January 9, 2008
CULTURAL FACILITIES UPDATE
Last September, the board of MassDevelopment voted
to approve 62 Cultural Facilities Fund grants totaling $16.7
million for the original 201 applicants. The grants were supported
by appropriations of $13 million from the economic stimulus bill
that was passed in July 2006 and $5.0 million from the FY08 state
budget that was approved in July 2007. MassDevelopment
co-administers the fund with the Mass Cultural Council.
The awards capped a thorough review process that began last spring,
when Mass Cultural Council convened a series of four expert panels to review the 201
applications and $80 million in total requests. The panels reviewed
each application based on eligibility requirements and criteria defined
in the Cultural Facilities Fund statute. The panels also rated each
application numerically according to the weighted review criteria
published in the Cultural Facilities Fund guidelines. The Cultural
Facilities Fund Advisory Committee met three times last summer to
consider the review process and award assignment system for the first
round of grants. On August 15, the Committee voted to approve $16.7
million of grant recommendations to 62 projects. These grants were
approved by the board of MassDevelopment on September 11, 2007.
On October 19, 2007, the Massachusetts Legislature approved a supplemental
appropriation of $7 million for the Fund. A subsequent amendment to
that appropriation, which passed both the House and Senate on Dec.
28, 2007 dedicates $5.5 million of that $7 million to cultural organizations
with operating budgets under $5 million. This amendment was signed
by the Governor this week.
From conversations with various leaders of the State Senate and
House of Representatives, it is clear to the Council that the
Legislature intends for this supplemental appropriation to be
used to extend grants to applications that were not funded in
the first round. To that end, the Mass Cultural Council plans to call a meeting
of the Advisory Committee in late January to decide on a process
for the original pool of applicants. The Advisory Committee's
new recommendations would then go to the Board of MassDevelopment
for approval at its February 14, 2008 meeting.
Meanwhile, the Governor and the Legislature are also crafting their
respective budgets for Fiscal Year 2009, which begins July 1, 2008.
The Mass Cultural Council is working in coalition with MAASH and the Boston Foundation
asking them to include a new appropriation for the Cultural Facilities
Fund of $13 million, to match that for the first year. The Mass Cultural Council expects
to send out new guidelines and a review process in July, assuming
a new appropriation for the Fund is included in the state budget
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