Candidate Questionnaire: Alex Kasser

Q1 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?

As a State Senator, I haven’t had time to enjoy the arts as much as I would like because I’m focused on helping my constituents and the state get through this pandemic and hopefully come out better on the other side. But I grew up in a family committed to the arts and I miss museums, live theater and opera. I can’t wait for those to resume.

Q2 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?

I know that the arts are a major contributor to the state’s economy. And a major contributor to our quality of life as human beings. I met with a consortium of theaters a few weeks ago and pledged to help them in whatever way I can. I don’t have a “magic bullet” of funding, but I know that if we make our downtowns vibrant destinations – with continued outdoor dining – and invest in keeping theaters alive, we can create a more energy and support for these critical institutions.

Q3 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?

I absolutely agree that creativity is a necessary part of the human condition. Creativity allows us to express our humanity, process emotions and understand the experiences of other people. I would like to see community arts programs in urban areas that include young people and people of all ages. I’d also like to see collaborative art projects that integrate various communities – urban and suburban. We can heal when we come together as humans in a spirit of openness and trust.

Q4 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?

I know the arts can help build racial and social justice. I’ve witnessed it. A few months ago, I saw a coalition of artists and community members in Stamford come together and organize the creation of a large-scale mural at the main intersection in downtown Stamford. The result was beautiful and moving, but so was the process. So many people became involved, and the project created a sense of hope and joy for everyone. I was deeply moved by it and I know others were too. We are moving towards justice – but the closer we get the more resistance we receive

Q5 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 would support emergency funding but cannot specify a level because that depends on what is needed, what is available and how we balance these. But I am supportive!

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.

Regional Partners

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