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We Have a State Budget!

Bethann Steiner, Senior Director of Public Affairs

Creative & Cultural Sector to Receive $25M+ in FY24 Spending Plan

On Friday afternoon those of us who follow #mapoli state government developments were excited to see an announcement made by FY24 Budget Conference Committee chairs, Senator Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, stating that an agreement in principle had been struck. On Sunday evening the Conference Committee filed its $56.2 billion FY24 spending plan, and today both the House of Representatives and Massachusetts Senate have scheduled sessions to vote on this important legislation.

Once enacted by both Chambers, the budget will go to Governor Maura Healey’s desk. The Governor has 10 days to review and act on the legislation. As FY24 began on July 1, state government operations have been supported by a “1/12” budget, and a second “1/12” budget is in place to cover spending during the early days of August.

As an independent state agency, Mass Cultural Council is primarily funded through the annual state budget. This year the Agency requested an appropriation of $25 million and was extremely grateful throughout the process to see this figure embraced by all parties: the Governor, the House of Representatives, the Massachusetts Senate, and now the FY24 Budget Conferees.

The FY24 conference budget funds arts and culture through the Agency’s line-item with a total of $25,895,000. This figure represents $25 million for Agency programs and services, a 11% increase to Mass Cultural Council’s operating budget from FY23, and $895,000 to support 16 earmarks – legislatively mandated spending that supports local arts and culture organizations, events, and initiatives.

According to the Agency’s records, today’s $25.9M appropriation is the second highest ever for the creative and cultural sector, with only the FY88 budget coming in higher at $27.4M.

This historic level of funding, paired with additional resources from the National Endowment for the Arts, 2% of casino gaming state tax revenues, and capital funding to support the Cultural Facilities Fund will inform the development of Mass Cultural Council’s FY24 spending plan.

We note with further gratitude that the House and Senate adopted our suggestion to update the text of our line-item, thereby enshrining the goals of our new three-year strategic plan. This is important as the line-item provides direction on how the Agency is expected to design and administer grant programs in FY24 to bolster and equitably invest in the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector:

…that the council shall expend from any source an amount not less than 75 per

cent of the amount of this item on grants and subsidies to further the

achievement of the goals of the council’s 3-year strategic plan, including:

(i) stewarding programmatic practices that advance equity, diversity and

inclusion; (ii) advancing the creative and cultural sector through building

partnerships, identifying recommendations and storytelling; and (iii)

ensuring internal systems, structures and ways of working reflect the

council’s values of creativity, public service and inclusion and advance

the sector’s needs…

Securing this robust public investment into the sector in the state budget required months of coordinated advocacy and conversation with policymakers, and Mass Cultural Council wishes to thank our partners in the Healey-Driscoll Administration, the House of Representatives, and the Massachusetts Senate who supported our funding request. In particular, and with great appreciation, we wish to recognize the support of Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Ways & Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Chair Paul Mark, and Senate Budget Conferees Cindy Friedman and Patrick O’Connor, as well as Speaker Ronald Mariano, House Ways & Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, House Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development Chair Mindy Domb, and House Budget Conferees Ann-Margaret Ferrante and Todd Smola. We truly appreciate your support, partnership, and belief in the power of culture.

Further, we recognize the efforts of our statewide partners, MASSCreative and Mass Humanities, who provided additional testimony to the Legislature every step of the way, ensuring policymakers understood why this level of investment into the sector is important for the Massachusetts economy.

We look forward to launching our grant programs and initiatives for the creative and cultural sector as soon as the FY24 budget is signed into law and our governing Council approves our FY24 spending plan. More information will be published on our website, on social media (follow us @MassCultural), and in our monthly Power of Culture e-newsletter as it becomes available.

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