- 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?
As a Chester resident, I’ve missed the Collamore Music Series and movie theatres (especially the Madison Art House) the most. I’ve taken refuge form the madness of the world in British period dramas – a guilty pleasure!
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 have been outspoken with my caucus and the governor’s office about continued cuts to non-profits, and while during the pandemic most of the focus is on those non-profits that provide social services, the arts are no less instrumental. As we face widespread mental health issues, arts can be a way to stave off depression. I will advocate for art funding as a way of kick-starting the economy and helping people in less tangible ways. So much emphasis is put on restaurants as economic drivers, and far too little focus has been on shuttered arts venues
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 touched on this above. Communal gatherings to enjoy the arts are vital. The social isolation is getting very, very hard to take, and arts-based gatherings alleviate that stress. The Town of Chester started a family film series outside because it can be socially distanced. I hope there is a way for plays and live performances to be done in a new way – I remember how exciting the performances at Shakespeare at the Mount were – where the acting was incorporated into the landscape – people up in trees, etc.
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?
Yes, I do, because while political (small “p”) in nature, in that arts are subversive acts, they can avoid Politics (capital “P”) and still get their message across. I think the Hamilton phenomenon (which I wish could influence audiences to be open to other, different productions with smaller casts) has proven this. People who are made uncomfortable by political confrontation will tolerate the same message if delivered in a costume, on a stage, or in song. This should not be the case, but it is. It helps move the dial.
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 absolutely support this in theory. The issue is the state is broke (as you well know) and appropriating funds for anything that people do not see as literally saving lives will be a tough call. But I will advocate for this. The rainy day fund is flush, but will diminish fast. I will advocate for some of that to go toward arts funding.
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.