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Home / Mid-Year Update

Mid-Year Update

We believe in the power of culture.

Culture builds community, fosters creativity, and drives social change. It’s also a proven economic engine, delivering billions of dollars in economic activity year after year. Culture is intrinsically valuable and unique in its ability to lift the human spirit.

Working through the arts, humanities, and sciences, Mass Cultural Council partners with communities, artists, organizations, and schools to unleash the power of culture across the Commonwealth. Our annual budget appropriation funds nearly 400 nonprofits in the arts humanities and sciences, 329 Local Cultural Councils, 70 Creative Youth Development organizations, 100,000 field trips from 655 schools, Artist Residencies in 220 schools, 46 Cultural Districts, 210 festivals, Out-of-School-Time programs in 18 communities, 67 Artist Fellowships in 12 disciplines, accessibility for people with disabilities, job service for employment in the nonprofit cultural sector and many other support services.

The agency’s FY19 spending plan invests:

$5.9 million for Nonprofit Cultural Organizations

$3.8 million for Communities

$2.5 million for Creative Youth Development & Education

$613,000 for Artists, and

$1.3 million for Services for Communities, Artists, & Cultural Nonprofits

Mass Cultural Council is an independent state agency governed by a board (‘Council’) of 19 members from across the Commonwealth who are appointed by the Governor. The Council meets four times per Fiscal Year and has one Council Retreat per Fiscal Year. Our Council Members travel to meetings across the state to see the organizations we fund, and hear from our constituents in person. Our Council meetings budget for FY19 is $10,000.

Our most recent Council meeting took place on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at The Rose Art Museum, in Waltham, MA. Costs for Mass Cultural Council March meeting (for volunteer Mass Cultural Council members and volunteer guests), including rentals, AV, and lunch were $1,695. (Per policy, we provide meals during Council meetings to our volunteer Council members.)

Mass Cultural Council is committed to partnering with regional, state, and local stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth to elevate the importance of culture and artists in community building.

The agency hosts a variety of public events across the Commonwealth each year in an effort to connect with and convene members of the cultural sector and to strengthen and enhance the work they are doing in their communities. This Fiscal Year, we have brought our constituents together for trainings, convenings, networking opportunities, press conferences, grant celebrations, roundtable discussions, and “pop-up” events that bring the Council’s grants and services directly to communities across the state. Our staff is present throughout the Commonwealth. To make this possible,

  • We pay for parking for the fleet vehicle for the use of the Executive Director when she is traveling to provide constituent service in communities across the Commonwealth.
  • In August 2018, Mass Cultural Council adopted a new Credit Card Use Policy.
    • We use the P-card to pay for gas for the fleet vehicle and any rental car used by staff.
    • We discontinued use the garage in Boston for the fleet vehicle in October 2018.
  • As a policy, Mass Cultural Council seeks to support Massachusetts-based businesses, those owned by women and minorities, and those that contribute to the cultural ecosystem of our Commonwealth through philanthropy and cultural events in their facilities.

The agency also holds a public reception after each meeting of its Council so that our Governor-appointed Council members can connect more closely and meaningfully with the people and programs the agency is funding. The agency works to ensure each event is held in a physically accessible space and that any and all access needs are accommodated. Costs for the community meeting held on March 19, 2019 in Waltham, MA including refreshments, rentals, AV, and staffing were $1,176.

A core pillar of our strategic plan is to strengthen Mass Cultural Council’s internal capacity to deliver the highest quality services to constituents and enable the agency to effectively fulfill its mission is one of our goals. Mass Cultural Council staff attend conferences to advance their knowledge and expertise in areas such as grantmaking, technical assistance, and cultural equity, to improve the quality and efficiency of service to our constituents.

The following are the conferences we attended in FY19 :

Hosted annually by the Kennedy Center, the nationally renowned Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) conference (Atlanta, Georgia) brings experienced and new professionals together to explore practical methods for implementing accessibility in cultural environments. Our Universal Participation Initiative seeks to break down the barriers that prevent full civic participation in the cultural sector of our Commonwealth. Our staff attended the 2018 LEAD conference and is sharing the knowledge acquired at the conference with our 58 UP Organizations and 10 Innovation and Learning Network members. LEAD has become the epicenter of arts and disability and is one of the best places to share resources and knowledge, and develop the effective accessible practices that steward ADA compliance. Our total budget for the Universal Participation Initiative is $150,000.00, which includes facility reviews, educational sessions, and website audits. Per federal requirements, Mass Cultural Council is required to have an ADA coordinator on staff and to activate regulatory obligations. As a national leader, Mass Cultural Council staff presented at the most recent conference and lead a session, which meant the registration fee was waived. Additionally, the Mass Cultural Council received a grant from New England Foundation For the Arts for staff participation at the event and as a result was reimbursed for all travel and hotel costs.

