State Senate Increases Cultural Funding via MCC by $2 Million

(Boston, MA) – The state Senate unanimously approved a budget amendment today that would increase annual funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) by $2 million.

The Senate fiscal year 2016 budget plan allocates $14 million for MCC, an increase of nearly 17 percent from the current state appropriation. The Senate must now reconcile its budget proposal with that of the House, which recommended funding MCC at its current level of $12 million.

Senator Dan Wolf of Harwich led the effort as Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Cultural Caucus. “Arts and tourism are a vibrant part of the economy in the region I represent. It nurtures the creative spirit and soul of Massachusetts,” Wolf said on the Senate floor. “A decade and a half ago our support was almost three times that amount. We are asking for a significant increase compared to the House and Governor but are not close to where we were.”

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester called MCC grants “seed capital” that help nonprofit organizations drive local economies. And Senator Mark Montigny said arts and cultural funding through MCC has played a central role in revitalizing the heart of New Bedford, his hometown.

House and Senate leaders will select members of a conference committee that will work out budget differences before bringing a final plan back to their respective chambers, then back to the Governor for his approval. This process should be completed before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

The Senate vote came after a coalition including MCC, MASSCreative, Mass Humanities, Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, with advocates across the state, urged legislators to restore cultural funding. MCC originally sought $15 million for next year.

“This is another step forward in our effort to restore state support for the arts, humanities, and sciences so that our sector can continue to deliver value to our communities,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker.

Walker thanked Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst for his support, along with Senate Ways & Means Chair Karen Spilka of Ashland, & Senators Wolf, Eric Lesser of Longmeadow & Benjamin Downing of Pittsfield, Chair & Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development; and 17 of their Senate colleagues who cosponsored the amendment to restore MCC funding. She also thanked MASSCreative and the many advocates who added their voices to this effort, and encouraged them to stay engaged through the final stages of the budget process.

See MCC’s Advocacy Action Center for updates on the budget process and for the latest data on the nonprofit cultural sector’s contributions to the Massachusetts economy and quality of life.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council
The MCC is a state agency supporting the arts, sciences, and humanities, to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. It pursues its mission through grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. MCC’s total budget for this fiscal year is $13.3 million, which includes a state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. MCC also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.

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