Candidate Questionnaire: Aimee Berger-Girvalo

1. YOUR PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE ARTS

The pandemic has been challenging for so many in CT and in so many ways. How have you personally benefited from the arts or creative expression in the last few months? What local arts experiences have you missed most during the shutdown? 

As a live music and theater obsessed (former) performer, myself, prior to Covid-19, it’s difficult to recall a month in my adulthood when I didn’t see some sort of live performance. Watching live streamed performances from musicians and theater groups has saved my kids and me from falling into utter despair while isolated from our friends and family. We were pretty regular ticket holders at all kinds of local venues, especially the one right here in our ton, the Ridgefield Playhouse.

2. ARTS + ECONOMIC RECOVERY

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?

While all of this is scary, it is that statistic — 23,000 jobs — that frightens me the most. How can we expect 23,000 people to find work in an industry that isn’t viable? We have an opportunity in the arts, perhaps more than in any other area, to capture the hearts and minds, and therefore the support of the residents of Connecticut. Finding new ways to create experiences in the arts that meet the criteria for Covid-safe gatherings, is critical. And the only way it can be done is with the collaboration of the artists and organizers of the arts, themselves. These groups and non-profits MUST have a seat at this table as we move forward, into what could be some pretty permanent changes. 

3. ARTS HEAL + REBUILD

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?

Back when we went on “lockdown”, I started singing in my backyard, to my Facebook friends. Every night at 6pm, out to my backyard I went, with a different cover of some song that helped me and my kids get through our day. From March 16th to June 1st — 78 days straight — I sang. Often, my son would join me on percussion. I would take requests. And people from my town, and even a few from an hour or so away, would come and park their cars on the road next to my yard, and sing along. It gave me something to feel good about, every single day. And so many people messaged me to tell me they opened up FB at 6, every night, just to sing along from home. My music healed me — even on the days when I didn’t sound so good, or feel so good (during our very mild brush with Covid). And I know that so many others found the same healing, with other performers and fine art institutions and their online offerings. Opportunities to come together through the arts are the  key to finding common ground at a time when we need it more than ever.

4. ARTS SUPPORT RACIAL & SOCIAL JUSTICE

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?

Exposure to diverse experiences and cultures through the arts is a critical element in uniting people across these differences. Telling stories through music and theater and fine art has always been a way to affect change and to open up a dialogue.

5. CT NEEDS HELP FROM THE ARTS

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, indeed, support emergency funding for the arts. While I understand that finding sources of funding will not be easy in these unprecedented times, we must look at the artists and employees of these organizations as we do every other industry, and do whatever we can to help them, not only to survive through this recovery period, but also eventually to thrive again. Drawing visitors and new residents to a state begins with cultural offerings. Rebuilding our arts community is so important, and Connecticut will only be better for it.

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.

Regional Partners

%d bloggers like this: