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Home / Blog / Organizations / Over $13M Awarded to 115 Cultural Facilities Projects Statewide

Over $13M Awarded to 115 Cultural Facilities Projects Statewide

Bethann Steiner, Public Affairs Director

Cultural Facilities Fund supports capital and planning projects for cultural institutions

A spotlight hits a singer in a red floral dress performing on stage with 5 seated musicians. In the background a seated, masked crowd sits watching.
A performance at the Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity.

Today MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council announced a total of over $13 million in awards to 115 recipients through the FY22 Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) grant round. The CFF, which is jointly administered by the two agencies, was established to support investments in cultural facilities and projects throughout the Commonwealth with capital and planning grants for nonprofit organizations, colleges, and municipalities that own or operate facilities primarily focused on the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences.

“Today’s investments will support our partners in the cultural sector as they build and maintain facilities such as museums, theaters, historic buildings, and more,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “These kinds of attractions foster community, build our creative economy, and bring vibrancy and visitors to Massachusetts. MassDevelopment is proud to co-administer the Cultural Facilities Fund together with the Mass Cultural Council, and we’re grateful for the continued support of the Baker-Polito Administration and Legislature that allows us to invest in our cultural institutions as a critical piece of our state’s economy.”

There are three types of grants available through the CFF:

  1. Capital Grants, which support the acquisition, design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation, or other capital improvements or deferred maintenance of a cultural facility.
  2. Feasibility & Technical Assistance Grants, for costs and expenses related to overall planning and feasibility analyses for a proposed eligible project.
  3. Systems Replacement Grants (SRP), a specific type of Feasibility and Technical Assistance Grant specifically designed for organizations without full-time maintenance staff. The SRP is a 20-year capital needs assessment of the building and its mechanical systems.

In FY22, the Cultural Facilities Fund is awarding 94 Capital Grants totaling $12,758,000, 12 Feasibility & Technical Assistance Grants totaling $322,500, and 9 Systems Replacement Grants totaling $71,000.

A complete funding list with project descriptions for FY22 CFF grant recipients is available online. Examples of newly funded capital projects include:

Azorean Maritime Heritage Society, New Bedford – $200,000

  • To construct a maritime cultural facility with a boat workshop, classroom, meeting space and headquarters for the organization.
  • The Azorean Maritime Heritage Society maintains the three remaining authentic Azorean whaleboats in the U.S. for cultural programs that engage diverse age groups of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. The Society promotes Portuguese culture and Azorean whaling heritage by raising awareness and pride within New England’s Portuguese-American community and recognizing the rich maritime heritage shared between New Bedford and the Azores.

Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity, Florence – $162,000

  • To acquire and renovate the 150-year-old Florence Congregational Church to provide diverse performing arts offerings for dance, theater productions, poetry slams, band rehearsals, classes, and meetings.
  • Bombyx was established to steward this historic gathering place founded by abolitionists who championed anti-slavery, gender equity, and religious tolerance. Carrying these values forward, they serve their community as a venue for transformative arts experiences, spiritual growth, and challenging conversations.

Cultural Alliance of Medfield – $200,000

  • For design and construction documents to repurpose a former chapel on the historic Medfield State Hospital campus.
  • After many years of planning and preparation, the Cultural Alliance of Medfield has secured a 99-year lease on two of the 35 buildings at the historic former Medfield State Hospital to create a 24,000-square-foot arts and education center. The chapel at the heart of the campus will become a flexible 300-seat performance venue and will connect to the former Infirmary that will now house 17 classrooms for music lessons, rehearsal space, and three visual arts classrooms.

Immigrant City Archives, Lawrence – $105,000

  • For HVAC work in the main office and archival storage building.
  • Immigrant City Archives works to create a sense of place and identity for residents who represent new immigrant populations in low-income neighborhoods. Using their archival collections and facilities, they support research and scholarship at all levels to educate residents about their own unique history and work to move them forward, emphasizing the positive and the possibilities for current generations.

While the CFF is primarily funded each year through the Governor’s Capital Spending Plan, in FY22 Mass Cultural Council increased the amount of grant assistance available by transferring $5,180,000 from cultural sector pandemic recovery funds to the program*. This transfer was made possible due to legislative language contained in Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs.

By supplementing available CFF grant funds with cultural sector pandemic monies, MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council were able to fund nearly all eligible applications in this FY22 grant round.

“Over the past year and a half, I have met with leaders of arts organizations in every region of the Commonwealth, and no matter where they are located, I have learned that our cultural facilities are in great need of capital investment and repair,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “I am thrilled to celebrate today’s CFF recipients and am incredibly grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration and the state Legislature for their steadfast support of this vital program. We would not have been able to invest in this many eligible recipients today if it were not for funding received from our partners in the State House.”

Of the 115 FY22 CFF grantees, 21 (18%) are first-time CFF grant recipients, while 10 (9%) are first-time Capital Grant recipients. Supporting these 31 organizations helped Mass Cultural Council advance its goal of promoting inclusion and equity in grantmaking and programmatic opportunities, as outlined in the Agency’s Racial Equity Plan.

About the CFF

The CFF was created by an act of the Legislature in 2006 to achieve the following goals:

  • Enhance Massachusetts’ creative economy through financing for acquisition, construction, expansion, renovation, and repair of cultural facilities.
  • Increase employment, entrepreneurialism, and tourism in the regions where these facilities are located, especially drawing new visitors from outside the Commonwealth.
  • Stimulate further investment in the arts, heritage, and sciences by preserving cultural resources.

Since 2007 the CFF has awarded $152,713,146 to 1,289 projects across the Commonwealth, employing more than 33,410 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers. The nonprofit organizations engaged in this work since the inception of the program project adding 2,809 new permanent jobs after completing their projects.

The CFF’s impact extends beyond the nonprofit cultural sector in ways that benefit Massachusetts’ broader economy. The organizations awarded grants generate millions in annual economic activity through direct spending on everything from supplies to energy and advertising. They are popular tourist destinations: prior to the COVID-19 pandemic more than six million people visited these sites, one-third from out of state. The CFF has also spurred private investment, leveraging about $2.5 billion in spending from the funded projects. Finally, CFF grants contribute to cultural preservation by helping to restore and expand many of our nation’s most treasured historical landmarks.

On May 5, the Baker-Polito Administration released its FY23 Capital Spending Plan, which includes $10 million for a CFF grant round in the coming fiscal year. It is anticipated that the FY23 CFF grant round will launch this fall.

 

*The total amount of cultural sector pandemic recovery funds Mass Cultural Council transferred to the Cultural Facilities Fund is $5,568,500. Of this amount, $5,180,000 was used to support FY22 CFF grant awards, the remainder covered allowable administrative expenses associated with running the program. 

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