Candidate Questionnaire: Norm Needleman

  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?

My home is filled with music from show tunes to country music, jazz, rock and roll, classical … all day, every day. That’s because my life partner, Jacqueline Hubbard, is the Artistic Director of The Ivoryton Playhouse. But our everyday immersion in creative expression goes beyond music. We constantly review plays, dramatic performances, auditions, and musical theater productions as part of the selection process for Playhouse performances. Every aspect of the theater…the music, the artists, the plays, the performances…is deeply personal to us.

As for local arts experiences, it goes without saying that I greatly miss Ivoryton Playhouse live performances…as both cultural experiences and community events. As a board member and the treasurer of the Ivoryton Playhouse, the sudden cancellation of an entire season is devastating. But as a lover of theater and music, I feel a deep sense of loss for an extraordinary local cultural event now (temporarily) missing from our community. It is fair to say that I know from firsthand experience the value of the arts as cultural and community events.

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 continue my strong advocacy and support for the arts in our communities. I will support and strongly advocate for state grants to non-profit arts organizations, and to support the continued funding of the Connecticut Office of the Arts, The Connecticut Arts Council & Foundation, and the Culture & Tourism Advisory Committee. As a board member and officer of a non-profit arts organization, nothing is more important to me than ensuring that the arts community at the state level and at the local level is able to thrive in a supportive and appreciative environment.

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?

The arts have a broad and lasting impact on the social fabric or our communities. First, and hugely important, the arts give individuals in every medium…music, theater, visual arts, painting, sculpture, literary arts, crafts…the ability to express themselves through their work. As importantly, all of these artistic forms have an impact on the community. They entertain, inform, challenge, and thrill everyone they reach. In that regard, they are irreplaceable enhancements to the culture of every community. Artistic expression in every form has the extraordinary ability to provide refuge and respite from everyday pressures, and, conversely, bring focus and perspective to social and cultural issues. The arts are truly integral to the social fabric of every community.

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?

You said it better than I can in the text of your question: the arts create shared experiences that can unite people and bridge divides to acknowledge the strength in our differences. It is often through the eyes of an artist…a musician, a painter, a poet, a novelist…that we gain new insight and perspective on an issue. That perspective sheds light on parallels in our own lives and helps create new understanding of the relevance and impact of a social issue, on a personal and a community level. In one sense, artistic expression has the extraordinary ability to enhance vision and sensitivity in its audiences and create common cause. That’s how the arts unites people and brings them together.

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?

I will unequivocally be supporting emergency funding to support the arts industry in Connecticut.

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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