Last Friday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a 20 percent funding increase that the state Legislature had approved for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, basically calling for the state arts agency to be level funded at $11.79 million for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

The Mass. Cultural Council announced Monday that it is working “with MassCreative, Mass Humanities, the Mass Artists Leaders Coalition, and allies statewide to encourage members of the House and Senate to override the veto when they consider veto overrides next week.”

The arts agency’s budget—which supports grants for individual artists, organizations, and school programs across the state—would have grown by some $2.3 million under the plan approved by the Legislature on July 8. (The arts agency had been approved for a $12 million budget at the start of the last fiscal year, but its budget was cut by some $200,000 in the middle of the year because of state budget deficits.) Baker’s veto is not a veto of the whole state budget, but calls for less spending in specific budget areas.

In particular, the arts groups’ challenge to Baker’s veto feels like a test for MassCreative, the arts advocacy nonprofit, which was founded primarily by the Mass. Cultural Council and Boston Foundation in 2012. (The Barr Foundation has since become a third major player behind the nonprofit.) MassCreative was prominent in the last Boston mayor’s race and governor’s race, most visibly by organizing candidate forums. But its main focus seems to be increasing state funding for the arts.

“I will work with the Massachusetts Cultural Council to ensure that it is receiving adequate funding to accomplish its mission,” Baker said in a MassCreative questionnaire from last October, one of the few public statements he made about the arts during last year’s campaign.

“We have built momentum over the past three years by increasing the state’s investment in the arts by 49 percent from $9.5 million to $14.16 million,” MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson said in a statement released Friday. “Even with the legislature’s generous increase, however, the state is still investing nearly half of what it allocated for the arts, cultural, and creative community more than 25 years ago. We remain grateful to state lawmakers and legislative leaders who recognized and understood the vital need to increase investment in the creative community by $2 million and we look forward to working with them to overturn Gov. Baker’s veto.”

Categories: Art News