Candidate Questionnaire: Paul Honig

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?

We are a household of musicians and live theater lovers. My older son was part of the wonderful programs at the Warner Theater Center for the Performing arts, from the Young Actor’s Studio, through Performance Lab as a HS student. During quarantine, he continued to take piano lessons via ZOOM. We all miss the Broadway Series at the Bushnell Theater, which we subscribe to, as well as the Hartford Stage. We also miss the amazing local talent featured at the Warner Theater and live music at Infinity Hall and the wonderful outdoor concerts and events all over the Litchfield Hills.

2. ARTS + ECONOMIC RECOVERY CT 

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?

I think the arts are going to play a vital role in CT’s economic recovery. I know the arts and related industries (stage hands, lighting and sound techs, venue owners and staff, etc.) have been devastated by the canceling of events and shows. When the danger from the pandemic passes, we must support the arts and related industries in every way possible because they are vital to CT tourism and quality of life in the Northwest Corner.

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?

My mother was an elementary school art teacher and a prolific artist. Her work decorates my home. She understood the power of expression through art, especially with children. This pandemic has been especially hard on our kids. Artistic expression is an essential way for our youth to process their emotions around loss and strife, illness and loneliness. I support arts education in schools, and other programs for kids to explore their artistic expression.

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 are essential to educating people about racial and social justice. I have witnessed in our towns of the NWC, online and in person, that people are struggling with the concepts of racial and social justice. There is much work to be done and I believe the arts will play a major role. Years ago, my son was in a Warner Theater P-Lab production of The Laramie Project, which addresses violence against the LGBTQ community. Whether it’s theater, poetry, visual art, literature or music, the arts can be a catalyst for conversations around racial and social justice and lead to greater understanding. With the rich community of artists in the NWC, I look forward to seeing the artistic contributions to the greater conversation.

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?

As I am not yet in the legislature, I can only say that my commitment to the arts is strong. I intend to support the arts and related industries as I believe they are essential to CT’s culture and economic recovery.

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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