Senator Lesser’s Amendment Supporting Public Art Passes in Massachusetts Senate

Senator Eric P. Lesser, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, sponsored a successful amendment to the Commonwealth’s FY’15 supplemental budget Thursday that strengthens and expands the Massachusetts Percent for Art Program (MPAP).

“The arts deserve a prominent place in our communities, especially in public spaces where they can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors,” Senator Lesser said. “My amendment, which was adopted unanimously by my Senate colleagues, ensures that public art plays an active role in all areas of the Commonwealth.”

“Today’s action by the Senate illustrates that the preservation of public art and investment in our creative economy remains an important priority,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst).  “Expanding the MPAP program statewide puts Massachusetts in line with other New England states and ensures investments in public art for the future.”

Under the current MPAP program, if there is construction or substantial renovation of any state-owned building or property, a fixed percentage of the cost of that construction or substantial renovation will be dedicated to the creation or preservation of public art.

Senator Lesser’s successful amendment extends the MPAP program to the entire Commonwealth, a change from the original legislation which only applied to Boston and “Gateway Cities.” The amendment also states that the program does not apply unless the construction project totals at least $4 million, and that the amount designated to the program cannot exceed 0.5 percent of the total project cost or $250,000, whichever is least.

According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, 27 states and territories have some active version of “percent for art” programs, including every New England state except Massachusetts. Nearly all of these programs have a similar structure to the one passed through Senator Lesser’s amendment.

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