Candidate Questionnaire: Kevin Witkos

Q1. 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? 

Music is my go to stress reliever and a way I can unwind and relax, even if for a few minutes.  I have greatly missed live performances at places like the Warner Theatre in Torrington, Infinity Hall in Norfolk, or the Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center in Simsbury.  These venues produce and host amazing performances and there’s nothing like enjoying a play or concern at a venue and sharing the experience with family, friends, and neighbors. 

Q2. 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?

Without a doubt, the arts are a massive economic driver.  When places like performing arts centers, museums, galleries or similar entities are closed, businesses that rely on their patrons also suffer.   That said, as we move forward in the state’s re-opening plan which allows performing arts venues to open at 50% capacity, we can expect these related industries to reap the benefits as well.  It is critical that the Governor and the Office of the Arts recognize the full economic power of the arts and incorporate their unique needs into any and all re-opening plans. 

Q3. 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?

One of the best things about the arts is that they have the power to bring people from all different backgrounds together.  They also have the power to relay messages of unity and hope, and can highlight various issues and challenges through art, song, dance, and more. 

Q4. 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, the arts are a great way to build bridges between cultures, nationalities, and different walks of life.  It is important that people of all backgrounds be introduced to the various differences that we all have so that we can not only learn about each other, but recognize the challenges that different communities face.  One of the best things about the arts is that they are a conversation starter.  Some conversations may not be the easiest or most comfortable, but it is critical that we work towards a fair and equal society, and this can begin right in our local arts venues and organizations. 

Q5. 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 various industries across Connecticut grapple with the financial fallout due to Covid-19 we need to be sure that we do not overlook the massive impact the arts have endured.  While the state is also facing historic deficits, I’m hopeful that the administration and legislature can work towards supporting the arts and other industries.  I am also hopeful that an additional aid package will be approved in Congress and that arts organizations of various sizes will be able to benefit.

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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