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Hundreds of Arts Advocates March for Cultural Funding in Boston

In response to President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget, which eliminates the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, hundreds of arts advocates and cultural leaders from across Massachusetts marched to the State House in an effort to increase state funding for culture, Malcolm Gay of the Boston Globe reports.

Advocates are urging the state to allocate $16 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Council next year, nearly $2 million more than the council’s current budget. They are also fighting for support for a state senate bill that would establish a new fund for public art, which would require 1 percent of the state’s capital budget for new buildings and renovations to be set aside for future projects.

“The news coming out of Washington, DC, has a lot of people thinking about their core values,” said Matthew Wilson, executive director of the arts advocacy group MassCreative, which organized the event. “A number of issues may be falling to the states, and we’re looking for state leaders to tap into the vast resources of the arts and culture community.”

A crowd of around six hundred people met at Emerson College’s Paramount Center on Tuesday, March 28, before heading to Beacon Hill to speak with legislators on what participants called “Arts Matter Advocacy Day.” Marchers were urged to share stories with lawmakers about how the arts have impacted their lives.

“It’s a chance to tell them why arts matter to us, and why they should matter to them,” ArtsEmerson executive director David C. Howse said. “We then ask for commitments—will you support boosting the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget?”

Participants in the event ranged from Conservatory Lab Charter School students and arts leaders such as Sam Stackhouse, chair of theater at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Deborah Disston, director of the McIninch Art Gallery at Southern New Hampshire University.

“The president’s proposal is hitting a nerve with a lot of folks,” Wilson said, “and turning passive arts supporters into arts activists.”