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Commission Suggests $575 Million In COVID Relief Funds Go To Culture And Tourism

Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Kenneth C. Zirkel
Wikimedia Commons
Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts lawmakers and arts industry leaders are recommending $575 million in new federal money go to the state's arts and culture sector, to help it rebound after being economically devastated by the pandemic. 

The state has received more than $5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, known as ARPA. Governor Charlie Baker has recommended $100 million be spent on arts and tourism.

The COVID-19 Cultural Impact Commission, which met Tuesday to approve its report, wants state lawmakers to allocate almost six times that amount for museums, venues and individual artists.  

The Baker Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Rep. Carole Fiola from Bristol said when the commission first came together, everyone recognized the arts had been decimated by the pandemic.  

“Of course, with the windfall of ARPA funds, there is no better time to be looking for some investment into this economic engine,” Fiola said Tuesday.

A Mass Cultural Council report estimated that arts organizations lost $588 million in revenue over the first year of the pandemic, impacting 30,000 jobs 

The panel's report suggests directing slightly more than half of its $575 million dollar request toward grants that would help cultural institutions navigate reopening and recovery.

As State House News Service reported this week, the remainder of the funds would go toward workforce and community development, a marketing campaign to reinvigorate interest in arts events, and grants that organizations could use to improve facilities or expand virtual programming options.

The group also suggested the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism fund a $40 million, four-year marketing campaign to promote arts and cultural destinations, including less-popular or well-known attractions.

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