(Image: Sarah Slavick, Mass Cultural Council Painting Fellow, ’06 )

The Mass Cultural Council, in partnership with the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, has launched the Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program, which offers grant assistance to Massachusetts nonprofit cultural organizations negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This new $10 million initiative is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Economic Recovery Plan.

$2 million from the fund will be dedicated to supporting small cultural nonprofits, in alignment with the FY20 COVID supplemental budget.

Governor Charlie Baker said “The Commonwealth’s cultural institutions are a vital component of our identify and this grant program arrives at a crucial time for those organizations that have suffered significantly as a result of the pandemic. I’m pleased we can target these resources toward these necessary institutions as we continue working to ensure they survive and thrive long into the future.”

Cultural organizations have suffered staggering economic loss in recent months because of the COVID-19 public health crisis with a reported $484 million in lost revenue and more than 30,000 cultural jobs impacted. The Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program will efficiently distribute funds to organizations that urgently need them. The deadline to apply for funding is Friday, December 11, 2020; grant awards will be distributed early in calendar year 2021.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said, “The cultural sector has a strong history of enriching the lives of Massachusetts residents through an approach that promotes education, inclusion, and diversity. Recognizing the importance of this sector’s mission, this grant program will allow us to focus our support for these organizations and institutions so they can continue to play a significant role in our daily lives.”

Mass Cultural Council Acting Executive Director David T. Slatery said,  “We are so pleased with this collaboration with the Baker-Polito Administration. Our cultural sector has been financially devastated by the pandemic. This vital new program will provide urgently needed relief to cultural organizations across the Commonwealth. We know that the cultural sector must be completely restored for the Commonwealth’s economy to fully recovery.”

Since March, 898 cultural organizations have responded to Mass Cultural Council’s four COVID economic impact surveys. These organizations collectively identify more than $116.8 million in COVID-related capital improvements and non-capital recovery strategies necessary to reopen and safely reengage with the public. Sixty-two percent of these organizations have made the difficult decision to layoff or furlough employees or reduce their wages and/or hours – choices that have impacted 30,616 cultural employees statewide.

Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said, “I’m grateful to the Mass Cultural Council for their collaborative efforts to support this vital sector. Not only are these institutions vital to our culture and history, they also generate commerce in key areas across the Commonwealth, they attract visitors from out of state, and the industry employs a large workforce with skillsets that are unique and specialized.”

The Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program will grant cultural organizations up to $100,000, or three months of supported operating expenses. On an extremely limited basis, Mass Cultural Council and EOHED reserve the right to award a small number grants worth up to $500,000 for organizations experiencing extraordinary losses. An organization must demonstrate extraordinary need and show that they face remarkable challenges that threaten its viability for this higher award amount to be considered.

Program guidelines, eligibility requirements, and the grant application for the Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program are available online.