Arts Group Tells Gov. Baker Level Funding Isn’t Enough

Photograph courtesy Haverhill Cultural Council.

A state agency that administers grants to local communities for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools and artists is seeking a $3 million increase in state appropriation for the next fiscal year as Governor Charles D. Baker proposes level funding for arts and culture in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is making the case for arts and cultural funding and its benefits to the state’s economy, local communities and education.

“We appreciate Governor Baker’s support for the arts, humanities and sciences,” said Anita Walker, MCC executive director. “Despite an economic recovery, the state still faces significant fiscal challenges. The governor’s budget proposal recognizes that arts and culture are part of the solution to those challenges, and that investing in our cultural organizations, communities and arts education yields real dividends for the Commonwealth.”

WHAV reported last month area cultural councils, funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, recently awarded $51,587 to area local, non-profit arts and cultural groups.

In WHAV’s coverage area, Haverhill granted nearly $24,000, while Methuen gave nearly $17,000, Andover, nearly $6,000 and Groveland, nearly $5,000. Projects include E. Philip Brown’s Haverhill Trivia Book 375th Anniversary Edition and work at the Shoeworkers Memorial Plaza in downtown Haverhill.

MCC was formed in 1990 through the merger of the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities and the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council. It is funded by appropriations from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. Earlier, the Massachusetts Arts Lottery used proceeds from the sale of what would become "Megabucks" lottery tickets to pay for programs.

According to MCC, the Local Cultural Council Program is "the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences annually. Each year, local councils award more than $2 million in grants to more than 5,000 cultural programs statewide. The program promotes the availability of rich cultural experiences for every Massachusetts citizen.”

A fiscal 2016 state budget proposal from Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker would maintain level funding for arts and culture at “just under $11.8 million in the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the coming fiscal year,” according to a statement.

“The state appropriated $12 million for MCC to support arts and cultural programs for the current year. Last month, however, the Legislature passed the Governor’s emergency mid-year budget that cut MCC funding by $215,000 along with many other state programs to fill a large gap between revenues and expenses,” the council said.

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