Candidate Questionnaire: David Michel

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?

With a mother painter and musician, and myself a former painter and singer for a band, I am of course in complete understanding of the benefits the community gains when art is present. I have missed going to Franklin Street Works which closed following the pandemic :(. I also try to promote the Ferguson library and its art exhibits in my e-blasts. I give that type of support from my office in order to make my listing of emails aware of who to reach out to.

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 will not pretend that I know much about how the arts are sponsored by the state from our state legislature, except for funding. However, to include more art in our parks and pay artists to either buy or lease their art (via municipal), and also getting artists to design Ahstrays in the parks were ideas I have had for a long time. There should be some funding for bringing more young local musicians into our parks (after pandemic), and also more joint efforts with the universities, hospitals and big companies that have tons of employees working in front of a computer all day.

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?

I have seen arts and music shared virtually in meetings and where people are brought together to discuss their interpretations are simply enjoying the arts together each seeing or hearing their own interpretation..as much as the interpretation is is personnal, it is something that can be enjoyed while being with others virtually or in person. The healing is also crucial..some beautiful Zen Buddhist music or looking in various shades of colors and forms, the brain goes on a while different path than we are constantly on all day with our daily activities, our NEW routines and it is very important to bring that up with others..and share the importance of the arts.

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 dierences. Do you believe the arts can help build racial and social justice in Connecticut? If so, how?

All sorts of initiatives are going on around the state, from the beautiful BLM painting on the road near the Capitol to more statues in parks. Artist expressions of unity and social justice are more than needed today in such a divisive time. It can help us remember that we are all really in some ways fighting for some form of fairness and that is where the individuals differ one from another, but to be reminded that from all angles w can find beauty, relaxation, excitement around arts is only but to mirror our abilities as humans that we do not use enough.

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 suered 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?

That’s a good question. I don’t have a potential source for funds right now outside of bonds, new taxes or the rainy day fund.

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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