Statewide cultural council grant application deadline extended to Nov. 1

  • The Black Hawk Singers, from left, Bryan Blanchette, Bill DiBenedetto and George Michaud perform during the Pocumtuck Homelands Festival in Turners Falls in August. The festival is one of the projects to have received funding support from the Gill Cultural Council. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2021 3:23:14 PM

With the deadline to apply for Massachusetts Cultural Council grants for fiscal year 2022 extended to Nov. 1, local cultural councils are encouraging area creatives to propose their projects, and to consider joining the volunteer teams.

Residents are encouraged to submit applications seeking funding for arts, humanities and science programs. Applications must be submitted at massculturalcouncil.org.

Local cultural council members say the deadline extension from Oct. 15 was, in part, due to an update in software used by the statewide system, and applicants voiced difficulty navigating the new process. The extension has allowed for more applicants to submit their requests.

Conway Cultural Council member Michelle Sanger said that as of Oct. 15, her board had received 17 applications.

“We would love to have a few more,” Sanger said. “Last year we had about 20 applicants. But we’re obviously not able to fund them all.”

She explained that the funding distributed through the Massachusetts Cultural Council fluctuates each year based on the state budget. The allocation for each local cultural council is also based on the population of each town, which leaves rural communities with limited funding.

In the past, proposals and organizations that have received funding from the Conway Cultural Council have included programs at Field Memorial Library, The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls and Pothole Pictures productions. Last year, amid the lasting COVID-19 pandemic, Sanger said the board received a lot of applications for virtual events.

Shelburne Cultural Council Chair Connie Clarke suspected that the reason for the deadline extension was a combination of low applications across the state, and troubles navigating the new software system used by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Likewise, Gill Cultural Council Co-Chair Patricia Crosby said there was a bit of a learning curve for applicants navigating the new system. Clarke said she helped applicants through the process to learn about the changes.

Crosby said her board has received “a lot more” applications since the night before the original deadline. In the past, the Gill Cultural Council has used its average $5,000 grant allocation to support music performances like the Antenna Cloud Farm summer concert series in Gill, the Nolumbeka Project’s Pocumtuck Homelands Festival in Turners Falls and the Authors and Artists Festival in Northfield.

“That’s an example of one that doesn’t happen in Gill, but Northfield is near enough that we know people from Gill will benefit,” Crosby explained.

Clarke said the Shelburne Cultural Council had received an “alarmingly low” number of applications by the original deadline, but as of Oct. 21, there were 10 completed and submitted applications. In 2020, Clarke said, the Shelburne Cultural Council had received 29 applications, and in 2019, there were 38. Last year, Shelburne was allocated $4,480 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which funded 18 projects.

Clarke has previously said “each local cultural council within the Massachusetts Cultural Council network has a crucial obligation to the residents of its town to keep them informed of rich cultural events funded by MCC’s state funding for their benefit.”

“Our primary responsibility with funding from tax-payer money is to enrich the life of fellow residents,” Clarke said.

Anyone interested in supporting this mission can inquire about joining their local cultural council.

According to Clarke, the Massachusetts Cultural Council stipulates that terms are to be no longer than two consecutive three-year terms, followed by a gap year if to be reappointed again. However, “because of all the stress of the pandemic in people’s lives,” Clarke said it is difficult for cultural councils to both recruit and retain new members. She has now served 12 straight years as a member.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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