Governor Baker Announces $9.3 Million in Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Awards

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Photo Caption: Governor Charlie Baker speaks at the Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home

Last week Governor Charlie Baker joined state and local officials and cultural leaders at the historic Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home in New Bedford to announce $9.3 million in new awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF). The grants are included in the Baker-Polito Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget Plan.

This new round of awards brings the total cultural investment to over $100 million since the fund was established ten years ago.

Governor Baker said that Massachusetts “shares a rich history and diverse culture that benefit residents and attract visitors from around the nation and the world.” He described the Mass Cultural Facilities Fund as “a tremendously powerful way for us to lend investments across the commonwealth for really important local endeavors and projects.”

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said the awards “help cities, towns and their nonprofit partners restore and preserve culturally and historically significant sites that provide educational opportunities to visitors and local families.”

“The Cultural Facilities Fund has delivered on its original mission to support the nonprofit arts, humanities, and sciences to create jobs and new economic opportunity in the Commonwealth,” said Jay Ash, secretary, Executive Housing and Economic Development, and chair of the Board of MassDevelopment, which unanimously approved the grants at its May 11 meeting.

“Today we celebrate a 10-year, public-private partnership that has strengthened one of our state’s greatest assets: its arts and cultural sector,” said Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. “We are deeply grateful to the Governor and Legislature for the sustained commitment to the Cultural Facilities Fund.”

Over $100 million in CFF awards since 2007 have supported 772 building projects in the nonprofit arts, sciences and humanities, with total development costs of $2.6 billion, driving cultural tourism, job growth, and community vitality in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Over ten years CFF-funded projects have supported 8,512 full time jobs and $492 million in wages, employed 23,778 architects, engineers, contractors, and construction workers, and created 2,092 new permanent jobs.

Led by the Waterfront Historic Area League and the New Bedford Port Society, the Seamen’s Bethel project restores and preserves two of the city’s most iconic buildings, honors New Bedford’s fishermen and enhances the Whaling National Historical Park, site of one of the most beloved passages from Herman Melville’s classic American novel, “Moby Dick,” as an international visitor destination.

The newly reopened historic Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners’ Home in the city’s Seaport Cultural District, had received a $440,000 matching CFF grant in 2014, and Governor Baker announced an additional $150,000 for the facility at the May 19 event.

MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said, “The Cultural Facilities Fund supports the Commonwealth’s priceless cultural and historical resources, which create jobs, draw thousands of visitors to Massachusetts, and grow the state’s creative economy.”

The new round of awards includes 61 capital grants totaling about $8.9 million and another 18 planning grants totaling nearly $400,000. Grants range from $7,000 to $300,000, and must be matched one-to-one from private and/or other public sources.

MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council jointly administer the CFF, and an Advisory Committee appointed by the Governor provides oversight to its operation. The grants announced on May 19 were supported with $10 million from the state’s fiscal year 2017 capital plan, authorized by the state Legislature and allocated by the Governor.

Learn more about the CFF here.