NASAA Notes: August 2021

August 3, 2021

Massachusetts: Recovery Recommendations

Calpulli Mexican Dance performs at Jacob’s Pillow. Photo by Hayim Heron

In January 2021, the state of Massachusetts enacted legislation establishing the Massachusetts COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission—a special legislative commission charged with developing strategies for the recovery, growth and vitality of the creative sector in the commonwealth. Cochaired by state Sen. Ed Kennedy and state Rep. Carole Fiola, the commission included representation from the Mass Cultural Council state arts agency and the Mass Creative advocacy group as well as artists, arts educators, museums, cultural districts and community development leaders.

The COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission considered how best to rebuild the industry while also addressing the long-term vulnerabilities of the arts sector. Committee members reviewed data on the state’s creative industries (which supported 73,000 full-time jobs and generated more than $2.2 billion in spending prior to the pandemic) as well as the effects of COVID-19 on the state’s creative sector: $558 million in lost revenue for cultural organizations, $30 million in lost income for independent artists and 30,009 jobs that were cut back while cultural activities were suspended. The task force also convened public hearings to receive input from local arts leaders and requested expert testimony from marketing, tourism and cultural policy specialists, including NASAA.

The commission ultimately released the COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission Legislative Report & Recommendations. This comprehensive suite of policy strategies urges the state to devote $575 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to the recovery of the creative and cultural sector. Key allocations would include:

  • $375 million for the Mass Cultural Council to deploy to stabilize the sector and help artists and cultural organizations rebuild and reopen;
  • $40 million for a statewide marketing campaign to be led by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism in collaboration with the arts field;
  • $60 million in cultural infrastructure upgrades to strengthen the state’s cultural venues and tourism related facilities;
  • $100 million for workforce and community development efforts that Mass Cultural Council would lead to bolster youth programs, creative business development strategies, artist live/work space initiatives and creative placemaking in historically underserved communities.

The report further recommends that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education allocate a portion of its federal relief funding to arts education programs and the safe reopening of arts spaces in public schools. Beyond the allocation of federal relief dollars, the commission suggested additional actions to strengthen Massachusetts through the arts, such as these:

  • Form a special commission to focus on issues of diversity, equity, access and inclusion within arts and cultural funding.
  • Increase state investments in the Mass Cultural Council and the Cultural Facilities Fund.
  • Invest $50 million to launch a workforce program that hires creative workers to facilitate projects addressing community cohesion, civic engagement, main street revitalization and public health disparities.

For more information on the strategies recommended by the commission, contact Mass Cultural Council Public Affairs Director Bethann Steiner.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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