The Massachusetts Cultural Council is accustomed to fighting annual budget battles but the governor's proposed cut shows a lack of respect for an important body.
Governor Baker's budget calls for a $7.7 million cut from the MCC budget for coming fiscal year, which constitutes a 55 percent gutting of funds. MCC funding is of critical importance to the many cultural institutions, and the communities they are located in, throughout Massachusetts in general and the Berkshires in particular.
As co-chair of the House Cultural Council, state Representative William "Smitty" Pignatelli, a Lenox Democrat, is at the forefront of an effort in the Legislature to collect the two-thirds vote necessary to override the governor's vetoes and restore the funding approved by the Legislature. With the assistance of state Senator Ben Downing, a Pittsfield Democrat, and all of Mr. Pignatelli's colleagues in the House Berkshire delegation, there is reason to hope that goal will be reached.
Few state organizations have as wide and as beneficial a reach as does the MCC, which provides grants to nonprofit arts, humanities and science groups, as well as communities, schools and individual artists. This is money that generates money, as the organizations the MCC contributes to spend $1.2 billion annually and provide 32,889 jobs, according to a letter send by Representative Pignatelli and three other legislative chairmen to their constituents.
Senator Downing said in the July 18 Eagle that an "indiscriminate cut" of this level "was done without much thought," and indeed a cursory look at what the Massachusetts Cultural Council actually does should have precluded proposing such a devastating cut. We urge the Legislature to veto the cuts and at least level-fund the MCC, and we hope the governor will acquaint himself with the role and accomplishments of this valuable organization.