Kathleen Bitetti

artspacerCuratorialspacerPublic Policy/AdvocacyspacerContact


For over twenty five years, Kathleen has been advocating and advising on local, state and national levels for artist's rights, first amendment and intellectual property protection, access to affordable health care & health care reform, arts funding, small business issues, the creative and cultural economies, and the development of free or low cost resources/services for artists working in all genres, small arts related businesses, cultural nonprofits, and grassroots organizations. Bitetti has helped to craft state and national legislation and regulations, has organized, served on, and moderated panels on policy issues, and has given numerous lectures, talks and trainings on advocacy and public policy methods. In January 2012 she was formally invited by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to join the State's Creative Economy Council and served on it until it sunseted at the end of December 2016. In December 2011 she was invited to join a State House Independent Contractor Working Group in an effort to have the stakeholders work together to find a solution to fix the unintended consequences of a 2004 change of Massachusetts's law governing independent contractors. Kathleen headed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's 2013 arts & culture policy election team, crafted that mayoral campaign platform, and also served on his 2014 arts & culture transition team. She was also one of the main architects of the Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition's white paper for the 2014 Massachusetts Governor's race and its fall 2016 Labor Policy paper.

Kathleen was the project leader and the lead author of the Fall 2009 report, Stand Up and Be Counted- the first state-wide survey of Massachusetts artists of all disciplines on their work lives, socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, and medical and non-medical debt. She is the project advisor and lead writer for 2017 follow up survey and 2018 report,By Artists, For Artists. Her advocacy for individual artists was highlighted in a 2010 WBUR radio spot reporting on the unintended consequences of an independent contractor law change in Massachusetts. (For more WBUR stories featuring Kathleen). Bitetti was also mentioned and/or quoted in several 2013 WBUR ARTery blog posts: Arts and the Next Mayor, Walsh On The Arts, Who Should Be The Mayor's Next Arts Czar?

Health care is a policy area in which Kathleen has extensive knowledge. She was deeply involved with health care advocacy during the first wave of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic in the late 1980's and early 1990's. She, along with artists Kurt Reynolds and Stephen Carter, organized the first Boston exhibition of artists living with HIV/AIDS. It should be acknowledged that at the time of the exhibition it was not yet illegal for people with HIV/AIDS to be discriminated against in housing or employment. Bitetti has been very involved with Massachusetts' ground breaking 2006 health care reform law and its on going implementation. In 2009 she served on the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network's Nonprofit Health Insurance Project Task Force. She is a steering committee member of the ACT II Coalition. She also serves on the Athletes and the Arts Steering Committee.

From 1992-2009, Kathleen was the executive director of the Artists Foundation. Under her tenure, the AF took a leading role on public policy issues that impacted artists. While at the AF, she helped to co-found the Artist Health Care Task force, co-authored a 1994 Report to Congress on artists' health care issue, helped to established Visual AIDS Boston, advocated for better services and prevention outreach for artists living with HIV/AIDS, and she positioned the AF as a leading voice in the national "orphan works" policy debate.

Kathleen helped to found the Annual Artists Under the Dome event at the Massachusetts State House (MA is the only state to have such an event). Bitetti is the co-founder of the Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition and two Massachusetts based working groups: the Artists Health Care Working Group and the State House Artists Working Group. She also helped to found two artists run organizations/websites: www.healthcareforartists.org & www.artistsunderthedome.org. Kathleen holds a BA in both Economics (with a specialization in Public Policy) and Art (art history & studio) from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She was a long term board member of the Massachusetts Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and has served on numerous boards and advisory boards.

Additional press highlights about Kathleen: In 2008 she was denoted as a "Good Bostonian" by the Boston Weekly Dig for her advocacy and public policy work. CaughtinSouthie.com picked her to be their Character of the Month for August 2012 and she was also featured in 2012 in the Sommerville Times. The Massachusetts Cultural Council's blog, ArtSake, featured Bitetti on Oct. 30, 2013. Also in 2013 an interview with Kathleen and Todd Lester by MAP founding director, Janeil Engelstad entitled, "Field of Action", was included in the publication, MAP 2013 - The Workbook. In 2014 she was highlighted twice for her work: On Feburary 20, Big Red & Shiny featured her in their Boston Common blog series and on August 29, by Future Boston in their Local Heroes blog series. In a MassMedia's special edition - Fall 2015 and in its October 2014, she was featured in its series MassMedia's -UMass Boston's 50 at 50 Years.