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 are an important part of community. I have missed the opportunity to attend art events at Gallery 21, a Town sponsored art organization for regional artists I helped establish at a more accessible location in our Downtown. I have missed local music performances that would have occurred throughout the summer at various venues including our Town Green, The Silo, and Merryall Center for the Arts.
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 Mayor, I supported the creation of a the Barn Quilt Trail, a series of art installations placed ion barns throughout New Milford that showcased artist talent, brought attention to local farms, and encouraged tourism. We were able to do this by collaborating with private art groups and municipal support in the form of funding and resources. There are many local non-profits and artists with ideas to promote art and culture. I would use the resources of the State to make those ideas a reality, the way we did in New Milford, to support local artists and communities.
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?
Supporting the use of public spaces for art that heals and challenges is an important public responsibility. I would work with local municipalities to identify forums for events and installations that showcase talent, address the issues and loss we are feeling, and promote constructive dialogue to help our communities move forward.
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?
Yes, as I noted above, the art helps express the pain and anguish in a way that simple words cannot convey. In that sense, a piece of art or an installation can bring buried feelings to the surface and spur dialogue bridging what often seems like a wide divide. As an elected representative, I would engage help foster the dialogue and make the ideas for events/installations a reality.
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?
Yes, similar to the WPA during the Great Depression, Government can benefit from employing artists and creating work that inspires, as well as fulfills a function. I would promote contracting with the artist community in State projects ranging from road construction, bridge repair, rehabilitating buildings and schools, etc.
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.