Will Call #46 — Governor Slashes Arts Funding, Part 1 with Matt Wilson of MASSCreative

Governor Baker's veto hacks approximately fifty five percent from the FY2017 budget of the Massachusetts Cultural Council

Governor Baker’s veto hacks approximately fifty five percent from the FY2017 budget of the Massachusetts Cultural Council

Governor Charlie Baker issued a budget veto on July 8 that would slash funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) by more than half. The cut would exceed the value of MCC’s two largest grant programs, reducing state cultural funding to levels not seen since 1994.

In this episode, we speak with Matt Wilson, exectuive director of MASSCreative, about the precarious fate of arts, culture, science, and humanities programs across the state. Wilson points out impacts of the arts on communities way beyond the aesthetic. Programs supported by the MCC have been shown to fuel the economy, reverse urban blight, and provide alternatives to self-destructive behaviors for youth.

Former Governor. Deval Patrick (left) with MASSCreative executive director Matt Wilson on July 06, 2014 at Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield announcing that he would allocate $15 million to the state’s Cultural Facilities Fund (photo courtesty mass-creative.org).

Former Governor. Deval Patrick (left) with MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson on July 06, 2014 at Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield announcing that he would allocate $15 million to the state’s Cultural Facilities Fund (photo courtesty MASSCreative via mass-creative.org).

Governor Charlie Baker issued a budget veto July 8 that would slash funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) by more than half. The cut would exceed the value of MCC’s two largest grant programs, reducing state cultural funding to levels not seen since 1994.

Read the MCC’s Fiscal 2017 Budget request, with a detailed breakdown of expenitures.

Download (PDF, 55KB)

On July 1, the Legislature approved a state budget for FY17 that included $14 million in funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences via MCC. The veto would reduce that by $7.7 million, to $6.5 million. That funding level would put Massachusetts in league with states such as Nebraska and South Dakota in per capita support for arts and culture. The proposed cut of $7.7 million was included in a larger set of $256 million in vetoes.

“If it stands, this budget would cut many of our core grant programs to the bone,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, “and likely force us to eliminate some programs entirely. It would cost jobs in our nonprofits, choke off revenue from cultural tourism, and close arts education opportunities for thousands of kids in schools and youth programs across the state.”

MCC’s two largest grant programs are its Cultural Investment Portfolio, providing core operating support for 384 nonprofits, at $4.6 million in the last fiscal year; and $3 million for 329 Local Cultural Councils, which support more than 6,000 public programs statewide.

MCC will work with MASSCreative, Mass Humanities, the Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and advocates statewide to encourage members of the House and Senate to override the veto when they consider responses to the Governor’s actions this week. Stay tuned for updates as the process unfolds.

Matthew Wilson, MASSCreative Executive Director

Hired as MASSCreative’s first Executive Director in March of 2012, Matt directs the advocacy campaigns and organizational development for the organization. For 30 years, he has run campaigns and organized volunteers and communities for the public interest on a local, state, national level.

In 2011, Wilson directed environmentalist and social entrepreneur Bob Massie’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Previously he coordinated Health Care for All’s campaign to monitor the takeover of the nonprofit Caritas Hospitals by a for profit private equity firm.

As the National Director of the field staff for MoveOn.org from 2005-2006, Matt helped develop and implement the strategy behind MoveOn.org’s successful 2006 Call for Change, which recruited and trained more than 100,000 volunteers in 60 swing Congressional and Senate districts.

As the Founder and Director of Toxics Action Center from 1989 to 2005, Wilson assisted more than 300 neighborhood groups address toxic pollution issues in their communities. He grew the organization from one staffer working in Massachusetts to a New England-wide organization with 11 staff.

Wilson graduated from Dartmouth College in 1983 and also earned a Masters of Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2008.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council

MCC 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 vitality of our communities. MCC pursues this mission through grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.

MCC’s FY16 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. CFF is supported separately via the state’s capital budget.

About MASSCreative

MASSCreative works with creative leaders, working artists, arts educators and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and attention necessary to build vibrant, connected, and creative communities. In addition to their website, you can find them on Twitter and Facebook

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