Candidate Questionnaire: Len Suzio

1. 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?

Because of Covid‐19 and our ages (72) we’ve not been able to enjoy the arts as we usually do. However, in early 2020 we attended several musical performances (“Olde Church Acoustic Team Series”) in January and February. We’ve supported the Greater Middletown Chorale in recent years and we’ve also enjoyed the opera series in Middletown for years. My mother is a retired artist, having painted professionally for 40 years.

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?

The state budget is in dire straits with $7 billion of deficits forecast for the next biennium. It’s obvious that support for the arts more than ever will need to come from the private sector. The Suzio family has always supported the arts in numerous ways. At one time I was on the Board of the Chamber Orchestra of New England. I have cousins who also have actively supported the arts. As businesses recover, I think a well‐organized funding solicitation program would work. I also think legislation in the form of making donations to qualified arts organizations tax‐deductible for state income tax purposes

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?

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? A: There is no doubt the arts can help develop social cohesion through several means including dramatization of cultural issues and controversies that help an audience empathize with victims of abuse or discrimination.

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?

Undoubtedly the arts can play a role in unifying society. I am old enough to remember the drama “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” which featured the reaction of the parents of a white woman engaged to a black man. Ironically, one of my daughters is married to a black Hispanic and another daughter is married to a Turkish Muslim. (the conversation at our dinner table can be really interesting!), so I guess it was a foreshadowing of my experience 40 years later.

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 think the most realistic way the arts can be supported by legislative action would be to make contributions to qualified arts groups tax‐deductible for Connecticut state income tax purposes. While these contributions have been deductible for federal income tax purposes, they are not deductible for Connecticut state income tax purposes. I would introduce and support such legislation in the 2021 Session.

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.

Regional Partners

%d bloggers like this: