Candidate Questionnaire: Mary Mushinsky

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 have not benefitted from the arts in recent months due to an intense workload of constituent cases. Three thousand people were unemployed in Wallingford and many needed temporary benefits. I have missed the concerts of Wallingford Symphony Orchestra and Friday night visits to New Britain Museum of American Art.

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 favor the addition of art in publicly funded projects, and tried and failed to keep the 1% for the arts requirement from being removed. I would support restoring this measure, first championed by the late Rep. David Lavine of Durham.

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?

We had been using the arts to strengthen families to handle stress, improve resiliency, avoid loneliness and avoid substance abuse at the Coalition for a Better Wallingford, the drug/alcohol prevention group. We had to stop the young artist presentations for social distancing reasons. Recently, a group of musicians toured Ashlar Village in Wallingford on a flatbed truck to cheer the residents, who have been socially isolated by the pandemic. There is a young performers’ school in Wallingford that has been lifting spirits by performing in front of the building.

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 a unifying force for racial and ethnic harmony. When I attended, the only class of students in the Alternate Route to (Teacher) Certification program that was racially and ethnically diverse was the group of future music teachers. This diversity has also been apparent, in my experience, in regional music events, dance performances and theatre.

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?

Artists and service workers may be unable to earn a living until a vaccine is available and distributed. We will need additional federal unemployment benefits for these people, who are up to 20% of the population. It is doubtful that CT can support these workers’ jobless benefits indefinitely, but I have been successful at retraining workers through job programs that teach additional skills to allow them to improve their income. I will continue to try and include spending for the arts in publicly-funded projects.

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

%d bloggers like this: