Letters to the Editor

Arts and humanities are important

On April 25, 2016, the Chelsea City Council gave official recognition to the Chelsea arts and humanities community at a ceremony sponsored by the Chelsea Cultural Council.  Local artists, Chelsea residents, and guests filled the third floor of City Hall to capacity for this occasion.

We are extremely grateful to the City Council for this event, and on behalf of the Chelsea Cultural Council I would like to publicly give my heartfelt thanks to all the members of the Chelsea City Council for holding our First Annual Cultural Council Grantees Reception in celebration of arts and culture in our city.

I would also thank the 2016 Grant Recipients, past members of the Cultural Council, past Grant Recipients, and community members who came out to recognize and honor the 13 Grant Recipients for 2016, demonstrating interest in our work and the support we provide to practitioners of arts and culture in Chelsea.

Many people in our city are not familiar with the Chelsea Cultural Council or the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents and contribute to the economic vitality of our communities.  The MCC receives its funding from the Massachusetts legislature as an annual budget item, and other sources.  It then redistributes these funds in the form of grants to individuals, organizations, schools – and to Local Cultural Councils, of which the Chelsea Cultural Council is one of 329 in Massachusetts.

In Chelsea, our Cultural Council is a municipal board within the Department of Health and Human Services.  Its members are volunteers who are appointed by the City Manager, and whose appointments are approved by the City Council.  Our job is to review grant applications from individuals, schools, and organizations for arts, humanities, and interpretive science projects that provide a local public benefit. We also accept applications from schools and youth groups for a ticket subsidy program for cultural field trips.  The goal is to fund projects that help unite Chelsea through a shared commitment to the arts and culture in our city.  After the applications are reviewed, the Council makes recommendations to the MCC as to which grants should be awarded and the amount of the award.  Over the past 18 years, the Chelsea Cultural Council has awarded $390,000 to 427 different projects, ranging from the Chelsea Art Walk, to the Apollinaire Theatre, and to Chelsea High School.  For 2016, we received a total number of 20 applications, requesting a grand total of $46,797.  We were able to award $17,938 to 13 local artists, schools and cultural organizations.

All this being said, why do we believe our work in the arts and humanities to be important?  In an op-ed piece that appeared in the March 1, 2016 edition of the Boston Globe, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh wrote “If Boston is going to be a thriving, healthy, and innovative city, we need our artists to flourish …. Art brings people together …. Without our artists, we aren’t Boston.”  Not only do we find this statement to be a valid answer to the question, it is equally applicable to Chelsea.  Art and cultural programming enhances education, promotes healthy aging, and can help youth build trust and develop a sense of confidence.  Attendance at art and cultural programs sustains, and increases, human connections, contributes to economic development, and supports the vitality of community spaces.  We know that the more people participate in arts and cultural events, the more likely they are to participate in other activities that support our community life – which can only improve and strengthen our city.

Sharlene McLean

Chair of the Chelsea Cultural Council

Stamp Out Hunger

Saturday, May 14th, marks the 24th anniversary of the National Association of Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive”. Letter carriers walk throughout the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many, hunger.

So, each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide for families in our own community in need of help.

Last year, on this one day over 71 million pounds of food was collected nationally. Over the course of its 23 year history the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food, thanks to the Postal Service’s universal network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The need is great. Currently 49 million Americans (1 in 6) are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Nearly 16 million children feel the impact of hunger on their overall health and ability to perform in school and 5 million seniors over age 60 have to decide between daily meals or paying for rent or needed medications.

The timing of this annual event is intentional and crucial. Food banks and pantries receive the bulk of their donations around the fall and winter holidays. By springtime many pantries are depleted, entering the summer with low supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.

Participating in this year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. Just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by your mailbox on Saturday, May 14th and your letter carrier will do the rest. Please join in America’s great day of giving and help us in our fight to end hunger.

Your local Letter Carrier

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