Ned Lamont’s Responses

Lamont CircleNed Lamont, of Greenwich, was endorsed by the Democratic Party at its convention in May.

Responses are posted below exactly as provided by the candidate to our Create the Vote 2018 Questionnaire

Lamont has also published a statement on Investing in Arts and Culture on his website.

1. Your Personal Connection to the Arts

We’ve all had defining moments in our lives. Is there a personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity that has had an impact on your life and your view of the community? And, if so, please tell us about it.

When I was in 9th grade I was the keyboardist (read: rock & roll pianist) for a band called Flower Pot (my mom’s idea). Though my band didn’t shoot me off to a lifetime of rock & roll piano stardom, it did give me the confidence that I needed at that age, and a chance to express myself. I still love music and will play the piano when I have the opportunity.

One of my favorite artists is Norman Rockwell, and I have proudly served on the board of the Norman Rockwell Museum. Rockwell’s themes and medium pique two of my life’s passions: politics and journalism. Some of my favorite works by him are the ones that force us to look at the deep seeded issues in American Society, like “The Problem We All Live With,” an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement which depicts Ruby Bridges on her way to school in 1960.

2. Arts + Economic Development

From April 1, 2018 Hartford Courant, Arts and Culture Are Key Contributors to CT’s Economy: “As an industry, arts and cultural events and productions pumped $9 billion into Connecticut’s economy in 2015, generating more money than utilities and construction, according to new figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce.” This same article noted that the arts and culture sector accounts for 3.5% of Connecticut’s total economy.

As governor, how would you recognize the importance of arts and culture in economic development and the revitalization of our cities?

The creative economy is booming around the nation. Recognizing the importance of the arts to economic development will be an important element of my administration.

Specifically, I will be a partner to our urban and rural communities in creating alternative funding streams for the arts. I would seek to replicate, in our Connecticut context, the example of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams. Once a thriving electronics manufacturer, the plant closure in the 1980s decimated the community. Today, the once-vacant 16-acre factory not only hosts massive art installations, but also supports local small businesses and industry by renting out space and hosting events. It’s this kind of diverse economic activity that has the potential to revitalize our own communities and build livable cities, and the arts will be a critical piece of my revitalization and economic development strategy.

3. Arts Education + Programs for our Youth

Students with arts instruction are 3x more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, less likely to be absent, 5x more likely to graduate, and 44% less likely to use drugs.

Do you support arts education as a statewide priority? If so, how will you champion arts education for our youth?

In an environment that is very focused on STEM education I believe that it is important to remember the incredible impact that the arts can have on young students. When I was a volunteer teacher at Harding High School the principal told me that she supported the arts because she believed that students need to find something that they excel at, and something that inspires them to come to school every day. As a young man, the arts gave me the confidence boost that I needed and I believe that they will do that for others as well.

I will champion arts education by working with local leaders, the private sector and the legislature to ensure that more of our young people and communities have access to arts education. Through my own visits as governor and by speaking out in support of diverse programming, I will help people across Connecticut recognize that the arts are interconnected to economic development and the well-being of our residents, helping people realize their value beyond the aesthetic.

4. Arts + Attracting/Retaining Talent

People want to live in culturally vibrant cities, and the arts and cultural scene influences in which city skilled workers want to work. They want to go to festivals, attend arts events, listen to live music, eat great food and meet interesting people. It’s a main reason why, according to a study by City Observatory, the number of college educated people age 25 to 34 living within three miles of city centers is up 37 percent since 2000, even as the total population of these neighborhoods has slightly shrunk.

How do you see the role of arts and culture in Connecticut’s effort to attract and retain a talented workforce?

After GE left Connecticut I lead a group that was tasked with asking and answering the question: why? GE talked about our crumbling infrastructure, but they also talked about the difficulty in attracting young talent to their suburban campus. They said they could have better attracted these young people by having more of a presence in our urban communities because many young people want to live in vibrant cities. Part of what makes for a vibrant, livable city is a thriving arts community. Thriving arts that contribute to vibrant cities are key to attracting and keeping a talented young workforce, and thus are key to attracting and keeping all kinds of businesses and industries to Connecticut.

5. Arts + Return on Investment

The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $80 million in revenue to local and state government. Yet the state recently allocated only $4.2 million for arts and culture in next year’s budget, which represents a 60% decrease since 2009.

Will you support increased state arts funding building on this return on investment? If so, at what level and from what funding source?

Connecticut is facing a major fiscal crisis, and the next governor is going to have to make many tough decisions. With this in mind, while I cannot commit to increasing arts funding for the next fiscal year, I will commit to not decreasing funding for the arts and will actively work with my own network and our leaders statewide to support the arts and communicate the aesthetic and real economic value of the arts and culture industry.

6. Arts + Tourism

Each year arts and cultural events attract 10 million attendees with 15% coming from outside the state and 59% of those tourists coming specifically for arts and culture.

Beyond featuring arts and culture in marketing efforts, how would you further capitalize on the arts as a cornerstone to CT’s vital tourism industry?

There is an opportunity to grow the number of visitors from out of state who attend our arts and cultural events. I would work closely with the Offices of Culture and Tourism to promote Connecticut’s reputation as an arts and culture destination regionally and nationally. Local leaders know their communities, and I will work with the CT Arts Alliance, the CT Alliance for Arts Education, your communities and local leaders to have conversations with the artists, restaurateurs and other cultural entrepreneurs who can offer the best insights on how the state can support their work. I will be a governor that listens.

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