our creative youth,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director.

Mass Cultural Council will invite grantees to celebrate these new grants alongside our partners in the state Legislature at public events across the state this fall. Stay tuned for a separate announcement with details on those events soon.

The agency’s spending plan benefits from a $16 million state appropriation, up $2 million from last year. The plan was unanimously approved August 28 by the appointed members of the Mass Cultural Council and supports:

Nonprofit Cultural Organizations: $5.9 million

The Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP) comprises more than 320 nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations across Massachusetts and will be funded at just over $5 million. These organizations connect children and adults to theatre, music, visual art, & film; teach them about history, literature, and the environment; and introduce them to new ideas and cultural traditions. CIP operating support grants must be matched one to one, and range from $3,000 to $57,000.

In addition, Mass Cultural Council will support Mass Humanities through an annual partnership grant of $605,000 to support its public programs in history, literature, and other humanities disciplines to enhance civic life across the Commonwealth. Other investments in nonprofits include grants in our UP Inclusive Design Initiative, the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), and  SMU DataArts to help nonprofits document and analyze their financial health and that of the cultural sector. See FY19 CIP funding list.

Communities: $3.8 million

Of that total $3.4 million will support 329 Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) that make up the nation’s largest public grassroots arts support network. LCCs provide funding to every community in Massachusetts through the efforts of more than 2,500 volunteers. The councils support local arts and history, fund school field trips, and sponsor community concerts and exhibitions. Grants range from $4,500 for more than 100 small towns to nearly $200,000 for Boston, according to a formula that reflects state aid to municipalities.

Additional funds will award $5,000 grants to all 45 Cultural Districts in Massachusetts, $500 grants for more than 200 local Festivals, and $10,000 grants to deepen partnerships with six Cultural Compact communities to elevate culture’s role in community development. See FY19 LCC allocations.

Creative Youth Development & Education: $2.5 million

Mass Cultural Council works to expand access to quality, creative learning experiences for young people in schools and community settings through a range of grant programs and initiatives that include:

  • YouthReach, supporting nonprofits that empower disenfranchised young people through in-depth learning and skill-building in the arts, humanities, and sciences. See FY19 YouthReach funding list.
  • SerHacer, supporting intensive, ensemble music-making as a vehicle for youth development and social change. See FY19 funding list.
  • Amplify awards grants directly to projects created and led by youth.
  • Music Educators and Teaching Artist (META) Fellowships, a partnership with the Klarman Family Foundation to build a strong community of professional practice to enhance the impact of music programs on young people.
  • STARS Residencies that connect artists and creative educators in the humanities and sciences with elementary and secondary schools with learning experiences that help students grow, develop new skills, and expand their imaginations.
  • Big Yellow School Bus grants help schools meet transportation costs for educational field trips to cultural venues across Mass.
  • Mass History Day to help the Massachusetts Historical Society expand participation in this competition that builds knowledge of our past and vital civic skills for students in high schools across the Commonwealth.
  • Poetry Out Loud, a national competition in which high school students perform classic and contemporary poems while exploring elements of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre in their English and drama classes. The Huntington Theatre Co. has expanded Poetry Out Loud to more than 50,000 students each school year with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Artists: $613,000

For more than four decades Mass Cultural Council has supported working artists through direct grants and services. This year we will increase awards for Artist Fellowships to $15,000 in Crafts, Dramatic Writing, Sculpture/Installation/New Genres, Film & Video, Music Composition, and Photography. We will also award a new round of Traditional Arts Apprenticeships to preserve and continue vital ethnic and cultural art forms in a range of media. See FY19 Traditional Arts Apprenticeships funding list.

Services for Communities, Artists, & Cultural Nonprofits: $1.3 million

Mass Cultural Council will continue to fund a range of services to the nonprofit cultural sector, including, a free, creative employment job site; SpaceFinder Mass, a discovery tool for creative spaces to rent in Massachusetts, the popular ArtSake blog, and Gallery; research and public programs in the Folk & Traditional Arts; the Creative Minds Out Loud podcast; training and technical assistance for nonprofits and local cultural councils; and marketing and promotion for nonprofits via partnerships with public media. We will also be investing in modernizing our online application and grants management systems.

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