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The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial

Our Opinion: CFF Has Earned Its Keep

November 14, 2013

The state Cultural Facilities Fund, which Governor Deval Patrick said Tuesday in Pittsfield would grow from $5 million to $15 million annually, has in its seven years of existence been of considerable benefit to communities like those in the Berkshires that depend heavily on the cultural economy. Its future will be one of the many issues to emerge next year in what looms as a critical state election year.

The governor, who spoke at the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Pittsfield and at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, announced that Pittsfield will receive $1.7 million in state funding to complete improvements at the First Street Common and a $2 million MassWorks Grant for Phase 3 of the Downtown Streetscape Project. These are hugely significant projects for Pittsfield as they will boost the city aesthetically and economically for decades to come.

The Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF), an early Patrick initiative with the Legislature that is administered by MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, is an excellent example of a successful public-private initiative. Recipients must demonstrate that they can raise an amount in private funds to equal the public funding they will receive. Increasing the fund to $15 million not only will help launch ambitious initiatives it will help finance less glamorous but necessary projects, such as the handicapped accessible walkway to Norman Rockwell’s art studio on the museum grounds that museum President and CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt observed Tuesday was funded by a CFF grant.

Governor Patrick is not running for re-election and the future of the CFF and all manner of initiatives will be up for grabs. The governor told The Eagle that the CFF “has high impact where the return is multiplied,” and initiatives like the CFF that combine public and private money and pay long-term dividends are ones that should be continued no matter who is governor or what the makeup of the Legislature will be in 2015.