Program opens cultural doors to low-income families

Gazette Staff

January 18, 2020

This article was originally published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

AMHERST — A new program in which more than 200,000 families can receive discounted or free admission to cultural attractions across Massachusetts launched Friday at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

Representatives from the Mass Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Health Connector, along with state Sen. Jo Comerford and state Rep. Mindy Domb, discussed the benefits Friday of what is called the ConnectorCare Card to Culture program.

For those with EBT, WIC and ConnectorCare cards, 130 cultural sites statewide are participating.

Anita Walker, executive director of the Mass Cultural Council, said in statement that there are benefits to health for those participating in arts and culture.

“This groundbreaking partnership will open doors to cultural experiences that ​not only entertain and inspire but are also a protective factor for health and well-being,” Walker said.

At the Hitchcock, for instance, cardholders get a fully complimentary family membership, automatic financial aid qualification for its Nature Summer Camp program, and additional discounts to community programs.

In addition to the Hitchcock, organizations participating in the Pioneer Valley include Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton, Northampton Arts Council, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and Fine Arts Center in Amherst, Wistariahurst in Holyoke, Eggtooth Productions in Greenfield and Historic Deerfield.

During the event, Comerford praised the program.

“As Senate chair of the Public Health Committee, I am focused on ways to improve public health in the commonwealth,” Comerford said.

“Being engaged with arts and culture is not only good for people’s health, it’s a social determinant of health,” Domb said. “We all should have access to it, unconditionally.”

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