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September 11, 2007

Contact: Adam Bickelman, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086; or
Gregory Liakos, Mass Cultural Council, 617-858-2700 x22720

New Program Leverages Support for Creative Economy Infrastructure in Massachusetts

Sixty-two organizations across Massachusetts will receive grants ranging from $675,000 to $3,938 from the state's new Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF). The grants, totaling $16.7 million, were announced today by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which administer the program jointly. Of the amount awarded, $16.2 million will support 45 capital projects; and $478,688 will be used by 17 groups for feasibility and planning studies.

CFF grants will support Massachusetts non-profit cultural organizations with building projects that increase tourism, create new jobs, leverage private funding and expand arts and cultural activities in communities across the state. The projects chosen for funding total $665 million in capital investment.

"Cultural organizations are central to our identity in the Commonwealth," said MassDevelopment President/CEO and CFF Advisory Committee Chair Robert L. Culver. "They attract visitors to Massachusetts and stimulate tourism, a major economic engine for Massachusetts. They need to be maintained and improved to meet contemporary and future needs. Investing in them supports a vital industry sector: the creative economy."

Recipients are located in 35 communities statewide from Provincetown to Boston to North Adams; and run the gamut from small neighborhood-based cultural groups to large, world-renowned museums, science centers, and theaters. Provincetown's Fine Arts Work Center will draw on a $205,000 allotment to reconstruct an historic building to support emerging artists and writers.

In Boston, the Museum of African American History will use $420,000 to restore the building's exterior, increase handicap access, and undertake other building repairs. In North Adams, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMOCA) will use a $429,000 grant to renovate a 27,000-square-foot former mill building and create a new gallery. And the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, which has provided free and low-cost art programs and featured diverse music, theatre, dance and educational opportunities for grades K-12, will use $22,500 for a facility needs assessment and feasibility study for expanding into a new building.

"Over the last 300 years, the people of Massachusetts have created a unique resource in our unrivalled array of arts, science, and heritage institutions," said Mass Cultural Council Executive Director and CFF Advisory Committee member Anita Walker. "They are national treasures, and we have a responsibility to maintain and improve them for the benefit of future generations. These grants are a down payment on our future."

MassDevelopment and the Mass Cultural Council, co-administer the program. Mass Cultural Council, which solicited and evaluated CFF applications, received 201 requests for funding totaling $80 million. Mass Cultural Council recruited 28 experts from across the U.S. with experience in tourism, facilities finance, real estate project management, construction, facilities operations, organizational development, grant making and historic renovation and preservation to review and rank the applications using a weighted set of criteria. All applications were also reviewed by an appointed Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee with statewide representation. The board of MassDevelopment approved the awards, which MassDevelopment manages and disburses. Award decisions were based on the recipients' ranking and annual operating budget. Maximum awards were capped at $675,000. Grants announced today must be matched one-to-one by the awardee with funds from private sources.

The Legislature created the Cultural Facilities Fund in July, 2006 appropriating an initial $13 million as part of an omnibus economic stimulus bill. The FY 2008 state budget provided an additional $5 million.

See a grant list by region

A series of grant celebrations have been scheduled across the state.

The Mass Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences, to improve the quality of life for Massachusetts residents and contribute to the state's economic vitality. Mass Cultural Council is committed to building a central place for arts and culture in the everyday lives of communities through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for cultural organizations, schools, and artists. Mass Cultural Council receives an annual appropriation from the state Legislature and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources.

MassDevelopment, the state's finance and development authority, works with businesses, financial institutions and local officials to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. Between FY 2004 and FY 2006, MassDevelopment financed or managed 589 projects statewide representing an investment of more than $4 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are supporting the creation of 5,505 housing units and more than 23,000 jobs: 12,381 permanent and 10,679 construction-related.


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