The Public x Design Conference by the Gehl Institute in Detroit, Michigan brings together a diverse group of people who contribute to the vitality of the public life of our cities. This year’s theme was “From Inclusion to Equity.” Our Community staff attended the conference, shared ideas about the way we co-create our cities through defining and designing public space that promotes a vibrant public life. Our staff learned about creating spaces that were geared toward multiple demographics and easy to access so that local populations could benefit and innovative work coming out of other states in the nation. This information was shared with 329 Local Cultural Councils and 46 Cultural Districts through our Community Initiative. The agency invests $3.8 million into the Community Initiative. Additionally, this conference aligns with the strategic plan’s goal focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, improving our ability to encourage full participation in Mass Cultural Council-supported programs by promoting universal design principles, inclusive practices, and equitable access for all.

In alignment with our strategic plan and our goal of advancing inclusion and equity, our staff attended the 2018 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference: Race, Space, and Place in Oakland, California. Sessions went from ‘Cultural Equity Frameworks in Philanthropy’ to ‘Open, Closed, or All of the Above: Accessibility, equity, and inclusion in artist award selection process’ and ‘Integrating the Arts with Higher Education: What funders need to know.’ Learned takeaways has helped informed how to best serve our constituencies. The sessions were particularly relevant to the Cultural Facilities Fund staff which awards $9 million in grants and resulted in changed to improve equitability and grant reviewer training.

Our Festivals program staff attended and presented at the International Festivals & Events Association Convention in San Diego, California. Research shows that community festivals have the lowest barriers for participation. The agency invested $140,000 in the Festival Program, which is designed to provide funding to help festival programmers meet the needs of producing, promoting, and developing audiences, and all this learning experience is transmitted to all of our festivals grantees. As a presenter, our staff received a discounted rate to attend the conference.

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NAASA) in Baltimore, Maryland is a national peer learning and exchange opportunity provided by the service organization for arts agencies.  NASAA is the professional association of the nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies. NASAA is a national, not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that champions public support for the arts in America. Together, NASAA and the state arts agencies advance the arts as an essential ingredient in the well-being and prosperity of our nation’s individuals, communities and families.  Because of its national leadership role, Mass Cultural Council staff presented and/or lead sessions about Accessibility and inclusion for the state arts agency ADA coordinator peer group, the folk and traditional arts pre-conference, and it’s first in the nation EBT Card to Culture Program, which has since been emulated by at least one other state arts agency. The conference had an intentional focus on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion and provided guidance and insight for state alerts agencies in particular, which supported the agency’s DEI goal in its strategic plan.  Multiple staff members received free or reduced registration fees because of the role they played at the conference and/or scholarships they received.

The 2018 National Creative Placemaking and Change Summit in College Park, Maryland presented by The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking and Artplace America brings together practitioners, academics, advocates, creatives involved in creating positive community change through arts and culture. The conference covered the basics of how-to carryout creative placemaking in communities, as well as presentations and panels on people’s varying experiences in employing creative methods to address public health, inclusive community engagement, activating vacant spaces, revitalizing rural communities, affecting policymaking, and developing evaluative methods to gauge impact of creative placemaking. As the Community Initiative broadens and deepens our involvement in building relationships and empowering our constituents to develop innovative, engaging, and equitable practices in cultural and community development, the conference offered an opportunity to inform the Community staff of best practices, trends, and the current landscape of creative community development.

To further our understanding of diversity, inclusion, and equity in relation to our strategic plan, our Community Initiative staff attended The National Arts Strategies (NAS) Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This conference provided multiple touch points for leaders from across the NAS network to work together to tackle challenges and explore how biases and our approach to leadership affect our work. One session focused on how leaders can be “culturally savvy” by encouraging participants to reflect on how intentional they are when creating spaces for others to experience. In another session, participants explored the individual leadership and change methods Frederick Douglass had while ending slavery. Finally, breakout sessions provided staff with an opportunity to discuss racial equity and principles that can be developed to be implemented within the workplace. Takeaways include methods of leading change that can be implemented in the work our department carriers forward when working with Local Cultural Councils, grantees, and future applicants.

