Photo: The Robert Bennet Forbes House Museum in Milton received a grant to restore its Barn and Carriage House buildings

This week, MassDevelopment and Mass Cultural Council, two state agencies that jointly administer the Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), announce the 94 recipients of the FY23 CFF grant round, investing a total of $7,661,000 into cultural facilities and projects throughout the Commonwealth.

“Massachusetts is fortunate to be home to many museums, theaters, and other arts and culture-based destinations, and the Cultural Facilities Fund provides an important avenue for the Commonwealth to co-invest in their upkeep and expansion,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “These institutions are core to our economy – driving tourism, creating jobs, and educating and inspiring countless visitors. MassDevelopment is proud to administer this fund together with the Mass Cultural Council, and thanks the Healey-Driscoll Administration and Legislature for their support.”

The CFF provides capital and planning grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges, and municipalities that own or operate facilities primarily focused on the arts, humanities, and sciences. CFF awards invest in the acquisition, design, repair, renovation, expansion, and construction of nonprofit and municipal cultural facilities. All CFF awards are subject to a 1:1 matching requirement.

Funded annually through the Governor’s Capital Spending Plan, this round of CFF grants is supported by a $10 million capital bond appropriation approved in 2022. The Healey-Driscoll Administration has also proposed a $10 million appropriation in its second supplemental budget to support an additional round of the program.

“The Cultural Facilities Fund is such a wonderful partnership – created by the Legislature, funded annually by the Administration, and jointly managed by Mass Cultural Council and MassDevelopment – all parties working together to ensure that cultural infrastructure has a public source for maintenance and support in Massachusetts,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “These facilities are an important part of the Commonwealth’s creative and cultural sector, hosting public events, meetings, concerts, and classes, allowing creatives to engage with members, visitors, and audiences. It’s so important – for safety, for access, and for our state economy – to invest in and take good care of these gathering places, so that we can all engage and partake in the power of culture.”

There are three types of awards available through the Cultural Facilities Fund:

  1. Capital Grants, which support the acquisition, design, construction, repair, renovation, rehabilitation or other capital improvements or deferred maintenance of a cultural facility.
  2. Feasibility & Technical Assistance Grants, for costs and expenses related to overall planning and feasibility for a proposed eligible project.
  3. Systems Replacement Plan Grants (SRP), a specific type of Feasibility and Technical Assistance Grant specifically designed for organizations without full-time maintenance staff. The SRP is a 20-year capital needs assessment of the building and its mechanical systems.

In this 15th grant round, a total of 179 applications were received: 137 proposals for capital projects; 31 for Feasibility and Technical Assistance grants; and 11 for SRP grants.

Seventy-six, or 42% of these applications were submitted by first-time applicants to Mass Cultural Council, and 16, or 9% of the applications were submitted by organizations who self-identify as BIPOC-centered organizations.

A total of 94 awards worth $7,661,000 was approved by a vote of the MassDevelopment Board of Directors on May 11, including:

  • 59 Capital Grants – totaling $6,894,000.
  • 25 Feasibility and Technical Assistance Grants – totaling $668,000.
  • 10 Systems Replacement Plan Grants – totaling $99,000.

“Mass Cultural Council has adopted an Agency-wide recruitment and outreach strategy to ensure creative and cultural sector stakeholders from every artistic discipline and community are aware of our resources,” said Bobbitt. “I am pleased to welcome these 76 new cultural organizations and hope they will continue to engage with our programming.

A complete list of the Cultural Facilities Fund grant recipients is available online.