Candidate Questionnaire: Noreen KoKoruda

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?

I have limited any travel outside of town over the last few months. My husband and I miss attending concerts with NHSO and enjoying the theater in New Haven, whether it be Shubert or Long Wharf. We have long been fans of Ivoryton Playhouse and Godspeed. We have not been in a museum since last February.

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?

I believe that state government has finally recognized Art, Culture and Preservation as economic drivers. Our new DECD Commissioner, David Lehman spoke to us about his support when he first started. This virus has appeared to have stopped any action. I sit on the Appropriations and after sitting through public hearings on funding Arts and Humanities, everything just stopped and no work or votes were taken this year. Hopefully in January we will start with a new Lamont proposed budget that funds the Arts.  

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?

Arts and Culture enriches every community. I remember how much The Festival of Arts and Ideas brought people together. We need to reinvent programs like that. Encouraging schools to be part of cultural programs is so important for all students but especially those in low performing districts. Small towns do this by building partnerships with local not for profits such as our library and Historical Society’s. Schools do budget for cultural programs but those dollars should be expanded.

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?

Definitely the Arts can be a major factor in addressing social injustices. Prioritizing programs for everyone, regardless of ability to pay, is critical. Taking down barriers for people to be involved with art programs and exposing more people to art education and careers is important.

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?

This question is hard to answer until the fiscal condition of the state is released. Before COVID 19 we were expecting this year to be in deficit of about $2- 3B. As an Appropriations Committee I am painfully aware of the lack of flexibility in spending due to fixed costs. Setting budgets is about setting priorities. I will continue to work with and advocate for those representing the arts industry.

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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