Candidate Questionnaire: Will Haskell


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 from the arts greatly during these last few months, as embracing creative expression has helped me personally cope with the atrocities, both mental and more tangible, that this pandemic has created. Attending shows at the Westport Country Playhouse and the Summer Theatre of New Canaan are just a couple of the experiences I miss being able to enjoy at their fullest potential.


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?

In order for Connecticut to recover from everything this pandemic has thrown at us, fostering the growth of the arts in our communities is imperative. I will help harness the power of the arts for CT’s economic recovery by further encouraging and supporting Endowment Funds that arts organizations receive. Just this past February, four local arts organizations in my district received funding through the Connecticut Arts Endowment Fund, including New England Dance Theater and Silvermine Guild of Artists, Inc. These organizations received more than $15,000 and undoubtedly helped propel the arts in my community forward. I am grateful that the Department of Economic and Community Development is so committed to our region. Since the pandemic hit, I am lucky to have been able to visit local organizations and support these small arts businesses as best I can.


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?

The arts and culture play an incredibly crucial role in the healing and rebuilding of the social fabric of my district. The arts and creative expression is, without a doubt, one of the most efficient ways to bring people together, especially during times of crisis. Whether it’s theater, music, galleries and more, the arts and culture in our communities will generate a sense of warmth and passion that will be quite healing.


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 strongly believe that the arts can help build racial and social justice in Connecticut because, like I mentioned above, artistic and creative opportunities bridge the gaps between all sorts of differences and through any and all hardships that are presented.


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 support emergency funding to the arts industry in my district. In the past, I have been active in opposing a wide array of cuts to vial programs that I think will help Connecticut flourish. When there is a local arts organization in need, I will make sure that it is taken care of. The Department of Economic and Community Development has already proved their commitment to my district and will continue to do so through the pandemic and beyond.

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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