Massachusetts Cultural Council Receives Key of Excellence

By Anne Tria Wise

The Phi Beta Kappa Society presented the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) with its Key of Excellence Award and its $5,000 prize at a reception celebrating the arts, humanities, and sciences at Boston Symphony Hall on May 1, 2014. 

State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz presented the award at a ceremony emceed by CBS WBZ-TV News Anchor Jack Williams, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Oregon. Anita Walker, MCC’s Executive Director since 2007, accepted the award in support of the agency’s work. 

“MCC’s exemplary programs and the work of its grantees effectively show how the arts, sciences, and humanities help Massachusetts interpret our past and shape our future,” said Senator Chang-Diaz. “The cultural sector contributes greatly to the state’s economy today and builds a strong educational foundation that puts young people on the path to success going forward in school, work, and life.  I am delighted to participate as the Massachusetts Cultural Council receives this national recognition tonight.” 

“The Phi Beta Kappa Society created the Key of Excellence Awards to energize support for the arts and sciences because of their value to the nation,” said ΦBK President Katherine Soule. “The Key of Excellence showcases innovative programs that demonstrate the excellence, range, and relevance of the arts and sciences to communities. We aim to show decision makers that arts and sciences education expands opportunity, drives ingenuity, and invests in America.” 

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, sciences, and humanities. “It was chosen for its local and national leadership in efforts to provide youth and other vulnerable populations with in-depth arts, humanities, and science experiences,” said Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill, head of its National Office in Washington, D.C. 

“Programs, such as YouthReach, Big Yellow School Bus, and STARS Residencies (Students and Teachers working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) demonstrate how the arts, sciences, and humanities build healthier, more livable, and vital communities across the Commonwealth.” 

“How exciting to receive this national honor from the Phi Beta Kappa Society for our work here in Massachusetts,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. “This recognition of the agency’s work on behalf of young people arrives on the heels of our national summit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the YouthReach Initiative. Through the summit a national policy agenda focused on creative youth development was put into motion. This recognition from ΦBK will certainly further energize those efforts.”

At the event, representatives of three organizations talked about the impact of MCC’s work in Massachusetts communities. Speakers included Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, Chief Executive Officer, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción; Joseph P. Cox, President, Ecotarium; and Nina Zannieri, Executive Director, Paul Revere Memorial Association. 

You can see how Phi Beta Kappa is growing support for the arts, humanities, and sciences in communities across the country by watching event highlights at Phi Beta Kappa’s next regional National Arts & Sciences event will take place in Madison, Wisconsin, in October 2014. 

L-R: Jack Williams of WBZ-TV, Phi Beta Secretary John Churchill, Director Anita Walker of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Phi Beta Kappa President Katherine Soule, and Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz.

Anne Tria Wise is the Director of the National Arts & Sciences Initiative at Phi Beta Kappa. She can be reached at (202) 745-3230 or