Alice Kociemba, chair of the Falmouth Cultural Council responded to the Falmouth Finance Committee’s decision to table action of Article 10 with a letter to the Editor of the Falmouth Enterprise.
The Falmouth Enterprise article about FinComm’s decision is here: https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/news/falmouth-fincom-denies-town-money-for-cultural-council/article_0556c9f5-af5b-5aa0-8665-ffeb1f07cf3b.html
Alice’s letter is online here: https://www.capenews.net/falmouth/opinion/why-falmouth-should-fund-its-cultural-council/article_c259f8d7-fdd3-5d95-a488-f122dde4b763.html?fbclid=IwAR2iKVNkSGJEybgJLM8nFgoLFJNfaZKUfrMuhIQQvoOe1w_jcayyw2qEMjM
and reprinted below:
Why Falmouth Should Fund Its Cultural Council
As chairperson of the Falmouth Cultural Council, I want to clarify some of the information reported in the 10/14/22 article about the Falmouth Finance Committee’s decision to table Article #10, submitted by the Falmouth Cultural Council to the Annual Town Meeting (scheduled for November 14, 2022).
As reported, “Finance Committee members balked at the idea that money would be allocated from the town budget each year and yet town government could not control how it is spent.” Perhaps some communication and collaboration between the Falmouth Cultural Council and the FinCom would help to alleviate their concerns, and would specifically help to answer the question posed by Mr. Peter Hargraves: “How does the cultural council get to be first in line, other than it is state-directed?”
In reality, all members of the Falmouth Cultural Council are appointed by the town’s select board. Yes, it receives an annual allotment from the Mass Cultural Council ($7,300 in FY22, $8,400 for FY23), but ALL its grant decisions are done at the local level, so it is not “state-directed.”
The Falmouth Cultural Council’s funding priorities are informed by local input in its annual community survey. Based on survey results, Falmouth residents want more free or low-cost live events: concerts; arts and crafts fairs; library programs; art, music and cultural classes, exhibits and receptions; and projects celebrating cultural diversity and local history. They also want arts and cultural projects that serve our underserved populations (low-income, BIPOC, non-English-speaking, LGBTQIA2+, people with disabilities, seniors, teens, families with young children and single adults.
The only way to meet this demand is to appropriately fund these types of programs, and the council has not had the resources to do this. For the three years FY20 – FY22, the Falmouth Cultural Council was allocated $19,900 of state funding by Mass Cultural Council. We received 97 grant requests amounting to $75,641. After carefully vetting the requests, the council was able to approve 72, but only because the independently operated Falmouth ArtMarket augmented the funds. (Since 2004, the ArtMarket has donated nearly $13,000 to the FCC.) Even with that added funding, a third of the approved requests could be only partially funded.
To repeat, the Falmouth Cultural Council is municipally-appointed, not state-directed, and it is a part of town government. The council observes state and town open meeting requirements and conflict of interest rules. All of the funding the council receives is distributed to local artists and organizations that are helping to meet the town’s demand for more cultural outlets. The grant recipients include such local organizations as ArtsFalmouth; Cape Cod Cape Verdean Museum and Cultural Center; College Light Opera Company; Falmouth Art Center; Falmouth Chamber Players; Historic Highfield Hall & Gardens; and Woods Hole Theater Company, among others. It also includes countless individual Falmouth artist-residents. All have been economically impacted by the COVID years. Partial funding is not enough to off-set the losses of these organizations and individuals.
Article #10 would deepen the pool of resources that fund our vibrant cultural sector. Four towns (two on Cape Cod and two off-Cape) match MCC funding. So why not Falmouth? And why not now? The Falmouth Cultural Council isn’t “first in line,” it is the only town committee charged with making arts and culture visible and strong. The arts are a bridge that connects all parts of town. And its infrastructure is sorely in need of restoration.
On behalf of the Falmouth Cultural Council, I am appealing to the Town Meeting members to support Article #10. Prior to the Annual Town Meeting, members of the council and some of its artist-grantees will attend all 9 precinct meetings to answer any concerns or questions about why Article #10 is necessary to adequately fund Falmouth’s arts and cultural events.
In addition, I will be interviewed on FCTV by Barbara Kanellopoulos on October 24. Please visit FCTV’s programming schedule to see when “Conversations with Barbara” will be aired. Also, please reach out to members of the Falmouth Cultural Council via email (email@example.com) or through its website (falmouthculturalcouncil.org) for any information about MCC grant programs, a calendar of events featuring its grant recipients, or Article #10 information.
Alice Kociemba, Chairperson, Falmouth Cultural Council
North Falmouth, MA