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Home / Blog / Communities / Powering Up Mass Municipal with Arts and Culture

Powering Up Mass Municipal with Arts and Culture

Ricardo Guillaume, Program Officer

Ricardo Guillaume and Luis Cotto of the Mass Cultural Council talk with an attendee at the 41st Mass Municipal Association Annual Meeting & Trade Show in Boston, MA.

On January 24-25, the 41st Mass Municipal Association (MMA) Annual Meeting & Trade Show hit the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Boston Hotel like a hot bill on the Governor’s desk. Mass Cultural Council’s Communities Team moved into booth #521 near Government Row to share the power of culture and news of CultureRx with our neighbors: fellow state employees, elected officials, and policy-makers. And guess what? People were happy to see us.

MMA describes it’s annual meeting as “the largest regular gathering of Massachusetts local government officials” where, over two days, those in public service who are passionate about good governance convene to share strategies on how to improve government, network, and have a little fun. It’s like Comic-Con for policy wonks. We made friends.

Drew Russo is now the Personnel Director for the City of Lynn after being the Executive Director of the Lynn Museum for four years. Russo stopped by our booth to say hey and talk up just how much the Lynn Cultural District has meant to his community.

“Arts and culture are a hallmark of my life and has informed my experiences,” Russo said. “The arts are a way to bring people together. [Because of the Lynn Cultural District] people are starting to discover how fantastic our cultural community is.”

MMA Annual Conference Banner
MMA provides an opportunity for those in public service to network and strategize on improving government.

Diane Kennedy also said hello and shared her experiences working with the Mass Cultural Council. Kennedy is on the Town of Cohasset Board of Selectmen and started her community service by being a member of the Cohasset Cultural Council and working at the South Shore Art Center before making her current stop at Revels, a community investment organization.

“I believe that culture and the arts share our humanity with the world, and it’s been my privilege to work and partner with Mass Cultural Council on many occasions,” Kennedy said.

John “Terry” Gallagher represents Eastham on the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates. Gallagher echoed Russo and Kennedy’s sentiments on the importance of Mass Cultural Council’s role in supporting arts and culture and gushed about the work of his wife Elaine Lipton, who is the Executive Director of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. The festival produces 12 concerts annually with premiere musicians in America.

Attendees walking through the aisles at MMA conference.
Attendees walking through the aisles at MMA conference.

“Funding from the Mass Cultural Council and Local Cultural Council is extremely important to the continuation of the festival and it shows the involvement between the musical community and the local communities on Cape Cod,” Gallagher said. “It is extremely important that we bring this quality of music and performance to audiences throughout the Commonwealth to show that Massachusetts really is one of the most important platforms for culture in the United States. And it’s not just confined to the City of Boston, it’s from Tanglewood all the way to Cape Cod.”

The communities across Commonwealth — including Blandford, Palmer, Malden, Newton,  Somerville Stoneham, Wayland, Woburn, Haverhill, and Franklin — were well-represented on the white sheet we had for MMA attendees to share where they were from and the cultural assets in their towns.

Speakers at this year’s trade show included Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, legendary sportswriter Jackie MacMullan, Emmy award-winning media savant Faith Salie, and the first director of the National League of Cities’ Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) initiative Leon Andrews Jr.

We had a blast at #MassMuni20 and look forward to coming back next year!

Mass Cultural Council staff asked attendees of MMA conference to list the cultural assets in their towns.
Mass Cultural Council staff asked attendees of MMA conference to list the cultural assets in their towns.


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