BOSTON (CBS) –The Mass Cultural Council is teaming up with the Massachusetts Health Connector to make more than 100 arts and cultural events more accessible for thousands across the state.

“We at the Mass Cultural Council know that the arts and culture are a powerful antidote to things that are really troublesome for people: social isolation, loneliness, which leads to depression, anxiety, and even heart disease and other very, very serious health consciences,” said Anita Walker, the executive director of the Mass Cultural Council.

Under the program, which launched Jan. 1, ConnectorCare cardmembers can enjoy free or dramatically reduced admission to more than 100 cultural sites across the state. The participating institutions range from The Blue Man Group to the Museum of Fine Arts, to the Franklin Park Zoo.

For more information, including a full list of participating organizations, go to the Massachusetts Health Connector website.

The Massachusetts Health Connector is the state’s subsidized health insurance program for residents with incomes below the federal poverty level. More than 200,000 people use the ConnectorCare card.

“It’s all about access. We all feel better when we have a chance to exercise our creative minds, participate in the arts and culture, take a walk in the woods, or hear some beautiful music,” said Walker. “We know that these are what we call protective factors for good health. In fact, research shows that people who participate in the arts and culture are 60 percent healthier than those who don’t.”

Despite the program being the first of its kind, it is based on a similar initiative done with electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards.

According to Walker, EBT cards serve about 800,000 people in Massachusetts who well below the poverty line. With the EBT card, they have free or dramatically reduced admission to over 200 cultural sites. In the first two years of the program, the EBT card was used to access arts and culture 370,000 times.

She also pointed out, if you don’t have health insurance, this is one more incentive to sign up with the Massachusetts Health Connector.

“Our goal is to increase the number of people in Massachusetts who have health insurance and to improve the health and wellbeing of our people in Massachusetts,” Walker said.


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