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Home / Blog / Advocacy / New Spending Plan Will Invest $16.5 Million in Culture Across the Commonwealth

New Spending Plan Will Invest $16.5 Million in Culture Across the Commonwealth

Carmen Plazas, Communications Manager

Outdoor performance at the Ecotarium
Outdoor performance at the Ecotarium

The Mass Cultural Council released a spending plan for the new fiscal year that will invest more than $16.5 million in a range of grant programs, services, and initiatives to support the arts, humanities, and sciences in communities across Massachusetts.

The FY20 spending plan significantly increases grant awards for nonprofit cultural organizations, communities, and artists. It also boosts investment in creative youth development and education in schools and communities statewide and advances the Council’s efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“This plan reaffirms our belief that culture is a dynamic force for enriching communities, growing the economy, increasing accessibility, and fostering individual creativity,” said Anita Walker, Mass Cultural Council Executive Director.

The agency’s spending plan benefits from a $18 million state appropriation, up $2 million from last year. The plan was unanimously approved August 27 by the appointed members of the Mass Cultural Council.

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

Spending plan highlights include:

Nonprofit Cultural Organizations: $7.1 Million

Mass Cultural Council will invest $6 million in its Cultural Investment Portfolio (CIP), which comprises more than 400 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. CIP Portfolio and Gateway grants must be matched one-to-one and range from $4,500 to $60,000. The Council will continue to diversify the CIP by funding 35 new and emerging nonprofits.

In addition, Mass Cultural Council will deepen its support Mass Humanities through an annual partnership grant of $679,000 for public programs in history, literature, and other humanities disciplines to enhance civic life across the Commonwealth. Other investments in nonprofits include grants in our Universal Participation (UP) 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.

Communities: $4.5 Million

Of this total, $4.1 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 $4,800 for more than 100 small towns to $236,400 for Boston, according to a formula that reflects state aid to municipalities. Additional funds will award $5,000 grants to all Cultural Districts in Massachusetts, $500 grants for more than 200 local Festivals, and $5,000 grants to deepen partnerships with six Cultural Compact communities to elevate culture’s role in community development.

Creative Youth Development & Education: $3 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, SerHacer, META Fellowships, & Amplify support 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 connect 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. 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 student participation in this competition that builds knowledge of our past and vital civic skills for students in high schools across the Commonwealth. And 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 theater 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.

Direct Support for Artists: $650,000

For more than four decades, Mass Cultural Council has supported working artists through direct grants and services. This year, we will increase the number of Artist Fellowships awards to up to 40 $15,000 awards, and will increase the Finalist award amount from $1,000 to $1,500 in the following categories: Drawing & Printmaking, Poetry, Traditional Arts, Choreography, Fiction/Creative Nonfiction, and Painting.

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 consultation, training, convening, and technical assistance that assure that every tax dollar invested in the cultural landscape of Massachusetts delivers meaningful impact for our residents. This includes a new Capacity Accelerator Network for 36 organizations facing significant financial challenges, helping them create a plan towards sustainability and effectiveness.

The spending plan includes increased funding for the Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAAC Boston) and the statewide ArtWeek festival, the launch of two pilot programs: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Museum Program and a Festivals Audience LAB, as well as the creation of a health initiative. The Council also offers HireCulture, our free, creative employment job site; SpaceFinder Mass, a discovery tool for creative spaces available for rent in Massachusetts; our ArtSake blog, showcasing the creative, innovative work of Massachusetts artists; and our Creative Minds Out Loud podcast.

About the Mass Cultural Council
The Mass Cultural Council is a state agency supporting the arts, sciences, and humanities, to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. It pursues its mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. The agency’s total budget for this fiscal year is $20 million, which includes a state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. Mass Cultural Council also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.


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