The Policy Makers (this page was updated 4/18/13)
It is very important to find out who your elected official are! To find out who your State Senator and State Representatives are: www.vote-smart.org To find out where to vote:http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.aspx
After you find out who represents you--Become a Citizen Artist and get involved! We encourage you to get to know your elected officials and their staff members. Remember the staff members, like individual artists, are often taken for granted, so make sure you invite them to your events as well!
To learn about the Massachusetts State government see mass.gov That website provides information and links to all aspects of the Massachusetts State government and more! That site's About State Government section has key information that every artist and resident should become familiar with. That official website has information about the Constitutional Officers that are elected by Massachusetts Residents: the Governor & Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the State Auditor, and the State Treasurer. There is also a complete listing of the Branches and Departments of State Government.
Of Note: the State Treasurer's Office is a founding member of the State House Artist Working Group and his office offers free financial programs as well. Also worth noting is that the Governor's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development is a member of the Working Group and this Office has made the Creative Economy a priority!
The Legislative Branch of the State Government (and the Governor) are the law makers. They create and pass laws/legislation for the Commonwealth. The Legislative branch of government is also sometimes called the General Court and should not be confused with the State Court System or the Judicial Branch. The Legislative Branch is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The leader of the Senate is called the Senate President and the leader of the House of Representatives is call the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is important to become familiar with the Committees of "the General Court". Joint Committees have two Chairpeople- one chair from the House of Representatives and one chair from the Senate, while what are often called stand alone committees- (i.e. the committee is a Senate Committee or a House Committee) only have one chairperson. We have highlighted several Committees that are key for individual artists to be aware o. Also of note is the State House's Cultural Caucus- the co-chairs and co-founders are Senator Chang-Diaz and Representative Pignatelli. Ask your State Senator and State Representative to join it!
Some of the Key Committees for Individual Artists to be aware of:
The Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development This Committee is a relatively new committee (formed in 2004) and has made individual artists of all disciplines a top priority. It is a founding member of the State House Artist Working Group. The Committee is working hard via filing legislation and creating initiatives to make this State a great place for artists to live and work in (yes it is true- we would not make this up!). The Committee is also keenly interested in the Creative Economy.
The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies This Committee is also very important to individual artists. It works closely with the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. The Creative Economy is also of particular interest to this Committee. This Committee is also a founding member of the State House Artist Working Group.
The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing This Committee oversees the new Massachusetts health care reform law. They have been trying to ensure that the artists population, like other populations, is not negatively and unfairly impacted by this new law. (If you don't know about the new health care reform law please see: www.healthcareforartists.org)
The Joint Committee of Community Development and Small Businesses The name of the Committee says it all. Artists are small businesses/micro businesses and are often one of the invisible engines that fuel community development.
The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development Artists are not only small businesses/micro businesses and one of the invisible engines that fuel community development, but are also the main workforce and labor for the creative economy. Often times we are invisible to policy makers in regard to what we contribute in the labor force because often we have to have supplementary jobs to make ends meet. It is time for our community to work closely with this Committee.
The Judiciary Committee Intellectual property rigths, such as copyright and performance rights, come before this Committee. Needless to say artists of all disciplines should make an effort to become very visible to this Committee.
The Creative Economy Council was established in 2008. It is not techinically part of the government but it is charged to work with legislators, state officials and elected officials on matters concerning the cultural and creative economies. "The CEC is responsible for delievering to the legislature yearly reports on the best policies to support the growth of the Creative Economy". The Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition has been attending all the CEC meetings and is acting as the Working Group for Artists Issues for the CEC. MALC has given key reccomendations to the CEC on artists issues.
Some key State Agencies Individual Artists might want to be aware of:
Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is the state arts agency. It has a board of overseers that is appointed by the Governor. The board members are not paid for their time. Their board meetings are open to the public. This agency has an individual artist fellowship program and oversees the Local Cultural Councils (LCCs) that are in every city and town. Often the LCCs have grant programs individual artists can apply for. The MCC also has many other programs and online resources that might be of interest to individual artists. The Executive Director of the MCC is Anita Walker.
Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority (the Connector) is a new state agency that was established by the MA health care reform law. Like the MCC, this agency has a board of overseers. They are appointed by the Governor and the Attorney General and are not paid for their time. Their board meetings are open to the public and the board usually meets the second Thursday of every month on the 21st floor of One Ashburton Place in Boston (meeting time fluctuates). This agency has turned out to be artist friendly. The Executive Director is Jon Kingsdale. (Note if you need information about the MA health care reform law, we strongly suggest that you also look at www.healthcareforartists.org to get a better understanding of the law and what your obligations are under the law.)
Massachusetts Office of Tourism and Travel (MOTT) is a state agency that is overseen by the Department of Business and Technology, which is in turn under the Governor's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The official website of MOTT is www.mass-vacation.com The Executive Director is Betsy Wall.
Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) oversees the state park system, historic sites, seashores and more. Many of which have cultural facilities or could be sites for outdoor/indoor public cultural events. DCR has a 13 member citizen Stewardship Council appointed by the Governor. Their meetings are open to the public. The Commissioner is Rick Sullivan.
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is the state agency that oversees the libraries in Massachusetts. Libraries are the only publicly "owned" cultural institutions (besides the Smithsonian) in this country. Libraries have been steadfast allies in the fight against censorship. Many libraries can act as sites for meetings, poetry/literary readings, film screenings, art shows, and artist talks. They have resources artists of all disciplines can utilize. The nine Commissioners are appointed by the Governor. Their meetings are open to the public. The Director is Robert Maier.