Commission considers $ 600 million shake up for state’s cultural sector | New

Panel of lawmakers and industry leaders set to recommend Massachusetts spend $ 600 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help arts and culture sector recover from devastation economic during the coronavirus pandemic.

With nearly $ 5 billion in stimulus funds in the state’s pockets, the COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission wants Beacon Hill to use a large portion to stabilize museums, performance venues, galleries, individual artists and more and to revitalize public interest in the activities that supporters say conduct major economic activity.

The panel’s draft report suggests directing just over half of its application towards grants that would help cultural institutions navigate reopening and recovery. The remainder would go to workforce and community development, a marketing campaign to rekindle interest in arts events, and grants that organizations could use to improve facilities or expand programming options. Virtual.

The commissioners wrote in their draft that the money, derived from a federal law known as ARPA, presents itself as “a beacon of light at the end of a long dark tunnel”.

“Although many grant and loan options were made available, federal funds were not distributed at a rate institutions needed it,” the commission wrote. “The difficult application process and slow delivery have left businesses frustrated with nowhere to turn. Commonwealth organizations need this funding now.

In the commission’s vision, the $ 600 million would be distributed over a four-year period.

The largest amount, $ 325 million, would come in the form of grants to support the COVID-19 recovery and reopening, of which $ 75 million is available for for-profit sites, $ 100 million for profit organizations. nonprofit, $ 100 million for museums, visual arts and cultural heritage, and $ 50 million for individual practicing artists.

An additional $ 100 million would be spent on youth education and community or workforce development. Half of that would fund subsidized arts programs for children and adolescents in the state, $ 25 million would go to grants administered by the Mass Culture Council to “help cultural organizations and artists operate more effectively and to prosper professionally ”, and $ 25 million would support public and local art. incentives.

Lawmakers and industry leaders on the panel requested $ 60 million from ARPA to help arts and culture organizations improve their infrastructure and equipment, expanding to online programming or expanding existing facilities .

The group also suggested that the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism fund a four-year, $ 40 million marketing campaign to promote arts and culture destinations, including less popular or well-known attractions.

Citing state data, the panel said tourism in Massachusetts generates $ 1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue each year and nearly $ 23 billion in travel-related spending that supports the economy and 149,000 jobs in Bay State. In 2019, tourism accounted for about 2.5% of the state’s gross domestic product, the commission said.

“The creative and cultural sector stimulates tourism in our communities and leads to economic activity and major investments in our towns and villages through its influence on restaurants, hotels and other places nearby,” the members wrote. “The economic impact of the prolonged closure of the creative and cultural sector will have lasting impacts in the hospitality and tourism sectors.”

Arts and cultural organizations have been hit hard by forced closures and changing consumption habits due to COVID-19. A Mass Cultural Council report estimated that these organizations collectively felt a loss of revenue of $ 588 million in the first year of the pandemic, impacting 30,000 jobs.

Lawmakers haven’t decided how to use most of the $ 5.3 billion the state government received in ARPA money. The House and Senate rejected Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to spend $ 2.8 billion on housing, workforce development and other issues, then injected around $ 4.89 billion in a fund that legislative leaders say they will distribute after a public hearing process.

The Cultural Impact Commission, chaired by Representative Carole Fiola, from Fall River, and Senator Edward Kennedy, from Lowell, will meet today to vote on the final report.

At a meeting on Monday to review the 46-page draft, commissioners broadly welcomed its findings and proposed small language adjustments or called for larger follow-up studies on issues such as racial equity in the creative sector.


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