Performing Arts Centers Receive Gaming Mitigation Grants

HYANNIS – The Mass Cultural Council has announced recipients of the first round of Gaming Mitigation grants.

In total, 52 non-profit and municipally-owned performing arts centers across Massachusetts will receive $3.34 million to help mitigate the challenges they face when directly competing with resort casinos to book touring artists.

“When the Legislature considered the operation of resort-style casinos in Massachusetts almost a decade ago many were concerned with unintended consequences,” said Mass Cultural Council Director Anita Walker said.

“While the influx of new gaming revenues into state coffers and the creation of new jobs was anticipated and welcome, many predicated performing arts centers would lose access to acts once they began competing with casinos to attract and book nationally-touring artists.”

“Mass Cultural Council is proud to administer this program, fulfilling the Legislature’s vision by making these mitigation funds available to non-profit and municipally-owned performing arts centers.”

Multiple performing arts centers on Cape Cod, the Islands, and Southeastern Massachusetts will receive Gaming Mitigation grants including $8,915 for Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival in Eastham, $16,183 for Cotuit Center for the Arts in Cotuit, $34,511 for Greater Plymouth Performing Arts Center in Plymouth, $69,141 for Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro, $1,000 for Provincetown Jazz Festival in Orleans, $9,518 for The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation in Nantucket, and $18,472 for The Yard in Chilmark.

The Mass Cultural Council was directed to administer the grants the legislature in the “Expanded Gaming Act of 2011.”

While the program was conceived nine years ago, the council is now managing the first award round in 2020 because casinos did not begin operating in Massachusetts until 2018.

The Gaming Mitigation Program aims to mitigate a direct threat to the sustainability of non-profit and municipal performing arts centers in the state by providing capital to preserve their ability to compete with casinos in a new, unbalanced marketplace.

Grants are awarded using a formula that considers two factors, with equal weight: percent of performances impacted, and the total fees paid to touring shows and artists.

The formula allocates higher awards to performing arts centers with a higher percent of impacted performances who spend more money on touring shows or artists because organizations with business models that rely heavily on these types of shows and artists are most heavily impacted by competition with casinos.

The funds must be spent on fees paid to touring shows or artist which includes payments to the show or artist, housing cost for the touring show or artist, and travel costs for the show or artists.

While performing arts centers are currently closed due to COVID-19 precautions, the funding will help recipients attract and pay touring artists when it is deemed safe to reopen.  

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