Candidate for House in District 107 (Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury), Democrat
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?
At the beginning of the pandemic our family participated in the Mo Willems drawing tutorials, and I started taking guitar lessons using the Fender offering. It was wonderful to have a creative outlet available to us. This summer we missed our local town concerts terribly. While they still occurred, we only attended the last one since socializing would be limited and kids were expected to stay on their blankets.
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 arts have gotten us through COVID-19 thus far. We turned to our devices to connect with and create art to enhance our well being and improve mental health. People have a renewed sense of appreciation for the arts and, I think, will be eager to travel and explore when it is safe to do so widely. Now, people seek open and outdoor spaces where they can appreciate the arts whether through sculpture, music, performance or otherwise. This is an opportunity for CT to highlight our spacious and outdoor arts opportunities. If partnered with the travel industry, there is an opportunity to link arts opportunities with local restaurants, shops, museums, hiking opportunities and other attractions.
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 believe that the arts are vital to self expression, personal reflection and connection with others. The arts bring us together in a way that little else can. While we are apart from each other, the arts have been critical to helping us feel grounded and connected. When we are able to be together again, the arts will be a bridge of connection back to in person community.
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?
Yes. I would love to see the arts used more in community efforts. Particularly in communities of color who may not have access to formal arts programs or specialized technology. Access to a studio to create art or record music is an outlet for self expression, confidence building and helps to lift up artists in their crafts.
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. Just like other small businesses, we should support emergency funding for the arts at the Federal level.
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.