The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.


The Northampton Arts Council, the City's official cultural council, was founded in 1980, through enabling legislation passed by the state, with an all-volunteer board whose role was to grant state lottery funds allocated to the City. Since then, due in part to the character of Northampton with its large concentration of artists, the Northampton Arts Council has become much more varied than simply administering "Arts Lottery" funds. As one of only a few Arts Councils in Massachusetts to make grants available to artists every spring, we have successfully granted over $500,000 to local artists, arts organizations, public schools with locally raised funds via artistic and cultural programming.

In 1988-89 the City of Northampton developed the Northampton Cultural Plan. One of the provisions of this plan was the creation of a City-funded half-time Arts Coordinator position. Massachusetts Cultural Council funding suffered a major financial setback in the early 90s with a budget drop from $26 million to just $3 million. The City of Northampton, with its own crisis, zero-funded the Arts Council position. Faced with becoming an all-volunteer agency, the Arts Council wrote a successful grant to the National Endowment for the Arts for Salary Assistance that provided partial support over the next 3 years for one full-time position, split between two part-time arts co-coordinators. That's when Arts Council began producing arts events--a big outdoor benefit called Transperformance at the end of every August and an eclectic series called Four Sundays in February designed to raise funds for arts enrichment programs in the public schools, funding a second round of artist’s grants in the spring, and securing Arts Council staff.

History of Local Cultural Council Program
The Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences annually. The program promotes the availability of rich cultural experiences for every Massachusetts citizen. The Local Cultural Council Program was first established in 1982 and was managed by the Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council. Then in 1990, the Arts Lottery Council merged with another state agency, the Massachusetts Council on Arts and Humanities, to form the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). The MCC has overseen the LCC Program since and receives its funding from an annual state appropriation. Administered by 2,400 municipally appointed volunteers, the LCC network consists of 329 councils serving all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns. Each year, local councils award more than $2 million in grants to more than 5,000 cultural programs statewide. These include school field trips, afterschool programs, concerts, festivals, lectures, theater, dance, music, and film. LCC projects take place in schools, community centers, libraries, elder care facilities, town halls, parks, and wherever communities come together.

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