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September 10, 2013

Tourism leaders dole out cultural cash on visit

Not everyone was happy with the state payouts, however

HAVERHILL — Local and state officials joined cultural and tourism leaders from Newburyport to Methuen at Haverhill’s Winnekenni Castle yesterday to announce and celebrate the recipients of this year’s state cultural grants.

Newburyport was the big winner, receiving $4,250 for its cultural council; $2,500 for The Firehouse Center for the Arts; $2,500 for the Newburyport Literary Festival; $3,500 for On Stage Inc.; and $2,500 to A Far Cry Inc.

Haverhill landed $20,000 for its cultural council and the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce received $10,000 for a project aimed at teaching nonprofits to raise their own money so they aren’t dependent on state subsidies.

The event at the 700-acre Winnekenni park was part of a public hearing and listening tour by the Legislature’s Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

Attendees that packed the castle included the mayors of Haverhill, Newburyport and Amesbury as well as elected officials, artists and cultural leaders from the North of Boston region.

Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday joined Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini in asking the state to help pay for a passenger boat that would travel the Merrimack River between the two communities.

“A boat from Haverhill to Newburyport would work, but it needs a short-term subsidy at first,” Fiorentini said.

Holaday called for more cultural funding for school districts. She said schools in Newburyport and other communities have been decimated by cuts to arts and music programs.

“How are we going to bring up our next musicians, artists and dancers when we are wiping out the arts in schools?” Holaday asked the committee.

The committee spent the morning at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall before going to Winnekenni Park. The committee, which is co-chaired by state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, was scheduled to visit historical and cultural locations in Salisbury, Amesbury and Newburyport later in the day.

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