Key resource in creative placemaking threatened by budget cuts

A key resource for Gateway City revitalization efforts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, would be significantly weakened by the state budget proposal released last week by the House Committee on Ways and Means. The MCC reports that the House budget allocates only $8.1 million for the agency during the next fiscal year:

This would represent a significant budget cut of nearly $1.5 million—or 15 percent—that would force cuts to grants that support thousands of public programs in the arts, sciences, and humanities across Massachusetts. The cuts proposed by the Ways & Means Committee are on top of a one-percent, mid-year cut to MCC’s state appropriation that the Legislature approved earlier this year, and reduced support from theNational Endowment for the Arts in the coming year.

State support for MCC is already less than half of what it was a decade ago, even as the nonprofit cultural sector that it supports continues to struggle with a prolonged economic downturn that has eroded philanthropic support from all sources.

The MCC is directing supporters to an online petition in support of an amendment sponsored by Representative Cory Atkins of Concord to restore MCC funding to $12.5 million. MASSCreative, an advocacy group for arts and cultural programs in the Commonwealth, is working with the MCC on this effort.

The House is on break for April vacation and will begin debate on the FY14 state budget during the week of April 22.

From the 2012 MassINC report “Building Vibrancy: Creative Placemaking Strategies for Gateway City Growth and Renewal”:

The Cultural Council’s modest Adams Grant program has provided the seed capital for projects and organizations leading the charge for creative placemaking in Gateway Cities, including AHA!, Creative Haverhill, Cultural Pittsfield, and the Worcester Cultural Coalition. MCC operating support grants give nonprofit cultural organizations, which sustain many creative placemaking efforts across the state, a resource to support programming. In Gateway Cities where philanthropic resources are limited, these grants provide a vital lifeline. While the MCC has clearly been critical to the success that Gateway Cities have had with creative placemaking, its state appropriation has been cut in half over the last decade, falling from $19 million in 2002 to just $9 million in 2012.

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