Valley arts organizations win Mass Cultural funding: Awards are designed to mitigate casinos’ entertainment clout

Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield is one of 10 Valley organizations to receive money from the Massachusetts Cultural Council through the state’s Gaming Mitigation Fund. The fund was set up to help smaller arts centers with the cost of hosting touring shows and meeting artists’ fees.

Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield is one of 10 Valley organizations to receive money from the Massachusetts Cultural Council through the state’s Gaming Mitigation Fund. The fund was set up to help smaller arts centers with the cost of hosting touring shows and meeting artists’ fees. file photo

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2024 6:30 PM

As part of a funding program for municipal and nonprofit performing arts centers, the Massachusetts Cultural Council is awarding over $150,000 to 10 arts organizations and centers in the Valley.

The awards — part of $3.66 million in funding the MCC is providing to 58 arts organizations across the state — are drawn from what’s known as the state’s Gaming Mitigation Fund, a program financed through casino state tax revenues and administered by the MCC.

In a statement, the MCC said the fund was established to help smaller performing arts centers with the cost of hosting touring shows and meeting artists’ fees, especially places that are directly impacted by the operation of resort-style casinos in Massachusetts.

“Over the past decade, nonprofit and municipal performing arts centers have been priced out of the touring market, even with acts they have hosted many times before,” officials said. The problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19, they noted, leaving “lasting impacts on the field of arts presenting.”

“With the advantage … casinos have, to not only book national and international touring acts but also to offer luxury housing for the artists they book, public funding for nonprofit and municipal performing arts centers is imperative.”

In the Valley, the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will receive the largest amount of funding — $62,900 — while Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield will earn $31,800 and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra $12,400.

In Northampton, three organizations will be funded: The Parlor Room ($10,000), The School for Contemporary Dance & Thought ($6,000), and the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity ($6,000).

Other area organizations and arts centers to win funding include Blues to Green in Huntington, the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, the Theater Project at the Majestic Theater in West Springfield, and KO Theater Works in Belchertown.

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The largest awards in the Gaming Mitigation Fund top out at $200,000 and will go primarily to arts centers in eastern Massachusetts, as well as to the Hanover Theatre in Worcester. In addition, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Beckett is slated to receive $150,600.

MCC officials, along with representatives of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, state and local officials, cultural sector partners, and grantees gathered at the Hanover Theatre April 8 to celebrate the awards.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.