In Massachusetts, public funding for the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences is provided through a central agency, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and a network of local cultural councils that serve every city and town in the state.
About the MCC
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) was formed in 1990 through the merger of two previously separate agencies, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities and the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council.
The MCC is funded by appropriations from the state Legislature and from the National Endowment for the Arts. Funds are distributed through two channels:
- Direct grants to individuals and organizations, available through statewide competitive grant processes.
- Distributions to local councils, which then regrant funds to individuals and organizations in their communities.
The mission of the MCC and its local cultural council partners is "to promote excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and to contribute to the economic vitality of our communities."
The LCC Program is one of several programs administered by the MCC. The MCC's other program areas include: operational and capital support for organizations; education, including school events, residencies and work with at-risk youth; cultural economic development; and individual support for artists. A complete listing of MCC grant programs and services is available online.
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About the LCC Program
The MCC's Local Cultural Council Program distributes funds to local and regional cultural councils, which then regrant funds to arts, humanities, and interpretive science projects in their own communities. The program started in 1980 under the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council. Read more about key dates in the program's history.
There are currently 329 local and regional councils that represent all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. This extensive grassroots system of public support for community cultural programs is unmatched anywhere in the United States. LCCs are made up of volunteers who are appointed by the community's chief elected official. There are currently more than 2,400 volunteers serving statewide. Each LCC works to fund cultural projects that benefit its community or region to the greatest possible extent.
Because councils administer public dollars, LCCs play an especially important role in ensuring that cultural opportunities are made accessible to all segments of their communities. The MCC and its LCC partners are committed to access not only as a matter of state and federal laws, but also as a policy designed to encourage participation of all segments of the Commonwealth's population in MCC-funded programs. This includes but is not limited to all racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and senior citizens, as well as low-income, inner-city and rural populations.
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Local Cultural Council Allocations
The amount of money allocated to each community is determined by using one of the state's local aid formulas established by the legislature. The formula is based on population and equalized property values in order to provide low-income communities with relatively larger allocations. Bigger communities get bigger distributions, but greater weight is given to needier communities. A minimum funding level - which affects more than half the LCCs - is set in order to insure that the smaller communities receive a significant amount of money.
Allocations come from the state budget that is developed each year by the governor, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The budget is usually settled in July for the new fiscal year which runs from July 1 to June 30. Then the MCC board allocates the budget it receives among the agency's various programs. By early September, the MCC sends written notification to each council of its exact allocation for the upcoming grant cycle.
In order to stay up to date on the budget process, members can:
- Join the MCC email list.
- Look for updates on the MCC web sites or ask the council's MCC staff contact.
- Check local television, radio and newspapers for the announcement of state budget approval.
Don't wait to find out the council's exact allocation amount before publicizing the availability of funds. Promotion really needs to start in August (and even as early as June before school ends) for applicants to adequately develop projects and prepare good applications. Because official MCC notification comes in late August, consider publishing the previous allocation and the average range of awards the council typically makes.
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