- 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?
One of the reasons my family settled In Old Lyme was the town’s rich history as the birthplace of American Impressionism. We often visit the Florence Griswold museum and I took many of my campaign photos on the artist’s walk behind the building. I have missed the ability to take a few hours on the weekend visiting the latest exhibit and I am glad that things are opening up. My personal form of artistic expression Is writing and I used the beginning months of the pandemic to dust off some old manuscripts and get back Into It. It was a wonderful way to relieve tensions.
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?
My district includes the town of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. Between the aforementioned Florence Griswold museum, the “Kate” Performing Arts Center and the various galleries in all four towns, the tourism dollars that the arts bring have been particularly diminished in my towns. Massachusetts and other states have recognized that an investment in the arts is an investment in the economy and I would endeavor toincludefunds for recovery of the sector in any relief package created.
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?
From my perspective the arts have been particularly helpful in my children’s adjustment to life with COVID. My daughter (named Frida, after artist Frida Kahlo) has been particularly reliant upon painting and drawing to express her fears and anxiety about starting kindergarten under the shroud of COVID. I think her example serves as a lesson: we could all find solace in the arts in one form or another. And as referenced above, investment in the arts is investment in the community: It gives us the opportunity to heal and build at the same time.
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?
As a human rights lawyer, I have been an active participant in Black Lives Matter rallies in the region and helped organize the rally of some 400-500 people in Old Lyme. I don’t think there is an easy answer to our racial justice issues, but I think the arts are among the powerful ways that existing racial/ethnic representations, messages and stories are created and shared. They are also useful tools for engaging with audiences around racial equity topics, and in support of transformative learning.
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?
As noted above, there are both moral and economic reasons to financially support the art Industry. I firmly believe that an Investment In culture Is an Investment In community and an Invest In community Is an Investment In the future. I cannot fix a firm number on what level I would support the arts at because the firststep would be to ensure that we secure more revenue for the state. Whether that comes In the form of federal funding or tax revenues will be determined by where we land when all Is said and done. Suffice to say that In my district In particular an Investment In the arts Is a winning Investment so I would do my best bring the arts back.
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.