Posted on Jan 14, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter January 14th, 2020
Needham Select Board: 1) Dan Matthews (photo below) and 
Massachusetts Cultural Council: 2) David Slatery, Deputy Director and Needham resident (photo below); and 3) Timothea Pham, Program Officer for Local Cultural Districts (photo below)
Dan Matthews, representing the Needham Select Board, offered a brief description of Needham's Tax Assistance Program. This program offers assistance in paying property taxes to seniors and the disabled. The average, annual real estate tax bill is currently $10,000 in Needham. The annual program budget of $15,000 funds about 35 grants averaging $425. Elderly or disabled individuals with less than $55,000 in annual income and married couples with less than $67,000 of annual income are eligible to apply. Here "elderly" is defined as age 60 or over and "disabled" is defined as a person who has been determined to be incapacitated from working by a recognized source such as Social Security, the US military, workers' compensation or a retirement board. The grants can be matched with a circuit-breaker program that is appropriated by Town Meeting to offer greater tax relief. The Tax Assistance Program, however, is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, typically using the labelled envelopes found with your tax bill.  Dan asked us to consider contributing to the fund to boost this program helping seniors and disabled to remain in their homes. The contributions are tax deductible. Further information is available through the Town Treasurer's Office (781-455-7500 ext 208) or online at
Dave Slatery, the CFO and General Counsel of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), spoke about the many ways that the agency supports and enhances the cultural life of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts. The MCC partners with local community councils across the state to expand access, improve education, promote diversity and encourage excellence in the arts, humanities and sciences. As a local partner, each dollar of MCC's $18mm annual budget ($16mm from state appropriation) is leveraged 152 times by other funding sources to fund the total budgets of grantees' cultural programs. To expand access: the EBT Card to Culture program has provided 258,000 free or discounted admissions to 140 cultural organizations to Massachusetts residents of limited means. MCC's cultural organizations offered 48,000 public events each year, including 200 festivals with free or low-cost admission. To improve education, MCC grantees engaged 102,000 children in creative youth development programs, including 6,100 at-risk youth. Students in the arts have lower dropout rates, higher GPAs and better scores in math and language on standardized tests. For more information on MCC and its programs:
Timothea Pham administers MCC's local grants in our region. Needham's Cultural Council (NCC) received a $6,800 grant from MCC in FY2019. That money helped support performances and festivals including: Longwood Opera, Needham Concert Society, Needham Community Theater and New Year's Needham. Needham cultural groups are encouraged to apply for grants by October 15th annually to support exhibits, festivals, field trips, artist residencies and performances. For more information on NCC grants, contact: Kristen Mazzocchi (617-894-9967).