Candidate Questionnaire: David Yaccarino, Jr.

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 benefited from the arts or creative expression in the last few months? What local arts experiences have you missed most during the shutdown?

In the early, more stressful days of the COVID-19 shutdown, I relied on listening to music and watching movies as an escape. The things I miss most though are experiences in person. Seeing live music in small venues was always a thrilling experience and one that I miss badly. Also small exhibitions from local artists at places like Three Sheets and Front Porch Brewing. I always seemed to find some piece or print that I liked.

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 road to full economic recovery from COVID-19 may be a long process requiring government intervention on the scale of the New Deal. The Federal Art Project was a New Deal program that provided work for artists and yielded long term cultural benefits. If non-profit arts programs return 7 times the revenue invested, the state of CT has a lot of incentive to keep artists creating. They can subsidize the living costs of the artist and have state and municipal agencies buy their work. We will have to think creatively to fully recover from this pandemic.

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?

I think people will be excited to resume social interaction so cultural and arts-based festivals will play an important role. I’d hope that this pandemic has shown us that enjoying life and expression is ultimately more valuable than the exhaustive pursuit of profit. Considering that, the state should take investing in the arts seriously to help recover from this extremely difficult period.

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?

Absolutely. Sharing our life stories and emotions through creative expression can make it easier to understand and bridge our differences. Not just through the art itself, but through collaborative creative processes. But this must be combined with legislation to address the material class issues and the disparities in the criminal justice system. But it is an important piece of reaching mutual understanding across race and social class.

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?

Yes I would support emergency funding to support the arts in Connecticut. As a general part of my campaign platform, I am calling for increased taxes on the ultra wealthy residents in the state. The wealth gap is larger than it’s been in 100 years, and we must be asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. I referenced the New Deal Federal Art Project above, which paid artists a weekly stipend and agreed to buy their art. Although it’s the type of program we have not seen in a long time, I’d like the state to be thinking boldly on this issue.

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

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