Candidate Questionnaire: Tony Sutton


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?

Quarantine provided me with more time to discuss film and theatre with my 18-year-old daughter, a recent graduate of the Theatre Program at the ACES Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven. Prior to the pandemic, we often spoke about films and plays that were important and/or meaningful to each other, as I studied filmmaking in high school and college. Being at home during quarantine allowed us to sit together and share the experience of watching these works together and discussing them. It was mutually inspirational.


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 believe government – state, local, and federal – should provide financial support to arts organizations and promote the arts as a tourism/entertainment attraction, as well as promote arts education in schools. Private donors are a key component, but more is needed. I would support greater funding for arts programs by the state.  Increased funding for non-profit arts organizations would allow for more arts-related jobs and provide local revenue for municipalities that benefit from being the locale for exhibitions, performances, and events.


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 COVID-19 pandemic and our state’s necessary (and successful) efforts in response have isolated individuals and families. The inability to socialize and interact with one’s community, while now gradually lessening, undoubtedly darkened our collective mood and demeanor.  As we expand our ability to safely gather as communities, the arts should take center stage (sorry- couldn’t help it). Whether it be concerts on a town green, plays in the park, or the ability to admire public installations in our towns and cities, the comfort of a shared experience though the arts will help heal and reconnect our communities. Art brings light and life, even when we do not realize it.


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?

Absolutely. As I said above, art brings light and life, but it also holds a mirror to our society and challenges us. Exposure to art that allows a person to understand, or at least get a glimpse into, issues, lifestyles, customs, and experiences previously unknown or misunderstood to them can unite our communities and bridge divides based upon race and class.


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?

Yes. Arts organizations must be a recipient of any emergency funding bill/program enacted by the next session of the legislature. The state must recognize the arts as an essential part of our economic recovery and the recovery of our collective morale. Cities and towns must follow suit.

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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