Candidate Questionnaire: Paul Formica

Candidate for Senate in District 20 (Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem, Waterford), Republican

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?

My family helped to establish the Niantic Childrens Museum 28 years ago – my late wife having served on the founding Board and we have supported Arts and Culture ever since. This past Friday I participated w Rep Cheeseman in an online fundraiser to help keep their lights on. As First Selectman in East Lyme , I helped to establish The Regional Theatre program thru our Park and Rec Dept. I have missed music venues since the shutdown.

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?

As the Founding Co-Chair of the Bi-Partisen Arts Culture and Tourism Caucus, I  will continue to work to raise awareness of the importance of Arts and Culture and tourism to protect and increase the funding to support this most valuable industry in our state.

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?

Community programs for children and seniors especially in our cities should be safely expanded to encourage creative outlets and unity among us all. Encourage a safe return to art and culture venues. This would help recovery for museums etc and also help our collective well being. 

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?

Focusing on the art, the artist, the music, the performance, the creativity would be a natural way to bring people together regardless of race, economics or circumstance.It would help to show us and to highlight our similarities more than our differences. I believe that our nations diversity is our greatest strength and nowhere is that more apparent than the arts. Arts is a cornerstone of our culture.

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 have already Lobbied the EDC Commissioner for a Hospitality Arts ands Culture relief fund of $20M to get us jump started early in the pandemic. That number would need to be increased significantly to have a meaningful recovery effect on the industry moving forward especially as the cold weather settles in. Performing venues are at serious risk if we don’t create a support fund very soon. I expect to convene a meeting of the A/ C Tourism Caucus soon to bring Legislators together to build support. There is still money in the CRF that should be tapped as well as bonding opportunities.

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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