The EcoTarium, New England’s leading science and nature center, has been awarded a $244,290 Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) grant for connection to the electrical grid. The award, along with other CFF grant recipients in Worcester County, was announced by state and city officials at a press conference at the EcoTarium on Friday, August 2 at 10 a.m.
The EcoTarium grant, the largest awarded in central Massachusetts, will allow the 41-year old facility on Harrington Way to connect to the electrical grid, thus reducing reliance on its aging power plant, ensuring energy continuity, and positively impacting the safety of visitors and wildlife, according to Joseph P. Cox, EcoTarium president.
“The Cultural Facilities Grant represents an investment to an organization that has inspired a passion for science and nature in visitors since 1825,” said Mr. Cox. “We are thrilled that our attendance has grown significantly over the past decade and that our growth contributes to the economy of Central Massachusetts.”
State Senater Harriette L. Chandler, who attended today’s announcement, said “Congratulations to the EcoTarium on receiving a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund. A core part of the Worcester community, the EcoTarium has been essential in preserving a unique educational environment. I commend the Patrick Administration’s investment in the arts in Massachusetts and know that these projects will prove to serve our communities well in the future.”
Anita Walker, Massachusetts Cultural Council Executive Director also announced awards to the following Central Massachusetts organizations: American Antiquarian Society ($116,000), Worcester Art Museum ($100,000), First Parish Meeting House Preservation Society of Shirley, Inc. ($11,500), Hopkinton Center for the Arts ($20,000), Worcester Community Cable Access ($25,000), and the Town of Royalston ($7,000).
“Since 2007 the CFF has made nearly 400 grants, investing more than $55 million in the cultural sector,” Ms. Walker said. “These grants helped launch many transformative projects, leveraging private sector dollars that have kept this sector growing and thriving. CFF has also helped our nonprofit organizations become better stewards of our cultural heritage.”
In total CFF-funded building projects will spend more than $1.5 billion, providing more than 14,000 building jobs to architects, engineers, contractors, and carpenters. The organizations also plan to add more than 1,400 permanent jobs after their capital projects are complete.
CFF grants have also helped restore and preserve many of our nation’s most cherished historic buildings, which attract cultural tourists to Massachusetts. More than 15 million people visit CFF-funded organizations annually, with nearly one third coming from out-of-state.
This award is the fourth CFF grant the EcoTarium has received. In 2008, the museum received a Capital Projects grant for $51,917 in 2008 to reduce high energy usage by its power plant and thus operating expenditures. This was followed in 2009 by a Feasibility and Technical Assistance grant of $18,750 to assess connection to the electrical grid and a $6,000 grant to partially fund a 20-year capital needs assessment the EcoTarium’s building and mechanical systems, including its Power Plant.
About the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund
The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) is an initiative of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Fund was created as part of a major economic stimulus bill that was approved by the Massachusetts Legislature in July 2006. The most recent capital budget appropriation to the Fund in FY2013 is $5 million. To date, the Fund has awarded $54.8 million in grants to 269 cultural organizations across Massachusetts.
The goal of the Cultural Facilities Fund is to increase investments from both the public sector and the private sector to support the sound planning and development of cultural facilities in Massachusetts. The Fund provides Capital Grants to promote the acquisition, design, repair, rehabilitation renovation, expansion, or construction of nonprofit cultural facilities in Massachusetts. All grants from the Fund must be matched with cash contributions from the private or public sector.
About the EcoTarium
The EcoTarium is New England's leading science and nature center, an indoor-outdoor venue dedicated to inspiring a passion for science and nature in visitors of all ages. The center offers a museum building with three floors of interactive exhibits and is home to live animal habitats, interpretive nature trails through forest and meadow, the Alden Digital Planetarium, a tree canopy walkway (seasonal) and a narrow-gauge railroad.
The EcoTarium, located at 222 Harrington Way in Worcester, Mass., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays 12 to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $8 for children 2-18, $10 for seniors 65+ and students with ID. WOO card holders receive $2 off one adult admission and $1 off one planetarium show. Parking is free. For more information, visit www.ecotarium.org.
Julieane K. Frost
Manager of Communications and Marketing