Candidate Questionnaire: Mary Fortier

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 don’t consider myself an artistic or creative person and while I admire those who are, I don’t often personally place a priority on seeking out artistic or creative experiences.  However, I am a season subscriber to Hartford Stage, and have definitely missed those productions during shutdown.

CT can’t recover without the arts. Arts and culture are key to 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 absolutely agree that arts and culture are an economic driver in CT and are important to our recovery.  As a city council member I was part of a long hard fight to save and restore our iconic theatre in our 1922 Memorial Boulevard School.  Renovations are underway to restore the theatre and create an arts magnet school.  As a new senator I don’t have specific plans but will support investment in the arts, especially to support their continued existence as we emerge from the pandemic.

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?

As someone who is not a creative person, I would leave that to those with more experience and creativity than myself.

The pandemic has deepened 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?

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Through visual arts as well as books and productions people are able to see and experience the differences and perspectives of others.  These are always needed, but even more so now.

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 definitely support emergency funding to the CT arts industry.  Unfortunately, as someone not yet in the state senate I am not sure from what source or at what level.  Based on the tenacity with which your organization solicited this questionnaire, I am sure your members will give me ideas if I become a senator.

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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