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ToolkitLCC Program Information

Program Background

In Massachusetts, public funding for the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences is provided through a central agency, the Mass Cultural Council, and a network of local cultural councils that serve every city and town in the state.

About the MCC

The Mass Cultural Council (MCC) was formed in 1990 through the merger of two previously separate agencies, the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities and the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council.

The MCC is funded by appropriations from the state Legislature and from the National Endowment for the Arts. Funds are distributed through two channels:

  1. Direct grants to individuals and organizations, available through statewide competitive grant processes.
  2. Distributions to local councils, which then regrant funds to individuals and organizations in their communities.

Students filming a public service announcement The mission of the MCC and its local cultural council partners is "to promote excellence, access, education and diversity in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences, in order to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and to contribute to the economic vitality of our communities."

The LCC Program is one of several programs administered by the MCC. A complete listing of MCC grant programs and services is available online.

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About the LCC Program

There are currently 329 local and regional councils that represent all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. This extensive grassroots system of public support for community cultural programs is unmatched anywhere in the United States. LCCs are made up of volunteers who are appointed by the community's chief elected official. There are currently more than 2,400 volunteers serving statewide. Each LCC works to fund cultural projects that benefit its community or region to the greatest possible extent.

Because councils administer public dollars, LCCs play an especially important role in ensuring that cultural opportunities are made accessible to all segments of their communities. The MCC and its LCC partners are committed to access not only as a matter of state and federal laws, but also as a policy designed to encourage participation of all segments of the Commonwealth's population in MCC-funded programs. This includes but is not limited to all racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and senior citizens, as well as low-income, inner-city, and rural populations.

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History of the LCC Program

The MCC's Local Cultural Council Program distributes funds to local and regional cultural councils, which then regrant funds to arts, humanities, and interpretive science projects in their own communities. The program started in 1980 under the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council. Read more about key dates in program's history.


O'ReillyIn 1971, arts advocate Jacqueline O'Reilly conceived of the idea of using a lottery and a portion of its profits to give money to the arts. The program was inspired, in part, by a similarly designed lottery program that was being formed in Australia at the time and is now called lotterywest.

See Mrs. O'Reilly's son talk about the life and achievements of his mother.

Mrs. O'Reilly and other advocates worked tirelessly with the state legislature and governor to come up with a program that would support community arts in the state of Massachusetts. In 1973 the state Legislature established a Special Committee on the Arts to investigate ways of improving state arts funding at the community level in response to federal funding cuts to arts and culture. In 1976 the idea for a state lottery was introduced as a source of revenue for the arts.

Arts Lottery 

TicketIn 1979 legislation authorized the formation of the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council (MALC) and cities and towns began organizing local cultural Councils to distribute funds. Governor Edward King named Mrs. O'Reilly the first chairperson of MALC.

On October 14 in 1980, the first Arts Lottery tickets went on sale. Tickets were $5 and the first jackpot was $200,000.

After a slow start, in November of 1982, the Arts Lottery was reintroduced as the very successful game "Megabucks." It only cost $1 to play, featured a draw of six numbers from a field of 30, and included a jackpot prize that increased with each drawing until won. The financial success of Megabucks led to a cap on the percentage of lottery funds reimbursed to the general fund, which went to arts and culture. The legislature also introduced the first minimum allocation for Local Cultural Councils, which was $1,000.

In 1986 new legislation introduced the Performing Arts Student Series (PASS) program, providing grants for school children to attend performances. While the "PASS" has been retired, LCCs continue to provide funding to send children on cultural field trips.

MegabucksMALC merged with the Massachusetts Councils for the Arts and Humanities to form the Mass Cultural Council (MCC) in 1990. Cuts in the state budget resulted in subsequent cuts to the MCC's budget, reducing funding for the LCCs. Many programs were downsized or severely limited due to lack of funding. The mid-1990s were spent rebuilding the funding base for community arts and culture.

In 2001 MCC started a program to recognize exemplary LCC funded programs currently known as the Gold Star Awards (previously known as Model Projects).

The Leadership Circle Awards were created in 2004 to recognize LCC volunteers for their outstanding work in support of the Local Cultural Council Program.

The Council of the Year Award was created in 2014 to showcase one exemplary Local Cultural Council's work over the past year.

The LCC Program remains the most extensive volunteer-run, cultural funding program in the nation: 329 LCCs served every city and town in the Commonwealth, distributing more than $3.3 million to over 5,000 projects across the state.

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Local Cultural Council Allocations

The amount of money allocated to each community is determined by using one of the state's local aid formulas established by the legislature. The formula is based on population and equalized property values in order to provide low-income communities with relatively larger allocations. Bigger communities get bigger distributions, but greater weight is given to needier communities. A minimum funding level - which affects more than half the LCCs - is set in order to insure that the smaller communities receive a significant amount of money.

Allocations come from the state budget that is developed each year by the governor, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The budget is usually settled in July for the new fiscal year which runs from July 1 to June 30. Then the MCC board allocates the budget it receives among the agency's various programs. By early September, the MCC sends written notification to each council of its exact allocation for the upcoming grant cycle.

In order to stay up to date on the budget process, members can:Girl

  • Join the MCC email list.
  • Join the MASSCreative email list.
  • Look for updates on the MCC web sites and social media, or ask the council's MCC staff contact.
  • Check local television, radio, newspapers, and social media for the announcement of state budget approval.

Don't wait to find out the council's exact allocation amount before publicizing the availability of funds. Promotion really needs to start in August (and even as early as June before school ends) for applicants to adequately develop projects and prepare good applications. Because official MCC notification comes in late August, consider publishing the previous allocation and the average range of awards the council typically makes.

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