Candidate Questionnaire: Christine Cohen

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 pandemic brought an abrupt halt to many of the activities that we know and love. For my family, that meant being unable to attend local shows and forego those season tickets that I have had to the Goodspeed for several years. That meant giving up the music lessons that my children participate in and not seeing the play, The Wizard of Oz, that my daughter had been cast in for her school and practicing for months. That meant hearing from the disappointed students participating in the high school theatre arts programs across my district and sharing in their heartbreak not being able to attend the shows that I had purchased tickets for. That meant the abrupt halt of music instrument lessons and the steady sound of melodies and harmonies that have echoed my hallways. That meant not attending the fundraisers that became a part of my calendar and I enjoyed so much or sitting on the local greens for bands, art shows and theatre productions. All of these missed events and moments are heartbreaking in review, but I’ve been incredibly grateful for the creative ways in which the arts have come into our lives these past months. I was thrilled to see dancers getting creative with performances virtually and acapella groups bringing us joy over zoom or on YouTube videos. We are down, but we aren’t out. These special performances help fill the void of live theatre and production while we remain hopeful for a return to normalcy.

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?

As a member of the Arts and Tourism Caucus, I wholeheartedly believe in the ability of the arts to help rebuild Connecticut’s economy. We have to ensure the health and vitality of these organizations first before they are expected to create the vibrancy of our dimming economy. We do that by getting venues back on their feet safely and efficiently. We borrow on each other’s resources and fundraising tactics. We incentivize and promote awareness to the broad CT community and provide that destination that folks are desperate for. The state’s latest marketing campaign, “It’s so good to see you, Connecticut” plays perfectly into this as we describe the attractions as they open and the importance to our culture and history, but most importantly to our future healing and recovery. I will be interested in learning more about how I can help support efforts surrounding economic recovery and the arts.

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?

I eluded to this in my first response above, but having the opportunity to connect with others through the arts has been an important part of my social and emotional well-being during the pandemic. I know this has been the case for other members of my family and I can imagine it is vital for much of the community at large as well. We need connections more than ever before right now. We’re craving social interactions and escapes from the serious news that bombards our inboxes and television screens daily. The creativity of various organizations has been a testament to resiliency. I believe these temporary, new ways of bringing the arts to the people are in many cases the lifelines that people are grasping for right now.

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?

Absolutely! The arts is an educational tool and opportunity for understanding and connection. Through different cultural experiences we invite shared learning and build bridges. Additionally, at the most basic level, we restore communities with the addition of theatres, studios, concert halls and more. Through incentive programs to rehabilitate buildings, we can realize the potential of a community through new and exciting venues that bring about hope and opportunity.

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 absolutely support the arts industry and its funding in Connecticut. Together with my colleagues we’ve been working with local organizations to hon in on needs as each situation is a bit different. I am asking important questions about dormant grant pools, in the wake of the pandemic, that are potentially viable options in providing a lifeline to struggling organizations. As a member of the Arts & Tourism Caucus and a lover of the arts, I am committed to working with the Connecticut Arts Alliance and our tourism council to ensure that our arts and culture sector becomes as vibrant as it ever was prior to COVID.


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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