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 personally benefited from several online performances and artistic events including Juneteenth with the Amistad Center. Although the online performances are not the same, the interaction by individuals during the performance online makes you feel connected with the other viewers. I also have been inspired by the Quasar Flag painting in West Hartford as well as the Black Lives Matter murals in Hartford and Bloomfield. I miss local live theatre and musical performances especially the Playhouse on Park.
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 previous Executive Director of a non-profit, I understand that arts and culture organizations themselves best understand what is needed. Therefore, arts and culture organizations and artists themselves need to be a part of the economic recovery decision-making table. Artists themselves bring different perspectives to solutions out of crisis, and are also a critical part of our economic engine and need to be included as such. Here in the 20th District, I want to be an advocate for our arts and culture organizations but also the many artists in our community. I can elevate their voice to state agencies, fellow legislators, the Governor’s Office, and the federal delegation. West Hartford recently relaunched our town’s Commission on the Arts and this is an additional way for me to partner with our artistic community.
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?
During my primary election, I spoke with many voters who are musicians and artists in the 20th District. I remember speaking with Mark who teaches theatre at the University of Hartford. We spoke about how meaningful arts is for our community and we imagined the time post-COVID when there would be an overwhelming excitement to participate in and experience artistic performances again. This conversation with Mark reminded me just how much we can’t wait for the arts and culture in our lives. It is essential as we go through this crisis. I would welcome community-based arts activities that can bring neighborhoods together around a shared artistic activity. I think this is essential for any intergenerational and inter-cultural engagement and people want to connect with each other (although socially-distanced) 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?
The arts create shared experiences and you can see that even recently in the power of Black Lives Matter art in Hartford and Bloomfield. It is also not just the final product of the art piece but also the process and the community-building during the process. As we discuss ways of addressing our state’s deep inequalities and how we bring racial justice into our laws, our communities need the arts to build lasting relationships and trust. If not involved currently, artists and arts organizations should be a part of the implementation of the new statewide curriculum of African American/Black and Puerto Rican/Latino studies. I am familiar with organizations such as Hartford Performs, which trains teachers on everyday techniques of how arts improves learning. These techniques can not only be useful in other classrooms but also in how this new curriculum is developed to address racial and social justice issues.
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 do support emergency funding to support the arts industry because of the disproportionate impact on the function of arts organizations. The CARES Act through the CT Office of the Arts provided very minimal funding for organizations. Further economic recovery funding must be secured from our federal government for distribution and CT should pursue additional state funds to assist where there are gaps. I welcome feedback on what level of funding is appropriate for CT given the current grants, philanthropic dollars, and where the gaps are both short-term and long-term for the sector. Especially as we approach colder weather, people will want and seek more experiences to stay connected and arts can play a key role in that for our communities and state. I also think any relief funding must consider equity in distribution and the realities that many artists of color or arts organizations of color might not have the same relationships or current physical venues.
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.