Anyone who doubts the impact the Berkshire Arts organizations have on the local economy need only consider this. If the approximately half million attendees at performances and museums added 12 gallons of gas to their autos to get to a Berkshire museum or, say, Barrington Stage, that pit stop alone would add $2.5 million to the state’s tax revenues. Cultural tourism is a powerful economic engine.
So when we learn that in 2013 the state’s Cultural Council is awarding some $462,100 to 30 local organizations, it is an investment that is returned many times over, not only from fuel tax revenues, but from incremental gains in the meals and sales taxes, not to mention the hotel/motel tax. The Berkshire Cultural Economy produces jobs, not only on stage, but for carpenters, electricians and accountants too.
Here is a breakdown of who gets what:
MCC 2013 Cultural Investment Portfolio
Partners – $388,700
Barrington Stage Company, Inc. Sheffield $18,000
The Berkshire Historical Society Pittsfield $5,000
The Berkshire Museum Pittsfield $15,800
The Berkshire Music School, Inc. Pittsfield $5,000
The Berkshire Theatre Group Stockbridge $25,800
Center for Ecological Technology, Inc. Pittsfield $38,600
Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute Williamstown $50,000
Community Access to the Arts, Inc. Great Barrington $5,000
Hancock Shaker Village, Inc. Pittsfield $15,300
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Inc. Becket $28,800
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art North Adams $41,300
The Norman Rockwell Museum Stockbridge $28,300
Shakespeare & Company Lenox $21,700
Williamstown Theatre Festival Williamstown $20,500
Colleagues – $58,400
Aston Magna Foundation for Music & Hum. Great Barrington $3,000
Berkshire Choral Festival, Inc. Sheffield $10,000
Chester Theatre Company Chester $2,700
Close Encounters with Music, Inc. Pittsfield $3,000
Flying Cloud Institute Great Barrington $3,000
Images Cinema Williamstown $3,000
IS183 Art School West Stockbridge $3,700
The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Great Barrington $10,000
The Orion Society Great Barrington $10,000
Williams College Museum of Art Williamstown $10,000
Peers – 15,000
Bazaar Productions, Inc. (Berkshire Fringe) Stockbridge $2,500
Berkshire Children’s Chorus Sheffield $2,500
Berkshire Film and Media Commission Great Barrington $2,500
Berkshire Playwrights Lab Great Barrington $2,500
Kidspace, Inc. North Adams $2,500
SculptureNow Becket $2,500
In addition to these funds, there are the annual grants to the cities and town for their own Cultural Councils which re-grant the funds to local arts and cultural initiatives. These range from a minimum of $3,870 for the smaller towns to $18,320 for the City of Pittsfield.
In total, the Board of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) has approved grants totaling close to $8 million for nonprofit cultural organizations, local cultural councils, and education programs across the Commonwealth. The Board voted unanimously to approve these grants—along with four new state-designated cultural districts in Concord, Lowell, Natick, and Shelburne Falls—during its August meeting held in the heart of one of the new cultural districts at Lowell’s Boott Cotton Mills Museum.
“I’m thrilled to announce this latest round of investments in the Massachusetts nonprofit cultural sector,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. “The MCC is committed to restoring funding for the arts, sciences, and humanities in Massachusetts, and in its first year alone the Cultural Districts Initiative has fostered the cultural development of now 10 incredible communities. I look forward to continuing this creative momentum across the Commonwealth through all of our grant programs and initiatives over the next year.”
This fall, the MCC launches Creative Minds/Creative Communities – a series of events taking place across the Commonwealth to celebrate this newest round of investments. The first event is scheduled for Monday, September 24 at 4pm in Barnstable at the Cape Cod Art Association. We will be joined by Senate President Therese Murray of Plymouth along with other legislative leaders.
Additional Creative Minds/Creative Communities events are scheduled in Leominster, Shelburne Falls, and Newburyport, with plans for gatherings in Greater Boston, Metrowest, Greater Springfield, and the North Shore.
Cultural Districts Initiative
Concord, Lowell, Natick, and Shelburne Falls are home to the newest Massachusetts state-designated Cultural Districts. A cultural district is a compact, walkable area of a community with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. MCC’s Cultural Districts Initiative grew out of an economic stimulus bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010. It is designed to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster local cultural development. Each new district will have signage, an online profile on the Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism and MCC websites, and other amenities. Other previously designated cultural districts include – Boston’s Fenway Cultural District, Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District, Lynn’s Central Exchange Cultural District, the Upstreet Cultural District in Pittsfield, Hyannis’s HyArts Cultural District, and the Rockport Cultural District.
The MCC distributes nearly $8M in grants across the following programs this fall –
Cultural Investment Portfolio: $3.6 million
The Cultural Investment Portfolio comprises 394 nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations across Massachusetts. These organizations connect children and adults to theatre, music, visual arts, and film; teach them about history, literature, and the natural environment; and introduce them to new languages and cultures. Cultural Investment Portfolio grants must be matched one to one, and range from $2,500 to $50,000.
Local Cultural Councils: $2.3 million
Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) comprise the most extensive public cultural funding network in the nation. They provide funding to every Massachusetts city and town through 329 local councils and more than 2,300 volunteers. The councils support local arts and history, fund school field trips, and sponsor local concerts and exhibitions. Grants to local councils range from $3,870 for the smallest towns to $74,270 for Worcester and $133,320 for Boston, according to a formula that reflects the state’s local aid system.
Creative Minds: Education in School and Out of School: $940,000
MCC works to ensure that all children have access to high-quality, creative learning experiences through grants, services, and advocacy for schools, communities, and nonprofit cultural organizations.
STARS Residencies place artists, scientists and other creative teachers in schools.
The YouthReach Initiative makes grants to cultural and community-based organizations to support in-depth arts, humanities, and science programs for young people at risk.
Big Yellow School Bus provides grants to help schools meet the transportation costs of educational field trips to cultural institutions in Massachusetts.
Poetry Out Loud is a national competition in which high school students memorize and perform poetry real poems and explore the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken work, and theatre in their English and Drama classes.
Adams Arts Program: $470,830
MCC has been supporting creative economy initiatives throughout Massachusetts for more than a decade. In 2004, the Legislature created the Adams Arts Program, which funds projects that create jobs and income, revitalize downtowns, and increase cultural tourism. Adams funded projects leverage the assets of the creative sector – artists, cultural organizations, and arts-related businesses – inherent in Massachusetts’ communities, to generate real income.
Adams Arts Program grants were previously distributed once per calendar year. The program is changing to operate on a fiscal year cycle. This $470,830 in new grants is in addition to grants distributed previously in the year. The program will adjust fully to a fiscal year cycle in FY14.
The MCC will also provide annual grants to MassHumanities, which supports public programs in history, literature, and other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in the Commonwealth; and the New England Foundation for the Arts for regional creative economy initiatives and programs for Massachusetts artists.