FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2017
Contact: Gregory Liakos, Communications Director, 617-858-2720
Mass House Budget Plan Would Cut Funding for Arts, Humanities, & Sciences in Coming Year
(Boston, MA) - The state House of Representatives approved a budget yesterday that would cut funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Mass Cultural Council by nearly $2 million for the coming fiscal year.
The House budget plan would fund Mass Cultural Council at $12 million for FY 2018, which begins July 1. That represents a proposed cut of roughly 13 percent from the agency’s current state appropriation of $14 million. House leaders rejected an amendment cosponsored by more than 100 state Representatives to instead increase arts and cultural funding to $16 million, which Mass Cultural Council and its allies sought. In the end, the House budget passed by a 159-1 vote.
If maintained through the budget process, that $2 million cut would reverse gains made in recent years to restore state cultural funding that has barely recovered from the last recession, forcing the agency to cut grants in its key programs. A similar proposal last year was reversed in the Senate, ensuring level funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences from the prior year at $14 million.
Mass Cultural Council Executive Director Anita Walker thanked the House members who signed onto the unsuccessful amendment. And she thanked the thousands of artists, cultural leaders, educators, and others who made the case for cultural funding through an advocacy campaign led by MASSCreative, and supported by Mass Humanities, the Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and others.
“Increased state investment is the surest way to truly leverage the economic, social, and educational potential of the nonprofit cultural sector,” said Walker. “We’ll continue to make our case in the Senate because we recognize the essential role that a rich cultural life plays in communities and the lives of our residents. To invest in our cultural life is to invest in our shared future.”
A $16 million state appropriation would allow Mass Cultural Council to restore vital grants to nonprofit cultural organizations, communities, school and youth programs, and artist fellowships, said Walker. And those investments will yield greater returns to the state through new revenues from cultural tourism, more vibrant communities, and more a creative, resourceful workforce.
The House vote is one key step in the annual state budget process. The Senate Ways & Means Committee will release its own budget proposal in two to three weeks. Following debate and vote, the full Senate must then reconcile its plan with that of the House before sending a final compromise back to the Governor for his approval and/or vetoes.
See our Advocacy Action Center for updates on this budget process along with the latest data on the nonprofit cultural sector’s contributions to the Massachusetts economy and quality of life.
About the Mass Cultural Council
The Mass Cultural Council 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 a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. The agency's total budget for this fiscal year is $16 million, which includes a $14 million state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Council also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund in partnership with MassDevelopment.