Last week, the Senate Ways and Means Committee made a bold statement about the importance of arts and culture to a vibrant, healthy, and equitable Commonwealth by recommending to fund the Massachusetts Cultural Council at $16.5 million. With this, we have the rare opportunity to use the budget process to further advance support for public art in Massachusetts.
Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, Senator Eric Lesser (D-East Longmeadow) filed Amendment #694, to establish the Massachusetts Public Art Program (MPAP). This amendment calls for the establishment of a state program to include public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. The Senate began deliberations on budget amendments this morning, so your State Senator needs to hear from you TODAY.
The public spaces, buildings, infrastructure, and institutions of the Commonwealth provide the backbone of its communities. These built environments physically shape how residents come together and interact with one another and their government. DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln; the 46-foot tall kinetic sculpture at Porter Square station in Cambridge; and Boston’s Frog Pond on the Common stand as examples of the ways functionality, accessibility, authenticity, and even whimsy can be incorporated into design so that our use of the outdoors, public transportation, and public space is enhanced.
Modelled on the nation’s oldest state public art program in Hawaii, the Massachusetts Public Art Program, or MPAP, would create a state program dedicated to the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. In doing so, Massachusetts would join every other New England state, along with 23 others, that invest in public art programs. Public art projects such as the mural on the Route 9 railroad bridge entering Northampton; the Chinatown Gate at the corner of Beach Street and Surface Road in Boston; and the massive, 60-sqaure-foot mural outside Hanover Theatre in Worcester invigorate and excite communities and promote engagement with the Commonwealth’s civic infrastructure.
We are fortunate to be in a moment where political leaders are standing up in support of the necessary role the arts play in Massachusetts. Let’s stand up with them to build the vibrant, healthy, and equitable Massachusetts we all deserve.