Candidate Questionnaire: Kate Donnelly

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?

I have benefited greatly from the arts during the Covid shutdown period that so many people have so generously shared through this period, mostly accessing the performances and visual art via social media. These range from dance performances to theater performances to tours of art installations and dramatic readings. My daughter’s “daily dance” on Instagram are my favorite performances from Oakland, CA. I’ve missed live dance and music performances as well as visiting museums. Challenging times like these are being met with creative solutions because the arts are so necessary to a civilized and humane experience in everyone’s lives.

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?

This is a great question. I believe as a state legislator my role would be to be sure that the arts are adequately funded and promoted as a statewide attraction. I would look to artists for guidance in how to effectively fund artists and harness the power of the arts. To assist in this effort, I would also encourage artists to take advantage of the many ways they can promote, publicize and present their art to a wider audience safely.

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?

Every art form – visual, musical, kinetic, tactile – have served over millennia to help us feel, enjoy and better understand our common humanity. The Arts are a powerful elixir for bringing people together and healing that which great divides us. We are all missing the performances, fairs, events that make our towns and cities who we are. Live steaming and access to online performance and arts will help each of us in profound ways to help us. When the arts are allowed to flourish again in person, it will enhance our mental and emotional health.

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?

I believe that the arts can play a vital role in promoting racial and social justice in Connecticut. Artists of color and their work should play a prominent role in public expression of creativity in all forms and venues. The recent Black Lives Matter mural in Bloomfield and the James Baldwin mural in Arizona exemplify the power bringing the message to the people in neighborhoods. It is important to fund and support artists of color and the venues they perform in. I support bringing arts with a message to schools across the state, spreading the message of racial and social justice.

James Baldwin said it best, as he has so long ago for so many things.

“…The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”

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 would appropriate emergency funding for the Arts from the General Fund. We need to explore other effective, sustainable and long-term solutions to funding the Arts using a hybrid model public/private support and incentivizing individuals to donate, especially in difficult economic times. Engaged dialogue and action involving all stakeholders in required to find effective solutions. Yes, our state needs help from the Arts, and the Arts need help from our state. We are bound together in this mutual endeavor.


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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