Governor Deval Patrick made stops in western Massachusetts today announcing investments in cultural facilities.
Governor Patrick announced a tripling of the state’s investment in its Cultural Facilities Fund during a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations will be able to seek competitive grants from an annual total of $15 million for maintenance and new construction. State Representative Smitty Pignatelli of the 4th Berkshire District helped to lead the push to create the fund in 2006.
“Nobody wants to put their name on the handicapped bathrooms or the handicapped ramp,” Pignatelli said. “So we felt if we could partner with you to help raise those funds, and those dollar for dollar matches were critically important, and that you who are running the “culturals” could do what you do best. Do the programming to get people through the turnstiles.”
To receive a grant, an organization must show it can have the award amount matched through private investment.
“Having the imprimatur of the public saying ‘This is important to us. This economic, this cultural, this social impact is important to us,’ is its own incentive to encourage private investment,” said Patrick.
In June, the governor announced the distribution of more than $5 million in Cultural Facilities Fund Grants to support new capital projects. The round of grants included funding of more than $172,000 to the Rockwell Museum, $250,000 to both the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and the Berkshire Carousel in Lanesborough and more than $133,000 to the Northampton Academy of Music. Laurie Norton Moffatt is the CEO and Executive Director of the Rockwell Museum. She says the previous grant allowed the museum to open a replica of Norman Rockwell’s studio on the campus this past summer by making it wheelchair accessible. Moffat says museums and cultural facilities have more costs than a typical building.
“Not only do museums need to have air conditioning and heating to maintain a steady temperature to protect the artwork, but we also maintain a steady humidity,” explained Norton Moffatt.
The announcement marks the Fund’s largest annual amount. Governor Patrick says now is the right time to invest as the commonwealth’s bond rating is the highest in history and it has one of the largest rainy-day funds in the country.
“We, in our time, must do what we can to leave things better for those who come behind us,” Patrick said. “Has been, I think, leaking out of American government for a long, long time and what we, working with the Legislature, have been working so hard to restore. The Cultural Facilities Fund should be seen in that context.”
Since 2007, the Cultural Facilities Fund has distributed nearly 400 grants totaling $55 million to more than 260 cultural organizations to support capital projects. According to a survey by the Massachusetts Cultural Council taken in November 2012, grantee organizations employed more than 14,800 construction-related workers as well as creating nearly 1,500 permanent jobs as a result of the state-funded projects. Anita Walker is the Council’s Executive Director.
“Every single person who walks through the door of this museum can say ‘This is mine. I own a piece of this,” Walker said. “Shouldn’t our greatest treasures in Massachusetts belong to everybody? This investment insures that it does.”