Candidate Questionnaire: Susan Johnson

  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 benefitted from the arts or creative expression in the last few months? What local arts experiences have you missed most during the shutdown?

I enjoy going to the Hartford Stage, Jorgenson, Bushnell and Windham Theater Guild and from time to time museum tours.  All have been closed due to the pandemic.

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 something that the Appropriations Committee should investigate with the Department of Economic and Community Development.  This is also a matter for our school systems to work at educating our children about the arts with more funds for the before and after school programs.

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? 

Cooperative efforts with schools and municipalities hosting theatre, concerts and visual arts shows outside with families participating.  People should donate to pay for the shows if they have the funds.  Foundations may help pay too. Towns and schools can make the outside space available.

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 in our urban schools should be available to all students.  At this time arts are not required.  It might be best to make the arts a requirement in all Connecticut schools.  Underfunded urban areas suffer the most. This would mean that urban schools should receive more funds for special ARTS GRANTS.

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?

A complete look at all the deficiencies we are going to suffer for the fiscal years 2021-2022 should include the Arts.  Emotional Intelligence training can easily incorporate all art forms. In our schools.  Theatre can be helpful with character development as a way to instruct students on how to properly interact with each other.  Visual arts can help inform students regarding math and visual perspective.  Music is another language and another way for students to be creative.  Without these opportunities students have a very limited understanding of the universe.  The Arts help with brain development.  We miss a lot if we fail our youth by not giving them a complete education that includes

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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