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PRESS RELEASE- Cultural Funding Supports Massachusetts’ Creative Economy
September 22, 2008

North Adams - State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) joined the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and its partners this afternoon at MassMoCA in North Adams to announce the release of nearly $800,000 from MCC in new public funding for organizations, communities and schools throughout his Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Senate District. These grants will stimulate new economic activity, support creative learning for young people, and expand access to arts and culture in western Massachusetts.

 

In total, MCC will award nearly $9 million in grant support for organizations, communities, and schools across the Commonwealth in FY 2009.

 

Downing commented on the vital role cultural venues play in the region’s identity, “Western Massachusetts is rich with cultural offerings that not only attracts a multitude of visitors, but enriches the lives of those who choose to call this place home.  MCC has chosen wisely to invest in community-based and education-enriching programs allowing locals to access cultural experiences unique to our area.”

 

Massachusetts’ FY 2009 operating budget boosted the MCC appropriation by $361,000 to nearly $12.7 million. With an additional $141,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) the MCC was able to slightly increase funding for its core grant programs this year.

 

MCC grants were awarded in the following programs statewide:

 

Organizational Support, $4.3 million

Organizational Support provides operating funds to nearly 400 arts, humanities, and science organizations with track records of excellence, education, and community service. These organizations allow Massachusetts children and adults to experience everything from theatre and music to visual arts and dance, history and nature, new languages and cultures. These three-year grants must be matched one to one, and range from $2,600 to $65,500. New grants this year are announced in literature, history, science, arts presenting and sponsoring, and service organizations.

 

Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program, $2.9 million

The LCC Program is the most extensive cultural funding system of its kind in the nation. This grassroots network provides funding to every Massachusetts city and town through 329 LCCs and 2,500 volunteers. The councils support projects that explore local arts and history, expand education and accessibility, and celebrate diversity. Local council grants range from $4,300 for the smallest towns to $98,100 for Worcester and $176,100 for Boston, according to a formula that reflects the state’s local aid system.

 

Creative Minds: Education in Schools & Communities, $1.1 million

The Creative Minds Initiative includes an array of grants, services, and public policy priorities that support quality creative learning experiences for young people in schools and after-school settings. These include:

·        Creative Schools, $432,675

The Creative Schools program will support 45 schools and districts working to integrate the arts, sciences, and humanities into the curriculum, many in partnership with non-profit cultural organizations and artist-educators.

·        YouthReach, $549,460

MCC’s nationally renowned YouthReach program supports partnerships between cultural and community organizations that integrate rigorous out-of-school arts opportunities for youth at risk of failure because of poverty, illness, crime, or neglect.  The grants will fund 48 organizations across the state.

·        Other Creative Minds Initiatives, $167,500

Other investments for young people include the newly launched Big Yellow School Bus program, which provides grants to schools for cultural field trips; Poetry Out Loud, an NEA-sponsored poetry recitation contest for high school students; and Arts Immersion Teacher Institutes to advance the quality of arts instruction in schools.

 

Partnerships:  $645,000

The MCC will invest $425,000 in MassHumanities, which uses history, literature, philosophy, and other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in the Commonwealth. The agency also partners with the New England Foundation for the Arts on regional creative economy initiatives; VSA Arts of Massachusetts to expand access to arts experiences for disabled residents; and the Vermont Arts Exchange to provide programs for Massachusetts patients living with chronic disabling diseases.

 

MCC will also increase grants for individual artists next year. The MCC’s Artist Fellowships will now be $10,000, up from $7,500 last year. Artist Fellowships are announced in June.

 

The MCC is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences, to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.

 

The MCC pursues this mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.  MCC's budget for the current fiscal year is $13.9 million, including $12.65 million from the state of Massachusetts and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources.

 

For more information, please visit www.massculturalcouncil.org or call 617-727-3668.

 

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