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Gold Star Awards

The MCC Gold Star Awards, established in 2001, recognize exemplary cultural programs funded by local cultural councils (LCCs) throughout the state. These awards offer every LCC, large or small, the opportunity to gain extra recognition for their vital contributions to their communities. The MCC honors the award-winning projects at the LCC statewide assembly every other year. In the alternating years when there is no statewide event, a series of local award ceremonies are held in partnership with the nominating LCCs across the Commonwealth with local cultural councils, community members, municipal officials, state legislators, and the public.

Honoring Gold Star Award winning programs helps LCCs gain the attention of future applicants and council members, improve local efforts to advocate for the arts, increase community pride, and provide an occasion for extra media coverage.Amesbury's Open Air Sculpture Show

Be sure to take advantage of this exciting opportunity by nominating an outstanding project.

About the Gold Star Program

In fiscal year 2015, MCC honored three outstanding programs in Arlington, Easthampton, and Holyoke that emphasize education, cultural diversity and community building. These projects received funding ranging from $600 to $1,500. The community populations served ranged from 16,000 ato 42,000 citizens.

Many of these programs highlighted unique characteristics of their community, such as the Luminarium Dance Company's "Night at the Tower" funded by the Arlington Cultural Council which featured more than 75 images of Arlington from the Arlington Center for the Arts' collection projected onto the Arlington Watertower - a local historic landmark. In Easthampton, for the monthly Unbuttoned event, a mix of local professional poets and storytellers perform with community members in a currated open mic night. Finally, in Holyoke, the Latin Jazz Festival features live Latin jazz and salsa music performances by regional and local performers that highlight a unique part of Holyoke's diverse cultural community.

Read about Gold Star projects that have embodied several of these characteristics:


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Award Criteria

  1. Gold Star projects must promote excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences.
    • Excellence : Features outstanding or exemplary works1 in the arts, humanities or sciences.
    • Access : Exposes under-served2 constituencies to the arts, humanities, or sciences or provides a new experience in the arts, humanities or sciences to a particular audience3.
    • Education : Provides quality arts /humanities /science educational experience4 to children or adults.
    • Diversity : Highlights a unique quality or the diverse character5 of the community.
  2. Projects nominated for a Gold Star award must also satisfy three of the following attributes.
    • Mobilizes collaboration with community-based businesses, organizations, and/or residents.
    • Builds community6.
    • Leverages additional funding, services, goods and /or volunteerism.
    • Presents the arts, humanities or sciences in an innovative or unique way.
    • Participants have an active /involved role in the creation, process or experience of the program.
    • Contributes to the community's economic development, revitalization or sense of place.

1"Exemplary Works" are commendable; serve as a desirable model; represent the best of their kind; are deserving of imitation.

2The Massachusetts Office of Affirmative Action currently designates the following as underserved: African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans, Native Americans, people with disabilities, Vietnam-era veterans, and women. The MCC also considers low-income and rural communities, as well as citizens over 65-years-old, as underserved populations.

3 For example, the project introduces a form of art to a group of people for the first time, introduces a cultural tradition or art form to another culture, helps build an audience for a specific form of art, humanities, or interpretive science, or provides participants an opportunity to experience a specific form or arts, humanities or science they may not have had otherwise.

4For example, the artist has a record of high-quality programs, the artist has demonstrated an ability to respond creatively to unique school needs, program planning has involved parents, community members, teachers, the principal and the artist, program clearly articulates the project goals, program provides professional development for teachers, the program content is connected to the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, program includes reasonable evaluation plan.

5"Unique quality" and "diverse character" can refer to the physical or historical identity of a place (i.e. a city's historical connection to shoe making, a celebrated town founder, the prominent role of a river in shaping a community) as well as the unique cultural heritage of its residents (i.e. a celebration of Cambodian history and culture, a program featuring traditional Indian dance, an Irish festival).

6For example, the project fosters community pride, highlights the uniqueness of a community, spotlights residents of a community, engages people in community life, builds common ground among people, provides sense of celebration.

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Nominate a Project

  • Deadline for nominations: Friday, November 6, 2015
  • Projects must have taken place between November 1, 2014 and October 31, 2015.
  • Projects that received a Gold Star award in previous years are ineligible
  • One nomination per council

To nominate a project for Gold Star Award, please fill out the nomination form. Completed nominations should be sent to, or mailed to:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Attn: Gold Star Awards
10 St. James Ave. 3rd floor
Boston, MA 02116

For questions or more information about the Gold Star Awards, please contact Jennifer Atwood.

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