Arts leaders from across Massachusetts will gather at the Norman Rockwell Museum
Friday, Sept. 18 with Congressman John Olver to highlight the arts sector's role in the U.S. economic recovery effort. Olver will formally announce the release of more than $1.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to non-profit arts organizations across Massachusetts. The stimulus funds come from a $50 million ARRA appropriation to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). ARRA funds were then made available to Massachusetts arts organizations via separate programs administered by the NEA, the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), and the New England Foundation for the Arts. A full list of arts stimulus grants is below. The announcement begins at 1 p.m.
"The arts sector is a vital contributor to the economic life of Western Massachusetts, and a major component of the creative economy statewide," said Olver. "These grants will help preserve jobs in this sector while also ensuring that our arts organizations continue to provide public programs that enrich our communities and educate our young people."
Congressman Olver (D-MA 1st District) is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. Joining him for the announcement will be Mass. State Representatives Smitty Pignatelli of Lenox and Rosemary Sandlin of Agawam- members of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development- along with NEA Director of Dance Douglas Sonntag, MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, and Norman Rockwell Museum CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. Other participants include state Reps. Dan Bosley of North Adams and Chris Speranzo of Pittsfield, MCC Board members Ira Lapidus and Ronald Feldman of Williamstown, local cultural council members from Western Mass., and officials from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and Berkshire Creative.
Massachusetts cultural nonprofits provide nearly 37,000 jobs and have a total economic impact of over $4.2 billion. But the economic downturn has hurt this dynamic sector: A recent MCC survey of arts organizations that receive state funding found that nearly half have laid off at least one worker since the start of the current recession. Many others are reducing salaries and work hours, and instituting hiring freezes. In the broader nonprofit sector of Greater Boston, more than 4 in 10 organizations are reducing staff or salaries, according to a recent report by the Boston Foundation.
"The inclusion of the arts in ARRA was a welcome acknowledgement that the creative sector is an important part of our economy, and will be an important part of our recovery," said Walker. "That could not have happened without supporters like Congressman Olver, and we are deeply grateful for that support."
"Creative workers are a backbone of the Berkshire County economy and the stimulus funds provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and National Endowment for the Arts will help sustain employment and drive economic recovery. We are grateful for Congressman Olver's leadership in recognizing the importance of the creative sector which drives 25% of the workforce of the Berkshires," added Laurie Norton Moffatt, CEO/Director of Norman Rockwell Museum and co-founder Berkshire Creative Economy Council.