Today Mass Cultural Council celebrated a historic $51,063,360 public investment into the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector by announcing the 5,218 recipients of two pandemic recovery grant programs at the Massachusetts State House.

Joined by 300+ grantees, legislators, community leaders, and cultural sector partners, Mass Cultural Council recognized the 1,218 cultural organizations and 4,000 artists, creatives, culture bearers, and gig workers across Massachusetts who received awards from the one-time Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Organizations and Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Individuals programs.

“This is the largest grant announcement Mass Cultural Council has ever made,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “It is with great pleasure and pride that we celebrate more than $51 million in pandemic recovery monies being equitably distributed throughout the creative and cultural sector today. These awards will help propel the sector forward economically and chart the recipients’ paths towards growth.”

Mass Cultural Council, an independent state arts agency, is charged with bolstering the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector. The Agency’s efforts advance economic vitality, support transformational change; and celebrate, preserve, and inspire creativity across all Massachusetts communities.

In December 2021 a $4 billion pandemic recovery package was approved by the Legislature and signed into law. This Act, Ch. 102 of 2021, directed Mass Cultural Council to develop and administer grant programs to assist cultural organizations and artists recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and operate more efficiently moving forward. Mass Cultural Council received $60.1 million in surplus state revenue funds to support this effort.*

Developing guidelines and securing the approval of the Agency’s governing body to launch two new programs took five months, while conducting deliberate outreach and recruitment efforts to engage with new applicants and under-resourced communities was a major staff undertaking that began in June 2022 and continued throughout the application period.

“Planning, designing, launching, recruiting, and administering these two programs was an ‘all hands-on deck’ undertaking,” said Bobbitt. “I am so proud of our team for pulling together to make these programs a success while still working on our slate of annual programs and services as well.”

Mass Cultural Council anticipates that by the end of Fiscal Year 2023 approximately 7,000 awards will be approved across all Agency programs, totaling nearly $100 million in grants supporting the Massachusetts creative and cultural sector.

Many partners joined Mass Cultural Council at the State House today to celebrate this historic state investment into the creative and cultural sector. Without their leadership and advocacy these state funds may not have been secured.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development worked closely with Mass Cultural Council on ways to support individual artists and cultural organizations. This historic $51 million investment will continue to support artists and cultural organizations within the Commonwealth as we transition to a post-pandemic world,” said State Senator Ed Kennedy (D- Lowell).

Kennedy served as the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development during the 2021-2022 legislative session and led the effort in the Massachusetts Senate to secure these recovery funds.

“The Cultural Sector Recovery Funds being announced today will provide creative workers and cultural organizations with much-needed funds thanks to the work of Mass Cultural Council and the Legislature. These well-deserving organizations and individuals continue to bolster the creative spirit and energy of the Commonwealth and provide so much to their communities through their work. I look forward to the bright future ahead for the creative economy here in Massachusetts,” said State Representative Carole Fiola (D- Fall River).

Fiola served as the House chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development during the 2021-2022 legislative session and led the effort in the House of Representatives to secure these recovery funds.

“Art and culture are not a luxury, but a lifeline that connects and inspires individuals of all backgrounds and identities. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these grants will play a crucial role in both the economic recovery and the preservation of our talented culture and arts sector,” said State Representative Dylan Fernandes (D- Falmouth).

Fernandes served as the House vice chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development during the 2021-2022 legislative session and is a major arts and cultural champion in the House of Representatives.