Candidate Questionnaire: Jeff Desmarais


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?

For me the arts have kept my chin up, as it were. There is so much around us today with the Pandemic to stress us out, and to worry about. But arts, whether its listening to some of my favorite songs and acts, especially The Beatles, or reading a good book, like “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, or watching old movies and favorite shows, help to remember the good things in life.

I’ve missed live performances, some of the exhibitions, like the art exhibit at the Bethelehem Fair, and even going to the movies. I was very excited about the new Watertown Stage opening, I hope they can open soon.


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?

We need to help the Arts community recover from the damage to it done by the pandemic. We should look to state grants to organizations to help restore the vibrant and much needed arts communities in CT. They will in turn help us all return back to normal once its safe enough to do so. It is also essential to help because arts and culture are so important to the CT economy.


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?

Arts and culture are a center point for all of us. It is music; it is the visual arts; it is dance; it is television and film; it is literature. They are a part of our lives- a sign of normalcy during a turbulent time. We need them, not just econmically, but for our society as a whole, to know there are good and beautiful things still in the world.


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?

Arts reflect the HUMAN experience. They can teach us about each other, about people and groups with different backgrounds. We can learn so much about each other and ourselves as well through creative expression.


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 support using whatever resources that are available to the state government, including grants, yo support emergency funding to the arts. It makes sense from an economic standpoint, because there is a great return on investment to the economy, but more importantly, it is the heartbeat of our society. Arts and culture is how future genereations will remember us most. It is the best gift we can give them, and ourselves.

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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