Candidate Questionnaire: Jonathan Steinberg


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 community has an extensive Arts heritage.  I’ve really missed the Levitt Pavilion concerts this summer, but also performances at the Playhouse, exhibitions at MoCa, activities at the Library and many other community-based arts.  The one bright spot has been the Remarkable Theater, of which I’m a board member, drive-in movies which have been very well received.


CT can’t recover without the arts. Arts and culture are key for CT’s economic recovery. Creative industries pump $9billion 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 work closely with the directors of Westport’s Arts organizations and formerly was intimately involved on the Town’s Arts planning group.  But I have to acknowledge that, on the State level, funding for the Arts will remain imperiled because of competing urgent needs for healthcare, social and economic funding exacerbated by 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?

Arts ARE Community and they keep us focused on common cause and values, let alone keep us sane!  That’s why I’ve encourage each organization to develop plans to continue engaging the community despite the virus.


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?

Arts, at its best, reflect our community’s diversity and values.  Tackling thorny issues of race and justice stimulate the community conversations essential for real change.  I count on the Arts to provoke thoughtful discussions about the manifestations of the problem and potential solutions.


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?

Tough one, and I don’t like to overpromise.  As I’ve said, it will remain a struggle convincing my colleagues that the Arts are a need to have, not a nice to have.  It starts with the Arts organizations advocating vociferously on their own behalf.  You need to remind every candidate of the critical role of the Arts in their towns and the ramifications of failing to support them.  You can count on me to be in the vanguard promoting Arts funding, but it will be hard.

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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