A call to action: Time is of the essence for arts & culture policy

A gathering tour by the MASSCreative
Presented by MASSCreative

Friday, November 18, 2022
MASSCreative on Facebook

Article by Afrikah Smith

ONLINE — After the winning victory of elected State Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll in the Massachusetts midterm election, will the state’s arts & culture sector be ready to advocate for policy and legislation in January 2023?

MASSCreative has taken action in touring around the state, both virtually and in-person, to hear from institutions, cultural leaders, creative advocates, and artists about the top priorities from the sector. Geared towards a conversation between MASSCreative staff and attendees, the gatherings tour offers the opportunity for all to connect and discuss the ways that federal, state, and local governments can push and ensure the sector to become stronger, more equitable, and better funded.

In their most recent virtual gathering held on November 18th, MASSCreative presented the current challenges faced by the arts and culture sector and offered potential solutions for MASSCreative to advocate for in the coming year. Some ideas introduced by MASSCreative included new tax credit and legislative policies that could incentivize building more accessible spaces for creatives, public and state funding, and create a foundation for creatives recovering from the impact of the pandemic. 

In addition to this conversation, MASSCreative is making sure Massachusetts artists are able to have their input, suggestions, and concerns addressed and included. While Lt. Governor-elect Driscoll has voiced her support for arts and culture in Massachusetts, with Governor-elect Healey onboard, it’s hard to say what’s in the works as they begin their transition with less than 41 days until their appointment.

During her summer campaign run, Driscoll said to the Framingham Source that she viewed arts and culture as:

 “…an industry that we’re going to need to support coming out of COVID, or this next phase of COVID. Our creatives were hard hit from workforce initiatives to supporting events just like this one [an art pop-up at the downtown common sponsored by Downtown Framingham Inc.], bringing people downtown, celebrating members of the creative economy who are contributing back to their communities, and really adding to our quality of life.”

“I know there’s some programs we can work on whether it’s downtown support systems but really we need support for artists themselves, and there’s a whole creative arts platform we put out, and we’re looking forward to doing more in that space.”

Driscoll had doubled down on her statement at the Create the Vote Massachusetts Forum in August, MASSCreative’s moderated conversation with former candidates running for Lieutenant Governor.

With the race to prepare and take action in time for the New Year and Healey and Driscoll’s effective date in office, the gatherings remind us that we must be ready to act and ensure the changes we wish to see. With fourteen named regional gathering partners in their tour, MASSCreative is traveling around the state to work towards including all voices outside of the Greater Boston area in arts & culture policy. 

After experiencing the rippling impact of COVID-19, the call to action is clear to support the revitalization and sustainability of the arts and culture workforce, and the areas heavily affected by it: public funding, creative and educational youth development, and cost of living. A new governor presents the arts community a shining opportunity to bring a foundation for the state’s arts and culture to once again thrive.

We will not know what doors of opportunity are possible to create a better, more equitable sector in collaboration with state officials who are ready to make pivotal change without the input of Massachusetts’ artists, creatives, administrators, and cultural institutions.

To join the ongoing dialogue, sign up for MASSCreative’s upcoming Arts & Culture Policy Input Gatherings near you, available in-person and online (with closed captioning available). 

Unable to attend? Your voice still matters! MASSCreative has created an input survey for everyone to share their opinions.

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