Power of Culture Blog
Senator Ed Kennedy has filed Amendment #135 to increase Mass Cultural Council’s account to $27.4M
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Update 11/12/21: The Massachusetts Senate completed its debate on S. 2564 on November 10, 2021, passing a $3.82 billion spending plan to invest federal ARPA and FY21 surplus state revenues into key economic sectors. Mass Cultural Council receives $75 million in the final Senate bill, to administer new grant programs that deliver capacity building and pandemic relief to the cultural sector. We are grateful that during the debate the Senate adopted a corrective amendment that clarifies that these funds would be available to artists and cultural organizations.
The formal session ends on November 17, 2021. The House and Senate must now either appoint a formal conference committee or negotiate informally to develop a final ARPA relief bill for the Chambers to adopt and send to the Governor. Mass Cultural Council will develop written testimony for the House and Senate urging them to retain the final House language and appropriation of $125M for the cultural sector in the final ARPA bill.
Cultural sector stakeholders can email the Speaker of the House, Senate President, Chairs of House and Senate Ways & Means, and their personal state Senator and state Representative urging them to retain the House’s recommendation for the cultural sector in the final ARPA bill.
The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways & Means has released S. 2564, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs, a $3.67 billion spending plan investing federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and FY21 state revenue surplus funds into key economic sectors. The Committee’s plan provides $75 million to be granted by Mass Cultural Council to provide pandemic relief to the Commonwealth’s cultural and tourism assets.
While Mass Cultural Council is immensely grateful to the Senate for both recognizing the crucial role the cultural sector plays in the overall state economy and including cultural organizations in the Committee bill, we note with extreme caution that this level of investment falls $50M short of the final House ARPA bill, which provides $125 million for grants to the cultural sector to promote capacity building and pandemic relief. Further, as currently drafted, Mass Cultural Council would not be able to make grants to individual artists from this fund.
Fortunately, State Senator Ed Kennedy (D- Lowell), Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development, has filed Amendment #49 to both add individual artists to the list of eligible recipients for this assistance and increase the appropriation to $200 million.
Chair Kennedy is a stalwart champion of the cultural sector in the Senate, and this year is the lead sponsor of S. 2246, An Act rebuilding the Commonwealth’s cultural future. This legislation, which enjoys the support of 60 co-sponsors (including 20 Senators – 50% of the Chamber) directs a minimum of $200 million in ARPA relief to the cultural sector. In filing Amendment #49, Senator Kennedy is using his legislation, which has garnered strong bi-partisan support, as a roadmap for the sector’s capacity building and pandemic relief that he hopes to secure in the final Senate ARPA bill.
Artists, cultural organizations, and cultural sector stakeholders have 125 million reasons to email their State Senator today to urge them to support and co-sponsor Senator Kennedy’s Amendment #49. Our advocacy partner, MASSCreative, has launched a “one-click” action alert that easily connects you with your state Senator.
Senators are now filing and reviewing amendments to S. 2564, and the debate is expected to begin on November 10. Once the Senate concludes its debate, a Conference Committee will be formed to negotiate a final, compromise bill, by deciding how to handle any differences contained within the final House and Senate bills. That conference report must then be accepted by the House and Senate and then it goes to the Governor for his final approval. The Legislature is expected to work quickly, as formal sessions recess on November 17, 2021.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Mass Cultural Council surveyed artists and cultural organizations five times to understand the economic impacts of the pandemic on the cultural sector. We know COVID related closures and cancellations were devastating to artists and cultural organizations – between March 2020 and February 2021 they reported more than $600 million in lost revenue and personal income, and that more than 30,000 sector jobs were impacted statewide. Pre-COVID the cultural sector contributed $25.5 billion to the Commonwealth economy, representing 4.3% of the state’s GDP and 142,578 jobs. The Commonwealth cannot truly rebound from the pandemic without a fully-restored cultural sector.
Mass Cultural Council calls on the Senate to adopt Amendment #2 and bolster the cultural sector’s pandemic relief by both including artists as eligible recipients, and funding the account at $200 million, as envisioned by An Act rebuilding the Commonwealth’s cultural future.