Candidate Questionnaire: Robert Bell


The pandemic has been challenging for so many in CT and in so many ways.

How have you personally benefitted from the arts or creative expression in the last few months? What local arts experiences have you missed most during the shutdown?

I’ve had the benefit of purchasing new art pieces from local artists such as Dan Topalis of Wauregan Gallery, Steve Starke of Starke Art, and Lucia Maria of Enzo Studios. All the pieces are in my office space. I miss First Friday Gallery openings the most. Although we did have a First Friday event earlier this Month, a lot of the Galleries were still closed.


CT can’t recover without the arts. Arts and culture are key for CT’s economic recovery. Creative industries pump $9 billion into the state and account for 3.5% of CT’s total economy. Our non-profit arts organizations support 23,000 jobs, generate $800 million annually, and return $7 back in tax revenue for every $1 invested by the state.

How will you help harness the power of the arts for CT’s economic recovery?

By stepping out of the way and helping to remove any barriers that make it more difficult for the Arts to thrive. I will make sure the Arts are not forgotten or pushed to the side when budgets are proposed.


Creativity helps us process loss, fight loneliness, and create vibrant, resilient communities that attract and retain residents, businesses, and visitors.

What do you think is an important role for arts and culture to play in healing and rebuilding the social fabric of our cities and towns?

Community gatherings filled with multiple pallets of art, introduce people to the other minds, and hearts of it’s Citizens. Festivals, Art Shows, Theatrical Performances, and First Friday events bring the Community together and help build pride in a community. This increased pride, produces care and respect for all.


The pandemic has deepened existing divides in Connecticut, particularly along the lines of race and class. The arts create shared experiences that can unite people and bridge divides to acknowledge the strength in our differences.

Do you believe the arts can help build racial and social justice in Connecticut? If so, how?

Absolutely. By sharing our talents, we broaden our minds and help build friendships and understanding of different cultures. Understanding one another helps bridge the divide.


With 62% of artists unemployed and most arts organizations unable to reopen, the industry needs emergency support to recover and thrive. CT’s arts and culture sector has suffered an estimated $400 million in economic losses.

Will you support emergency funding to support the arts industry in Connecticut? If so, from what source and at what level?

I will support arts organizations to the best of my ability. We are facing some tough economic times. MANY organizations in many different fields are suffering and will all need emergency help. Some will not see as much as they are going to need and some are going to receive priority funding or assistance. I will work with arts organizations to find the most support I can possibly give as a State Representative.

Create the Vote CT is a nonpartisan public education campaign to raise awareness and support for the arts among voters and candidates running for public office. CT Arts Alliance launched the first Create the Vote CT during the gubernatorial election in 2018 and inspired focus on the arts during Governor Lamont’s transition and helped stabilize statewide public funding for the first time since the Great Recession. The initiative was originally conceived and developed at MASSCreative, a state arts advocacy organization in Massachusetts.

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