MASS MoCA is 10 years old this summer, and in the past two weeks, WBUR has had two excellent reports on the museum and its economic and cultural impact on North Adams, its home.
A few numbers from the reports: with 150,000 sq. ft. of gallery space in a 400,000 sq. ft. complex, the museum draws 110,000 visitors annually. It pumps $14 million a year into local hotels, restaurants and shops. The state put $35 million into the project, and this year, according to director Joe Thompson, MASS MoCA moved out of the red and is finally making money. (WBUR doesn't mention it, but as I recall from past reports, it's real estate revenues that MASS MoCA taps to make money.) Not everything works, and MASS MoCA has seen many bumps over the past years, but still -- for a town deserted by its manufacturing companies, it's not a bad deal.
Nonetheless, according to WBUR, the wisdom of relying on MASS MoCA is apparently fueling a political debate in North Adams among its mayoral candidates.