Cultural Funds Restored in Legislature’s Override Vote

COURTESY OF BARNSTABLE TOWN MANAGER'S OFFICE The Hyannis HyArts Artist Shanties will open for the season on Friday, May 15.

The Hyannis HyArts Artist Shanties are part of the town of Barnstable’s HyArts District, which is part of a state-designated cultural district supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

HYANNIS – Funding that Governor Charlie Baker took away from the Massachusetts Cultural Council has been restored through a legislative override of the governor’s veto.

The House and Senate voted yesterday to restore $2.3 million to the council’s budget. That puts the council’s budget at $14 million for the next fiscal year, up from just under $12 million last year.

The town of Barnstable is just one of the Cape Cod towns that has made good use of arts and culture grants handed down through the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Barnstable Town Manager Thomas Lynch said, “We’ve had a really good partnerships with the Massachusetts Cultural Council. It spurred additional events and additional focus on that arts and cultural community that we find is very important to us. Studies show visitors will choose places where they can have exposure to a variety of arts and cultural activities.”

Lynch added, “We do know that it has an impact on the economy in Barnstable.”

Last week, local legislators found out that Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the $2 million in additional funding for the commission, and local legislators in particular stepped into action to work toward an override.

State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown), who serves as chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, said lawmakers across the state were united in the effort.

“The legislators already have come together on this. There’s been a joint letter from legislators from across the commonwealth that has gone to both the speaker and the senate president,” she said earlier this week.

She said she took action right away.

“I, as soon as the veto message came out a little over a week ago, that afternoon hand-delivered a letter to the speakers office and the chair of house ways and means asking asking for us to take up a vote to override the governor’s veto, in effect restoring the funding,” she said.

A letter also came from the Cultural Caucus and signed by over 100 legislators. It was written by the Caucus Co-Chairs, Cape and Islands State Senator Dan Wolf of Harwich and Representative Smitty Pignatelli of Lenox. “It is imperative that we continue to provide the MCC with the necessary resources to continue the great work it does in the Commonwealth,” their letter stated.

Peake said she did not get a confirmation from the Beacon Hill leadership on whether the veto votes would be taken up this week but she was optimistic.

“I didn’t get a specific yes or no on whether Mass Cultural Council is among the 100 or so votes we’ll be taking in the next several days, but I’m hoping that it will be. It’s such critical funding,” she said.

As it turned out, the override vote on the arts and culture funding was taken up on Wednesday in the first day of override votes by the legislature.

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