Staff from MAPC’s Arts and Culture division joined five other organizations on Wednesday, Jan. 16 to help the Massachusetts Legislature’s Cultural Caucus kick off its efforts for this legislative session. Caucus chairs Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Mary Keefe and vice-chairs Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. Sarah Peake invited MAPC, along with the Mass Cultural Council, MASSCreative, Massachusetts Artist Leaders Coalition, Mass Humanities, and Arts|Learning, to share our work promoting arts and culture in Massachusetts.
The goal of the briefing, said Cyr, was to provide a roadmap for first-term legislators on how to be a cultural advocate in their district. “Our goal is to get momentum around culture as integral to the fabric of the Commonwealth,” he said. “We need to be stepping up and supporting it in a meaningful way.”
MAPC Arts and Culture Manager Jenn Erickson, Senior Arts and Culture Planner Annis Sengupta, and Government Affairs Specialist Diego Huezo attended to discuss the value of arts and culture in society: “Investing in arts and culture can advance a range of planning and community development priorities, including social cohesion and public heath,” said Erickson, highlighting MAPC’s work with the City of Everett – where we partnered to create a sculptural community garden as part of a Community Food Assessment.
MAPC’s Arts & Culture team is partnering with other cities and towns to promote arts and culture throughout the region – both by creating policy and planning conditions to enable arts and culture to thrive, and by adding an arts component to other work. Economic and community development, downtown revitalization, housing, public health, transportation: it can all be enhanced through arts and culture work, and MAPC is making those connections.
Erickson profiled MAPC’s robust research and data expertise and our ability to generate data and maps for legislators on arts and cultural assets and the creative economy in the Commonwealth, which can build legislators’ knowledge of arts and culture’s impact and support their legislative efforts around cultural policy. We have also created the Arts & Planning Toolkit with municipal and state partners to provide a free resource for case studies, definitions, and best practices.
She turned the presentation over to Annis Sengupta, who emphasized the need to build broad-based policy and funding support for arts in Massachusetts. Sengupta highlighted learnings from the Arts & Culture Learning Journey to Seattle coordinated by MAPC. Erickson ended by thanking Caucus leadership and the other organizations for their partnership and support.
Legislative leadership made it clear that arts and culture is a priority for them.
“We can be powerful supporters of culture and our cultural institutions, whether we understand culture as an economic development tool or as food for the soul,” said Peake.
“Culture is who we are,” said Hinds. “It goes into every aspect of society.”