Candidate Questionnaire: Christopher Bowen

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?

The arts have proven critical to society as people have been forced into their homes for longer periods of time. 



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?

It’s one thing to “harness” the power of the arts. But I struggle to find a solution that involves giving limited taxpayer resources towards this solution, especially considering many of the arts being consumed are created by for-profit companies; Fox gets better ratings than PBS. We must consider our priorities as we recover from COVID.



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?

In Seymour, there has been a wonderful combination between our downtown artists – we have a vibrant antique district – and other stakeholders such as Seymour Pink that have done much to beautify our downtown area, and keep spirits high during these tough times. Our schoolchildren have also been all over it with spirit rocks.



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?

By allowing people to express themselves with art – even art that one would consider controversial – we allow people to be heard, others to be reached, and for people to pick sides at times like this, when there is a clear right and wrong side to the pressing issues of our time.


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?

As noted elsewhere in this survey, I am forced to consider priorities. The Lower Naugatuck Valley was a distressed area before the pandemic, and it has become notably more stressful on our citizens. The state has an ample supply of “rainy day” funds available, but we must use those funds to prioritize people in all facets of society who are hanging on. I cannot consider funding of specific arts projects outside of art programs in schools to be a high priority considering this.

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

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