The agency’s folk and traditional arts staff attended the Folklore Society’s 130th Annual Meeting in Buffalo, New York. Participants in the annual meeting were encouraged to explore how at this divisive moment in American life, folklore confronts economic and social disruptions, builds community resilience and sustains pluralism amidst threats to E Pluribus Unum. Participants were invited to present with colleagues from other disciplines and our community collaborators in recognition of folklore as an inherently inclusive, multidisciplinary field of study. In considering folklore as both academic discipline and public practice, participants are encouraged to examine how folklore engages community members as partners, valuing local knowledge and facilitating cultural self-determination. It was an opportunity for the Mass Cultural Council’s nationally award-winning staff to keep abreast of developments and opportunities in the field as well as share their expertise with other folklorists from across the nation. The agency invests $40,000 to $70,000 in its folk and traditional arts program each year.

Equity in the Panel Room, a day log meeting in New York, New York. The Equity in the Panel Room working group, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was established to investigate and research the grant-making process through the lens of equity. Participants all designed and implemented 10-12 “interventions for equity,” which they piloted over the course of the project. The culminating event of the working group was a day long working meeting in New York City where participants and a broader group of funders came together to learn about the equity interventions. Our staff attended to learn about strategies or improving equity and preventing bias in the panel review process. Several ideas were implemented across the agency.

New England Museum Association (NEMA)’s “Museums on the Move-the 100th Anniversary NEMA Conference” which was held on November 7-9, 2018 in Stamford, Connecticut. Mass Cultural Council Community Initiative staff was invited to speak (along with other Massachusetts cultural practitioners) at a panel session entitled “Cultural Crossroads and Intersections: How Collaborations, Creative Communities and Museums are Sparking Change.” Museums are driving change as the new heart and soul of creative communities, becoming the intersection where dynamic community connections are happening. This panel featured discussions around ArtWeek, a Massachusetts statewide program (administered by the Boch Center and sponsored in part by Mass Cultural Council), which in Spring 2018 worked with over 70 collaborators and 525 event hosts including many Massachusetts museums who are members of NEMA. The session focused on how collaborations of all kinds are lighting creative sparks and how museum can “think outside the gallery walls.”

Detail of Agency’s Air Fare ‘P-Card’ Expenses in FY19

Date of Charge Vendor Dollar
7/9/2013 Southwest Airlines $218 Strategic consultant on Creative Youth Development flight to Boston, Massachusetts
7/13/2018 Southwest Airlines $115 Strategic consultant on Creative Youth Development flight home
7/20/2018 Delta $166 Flight for professional development for staff attending the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Conference (LEAD) in Atlanta, Georgia
8/2/2018 JetBlue $212 Flight for professional development for staff attending National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in Baltimore, Maryland
8/15/2018 United Airlines 432 Flight for professional development for staff attending the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference in Oakland, California
8/16/2018 JetBlue $236 Flight for professional development for staff attending the American Folklore Society in Buffalo, New York
8/21/2018 JetBlue $386 Flight for professional development for staff attending the Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) Conference in Oakland, California
9/6/2018 JetBlue $171 Flight for professional development for staff attending the National Creative Placemaking Summit in College Park, Maryland
9/6/2018 American Airlines $78 Flight for professional development for staff traveling home from the National Creative Placemaking Summit in College Park, Maryland
9/10/2018 Delta $420 Flight for professional development for staff attending Public X Design Conference in Detroit, Michigan
9/11/2018 American Airlines $561 Flight for speaking participation and professional development for staff at the International Festivals & Events Association Convention (IFEA) in San Diego, California
10/26/2018 Southwest Airlines $560 Flight for professional development for staff attending the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in Baltimore, Maryland
11/1/2018 Delta $126 Flight for professional development for staff attending the National Arts Strategies Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota


Detail of Agency’s Hotel ‘P-Card’ Expenses in FY19

Date of Charge Vendor Dollar
7/2/2018 Red Lion Inn $1,273 Lodging in the Berkshires on multi-day visit to meet Chesterwood artists, speaker participation at ‘Sculpture at Chesterwood’ opening event, and participate event at the Berkshire Theater Group Festival
7/10/2018 Four Points Sheraton $804 Lodging for staff hosting a Cultural Facilities Fund public reception at Wellfleet Preservation Hall, meeting with program grantees and applicants, and meeting witth local officals.
7/13/2018 Hotwire $700 Strategic consultant visit to Boston with 2 night hotel stay
7/13/2018 Hilton (Hampton Hotel) $317 Lodging for professional development for staff to attend Panel Bias conference in New York, NY
7/20/2018 Priceline Vacation Pkg $827 Lodging for professional development for staff member including Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Conference (LEAD) in Atlanta, Georgia
7/25/2018 $103 Lodging for 2-day Cultural District site visits in Wellfleet, Orleans, Barnstable, and Harwich MA
7/25/2018 Fairfield Inn $244 Lodging to speak at Mass Mayors Association at New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA
7/26/2018 Red Lion Inn $274 Lodging while in the Berkshires to attend Kids 4 Harmony event
8/1/2018 $233 Lodging for 2-day Cultural District site visits in Williamstown, Pittsfield, and North Adams, MA
9/26/2018 Marriott Detroit $333 Lodging for professional development for staff at Public X Design Conference in Detroit, Michigan
10/2/2018 Town and Country $626 Lodging for speaking participation and professional development for staff at the International Festivals & Events Association Convention (IFEA) in San Diego, California
10/8/2018 Marriott $403 Lodging for professional development for staff attending the National Creative Placemaking Summit in College Park, Maryland
10/18/2018 Fairfield Inn $166 Lodging between all-day Cultural Districts Convening in Natick, MA and early meeting with MA Department of Early Education and Care in Hyannis, MA to develop Early Childhood program for seven Cape Cod Communities involving area cultural organizations
10/23/2018 Red Lion Inn $424 Lodging in the Berkshires on multi-day visit to tour Trinity Church in Lenox, MA with state legislator, host community event with the Cultural District in Downtown Great Barrington at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center; and host Mass Cultural Council Retreat on Creative Youth Development in Shelburne Falls
10/30/2018 Hotel 1620 $201 Lodging after attendance at all-day Philanthropy Day conference and speaking engagement in Hyannis, MA
11/3/2018 Sheraton $242 Lodging for early-morning public roundtable with local legislators and constituents in Springfield, MA
11/8/2018 Hilton $146 Lodging for professional development for staff attending the New England Museum Association conference in Stamford, CT
12/1/2018 Residence Inn $126 Lodging for 2-day site visits to Local Cultural Councils in Hampden County
1/26/2019 Courtyard Inns $3,333 Lodging for those attending the Universal Participation Initiative 2019 2-day session for the Innovation and Learning Network at the Discovery Museum in Acton, MA.  Attendance at both days is required per the program guidelines and Mass Cultural Council provides lodging for those participants who require it.
2/5/2019 Deerfield Inn $220 Lodging for meetings with local elected officials and with representatives of the Wonderfund in Deerfield, MA


Detail of Agency’s Food ‘P-Card’ Expenses in FY19

Date of Charge Vendor Dollar
7/3/2018 Starr Catering $680 Catering, AV, and rentals for Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF)  public reception at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA
7/12/2013 Winslows Tavern $24 Meal while on a visit for CFF public reception and  meeting with local officials in Wellfleet, MA
7/12/2018 Flying Fish Café $72 Refreshments for Cultural Facilities Fund  public reception in Wellfleet, MA
7/17/2018 Red Leaf Café $350 Refreshments for Community Meeting at Watertown Public Library
7/24/2018 Post 390 $114 Off-site Annual Budget Planning Retreat lunch
7/24/2018 Waterfront Grille $20 Meal while on a visit for speaking engagement at Mass Municipal Association in New Bedford, MA
8/16/2018 S&S Deli $81 Refreshments for meeting with Cultural District constituents in Central Square, Cambridge, MA
8/23/2018 Starbucks $36 Coffee for meeting with Cultural Data Working Group
10/15/2018 Stop & Stop $91 Refreshments for statewide Cultural District convening at The Center for the Arts in Natick, MA
10/31/2018 Palazzo Café $100 Coffee for public roundtable with state legislators and constituents in Springfield, MA
11/5/2018 Davios To-Go $7.71 Coffee 1:1 with new Executive Director and Chair of MassHumanities
11/6/2018 Dirty Water Dough $740 Meal for 57 program grantees at required workshop paid for outside funder
11/13/2018 Davios To-Go $91.50 Refreshments for State House event hosting the British delegation for Plymouth 400 event
11/15/2018 Davios To-Go $22 Strategic plan implementation: Provide lunch per contract to tech consultant
11/19/2018 Davios To-Go $4.00 Coffee for meeting with new volunteer Mass Cultural Council
12/18/2018 Boloco $117 Off-site Communities staff retreat with strategic consultant lunch
1/24/2019 Roche Brothers $414 Catering for lunch for the Universal Participation Initiative Innovation and Learning Network 2019 session at the Discovery Museum in Acton, MA.


All Mass Cultural Council expenditures represent responsible and appropriate use of state funds, are consistent with laws and regulations governing state spending, and align with best practices for public agencies.