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January 19, 2017

Gregory Liakos, Communications Director, 617-858-2720
Carmen Cadran
, Digital Communications Officer, 617-858-2738

STARS Shine at Schools across Mass with MCC Grants

(BOSTON, MA) — Once again the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is helping teachers and schools across the Commonwealth create quality learning experiences in the arts, humanities, and sciences for their students through its popular STARS Residencies.

Today, MCC announced that it has awarded STARS grants to 222 elementary and secondary schools across the Commonwealth to support school-based residencies in the arts, humanities, and sciences. Students of all grades will work with teaching artists, scientists, and nonprofit cultural organizations on a range of learning projects. Examples include public murals that celebrate community identity, in-depth explorations of timeless dramatic works, and dance, music, and visual arts projects that deepen understanding of diverse cultural traditions.

“It’s clear that teachers and principals want to infuse their classrooms with the arts and creativity,” said Anita Walker, Massachusetts Cultural Council Executive Director. “We are more certain than ever of the urgency of this work and the confidence with which we must carry it forward.”

MCC’s $870,000 investment in these residencies will leverage an additional $591,000 from local sources for a total investment of more than $1.4 million, and serve nearly 23,000 students statewide in the current academic year. For the fourth straight year, grant funds were exhausted within hours of the time when STARS applications went online. 

In Lowell, Cambodian master potter and National Heritage Fellow Yary Livan will work with all 336 students at the Pyne Arts Magnet School to create authentic Angkorian designs out of clay, supported by a $5,000 STARS grant. Students will learn the significance of these designs and how, even today, they resonate with Cambodian culture. 

A hands-on residency at Muddy Brook Regional Elementary with the Flying Cloud Institute in Great Barrington will help first-grade students build a deep understanding of how plants and animals use their senses and body parts to survive. As part of their learning, students will use art and dance to better understand the experience of other living things.

A $5,000 STARS grant to the Mather School in Dorchester will support a residency with Olga Marchenko of BalletRox to teach students dances that connect them to their immediate and extended communities. For their final performance, each class will work together to create an original, culturally relevant class dance.

MCC has more than doubled its annual investment in creative youth development over the past few years to more than $2 million with support from the Legislature.

Besides STARS, the agency provides funding for its nationally renowned YouthReach Initiative, which uses arts and culture to empower at-risk adolescents with skills and knowledge to help their transition to adulthood. MCC also funds SerHacer, the first public program in the US to support in-depth music education inspired by El Sistema.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences, to improve our quality of life and contribute to the vitality of our communities. MCC pursues this mission through grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. Its FY17 budget is $15.7 million, which includes a $14 million state appropriation and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. MCC also runs the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) in partnership with MassDevelopment, with a separate allocation from the state’s capital budget.

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