Opinion » Guest Opinion

The year ahead...

Tuesday Dec 31, 2013

By Matt Wilson

MASSCreative closes out exciting 2013-and looks forward to more victories in 2014

If someone had told us last year at this time that the arts, culture and creative community would have impacted the Boston Mayoral election in significant ways, that Governor Deval Patrick would triple the state's investment in maintaining and rebuilding our cultural facilities, and that lawmakers would approve a significant increase in funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, we would not have believed it.

Yet that's exactly what happened.

In June, Massachusetts lawmakers increased the state's investment in local, creative communities by allocating an additional $1.6 million to the Massachusetts Cultural Council's $12.5 million budget. This 17% increase in funding was the first significant increase to the council in seven years. And it came as a result of a strategic advocacy campaign that generated more than 5,000 petition signatures to the Governor, and 2,000 emails, phone calls, and letters to lawmakers from artists and citizens passionate about the arts. As a result of these efforts, more community-based arts organizations, working artists, and arts educators around the Commonwealth will receive the funding they need to create art that enriches us all.

In November, Governor Deval Patrick tripled the state's investment in the Cultural Facilities Fund from $5 million to $15 million. These funds will be used to repair and rebuild cultural venues around the state that help create connected communities and vibrant, thriving economies. Governor Patrick's bold investment came after MASSCreative's "Invest the Rest" campaign generated 1,200 emails, phone calls, and letters to the governor urging him to increase the state's investment in the Commonwealth's Cultural Facilities Fund.

And throughout 2013, MASSCreative led the Create the Vote Coalition-a collaboration of more than 100 of Boston's arts, cultural, and creative institutions-and injected arts and cultural issues into the Boston mayoral campaign. The coalition hosted the largest public debate of the primary campaign by filling every seat in the Paramount Theatre for the Boston Mayoral Candidate Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity. We collected questionnaires from the candidates and publicized their views on arts and cultural issues through our blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and by generating media coverage of arts issues. Throughout the six-month campaign, we nurtured vigorous discussion of what would constitute a mayoral arts champion. As a result of our efforts, Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh has pledged to lead an "Arts Renaissance" and to appoint a cabinet-level arts commissioner to his administration; create a cultural affairs office; invest in the arts; and create and implement a strategic cultural plan that integrates the arts with other city priorities including education, economic development, public safety, housing, and transportation.

In 2014, we will work to increase the state's investment in the Massachusetts Cultural Council above and beyond what it did in 2013. We will bring our Create the Vote campaign to the governor's race. And we will be working closely with the Walsh Administration here in Boston to ensure that a the arts, cultural, and creative communities are a full and equal partner in the city's business.

To learn more about us visit us online at MASS-creative.org, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MassCreative, or like us on Facebook!

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