Charlie Baker's Response to the Create the Vote Questionnaire

1. The Role of Arts, Culture, and Creativity

What role do arts, culture, and creativity play in your life, your family, your community? What impact does it have?

Lauren and I both gained a deep love and passion for reading from our own parents, and as an English major in college, I was proud we could share that with our own kids. While I wasn’t gifted with any of my own artistic talents, our family shares a close bond over literature and especially music, including everything from classic rock to top 40 hits. I’ve attended hundreds of concerts over the years, and we have made many fun outings of trips to musical performances, movies, museums and the theatre as a family.

Helping many of our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children has been especially important to us, especially those under the care of the Department of Children & Families. In addition to new investments, reforms and resources at the agency, the First Lady has been especially involved in the re-launch of the Wonderfund and enriching the lives of kids under DCF’s care with access to enrichment opportunities in music and the arts, including a partnership with the Museum of Science that provides DCF foster kids and their family members with free access.

 

2. Addressing Commonwealth-wide Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues – job creation, public safety, education.

What are your priority issues? What role can the creative community play in addressing these challenges?

Since taking office, we’ve focused on doing what’s best for the people, students, families, teachers and taxpayers of Massachusetts, working across the aisle to get results and build better schools, stronger and safer communities, a stronger and more competitive economy.

We eliminated and revised thousands of unnecessary regulations and have ushered in the creation of over 150,000 new jobs. We’ve seen household incomes rise across the board, implemented and enacted minimum wage increases, and doubled the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for over 400,000 working families and individuals. We have also pursued reforms and targeted investments to increase our housing stock, reduce the cost of energy, improve the reliability of the MBTA and support economic growth among our small businesses and communities.

We worked with the legislature to enact comprehensive criminal justice reforms, including initiatives that enhance recidivism and behavioral health programs, and invested over $26 million in programs that target reducing gang violence among young people. We have pursued and enacted nation-leading reforms and investments to curb substance misuse and the opioid epidemic, including a 70% increase in prevention, education, treatment and recovery funding since 2015 and the nation’s first seven-day limit on new opioid prescriptions.

We have increased Chapter 70 support for public schools by over a half-billion dollars to a historic total of nearly $5 billion, and increased investments to assist school districts with the costs of healthcare, charter reimbursements and special education. We are creating more affordable pathways to higher education and increasing program capacity for vocational technical and STEM programs that prepare our workforce for success.

Helping many of our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children has been especially important to us, especially those under the care of the Department of Children & Families. In addition to new investments, reforms and resources at the agency, the First Lady has been especially involved in the re-launch of the Wonderfund and enriching the lives of kids under DCF’s care with access to enrichment opportunities in music and the arts, including a partnership with the Museum of Science that provides DCF foster kids and their family members with free access.

To support the creative community and historically or culturally significant sites and programs important to local education and economic growth, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has consistently received around $14 million annually, and we have, through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, invested $40 million in capital planning and development funds that leverage private dollars and support restoration, preservation or expansion.

We also enacted the Collaborative Workspace Program as part of a larger economic development bill and have since awarded over $8 million to provide entrepreneurs a place to accelerate business formation, job creation and community-based innovation. This program is supporting creative, dance and artistic residences, studios, galleries, campuses and workshops in communities throughout the Commonwealth. We are also working through the Mass Tech Collaborative to improve entrepreneurial and startup programming, launching a Mentorship Initiative earlier this year to support growing and innovative community-based startups in succeeding.

In a second term, we will continue to work collaboratively on a bipartisan basis with all of the Commonwealth’s communities and stakeholders to continue building on these efforts.

 

There is a growing body of data and science that’s telling us that loneliness is more prevalent than we thought. Former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy even compared the mortality effect associated with loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What do you think the creative community can do to address social isolation?

Isolation and loneliness have proven to have negative impacts on health and wellbeing, and are especially prevalent among older adults, which presents a challenge when Massachusetts’ older population continues to grow.

We launched the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in 2017 to help Massachusetts acknowledge this demographic change and think differently about aging, improving economic security, promoting age- friendly communities, facilitating connection and engagement, and ensuring access to supportive and health-related services.

Earlier this year, we became only the second state to enroll in the AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities, and are determined to pursue the best practices and investments that make Massachusetts the most age-friendly state in the nation.

We also incorporated Age- and Dementia-Friendly best practice options into the Community Compact program we first launched upon taking office. Community Compacts are voluntary agreements between the Commonwealth and a city or town to adopt unique best practices that help local governments better serve our mutual constituents. We have awarded over $17 million to Compact Communities since 2015 to support regionalization and efficiency, modernizing technology services and providing technical assistance.

We were proud to propose a significant increase in the per elder formula grant for Councils on Aging to $12, and to enact a final Fiscal Year 2019 budget increasing council funding for aging and senior centers by $3.5 million over the previous year.

We are committed to enlisting all partners and stakeholders in our efforts to leverage the contributions older adults have in our lives and society, while helping them ensure long-term independence.

 

3. Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Research has shown that arts education increases achievement across all academic disciplines, enhances student engagement, and fosters development of critical thinking and learning skills.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is currently redesigning school and district report cards to include measures for arts education participation. In addition, DESE is updating arts curriculum frameworks for the first time since 1999.

What will you do to increase access and participation in arts education for youth both in school and out of schools?

Since taking office, we’ve focused on doing what’s best for the people, students, families, teachers and taxpayers of Massachusetts, working across the aisle to get results and build better schools, stronger and safer communities, a stronger and more competitive economy.

We have increased Chapter 70 support for public schools by over a half-billion dollars to a historic total of nearly $5 billion, and increased investments to assist school districts with the costs of healthcare, charter reimbursements and special education.

Helping many of our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children has been especially important to us, especially those under the care of the Department of Children & Families. In addition to new investments, reforms and resources at the agency, the First Lady has been especially involved in the re-launch of the Wonderfund and enriching the lives of kids under DCF’s care with access to enrichment opportunities in music and the arts, including a partnership with the Museum of Science that provides DCF foster kids and their family members with free access.

To support the creative community and historically or culturally significant sites and programs important to local education and economic growth, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has consistently received around $14 million annually, and we have, through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, invested $40 million in capital planning and development funds that leverage private dollars and support restoration, preservation or expansion.

Through our capital investment planning, we were also pleased to financially support the Massachusetts’ College of Art and Design expansion efforts with the opening of a new $40 million Design and Media Center that will increase classroom, gallery and studio space.

We also enacted the Collaborative Workspace Program as part of a larger economic development bill and have since awarded over $8 million to provide entrepreneurs a place to accelerate business formation, job creation and community-based innovation. This program is supporting creative, dance and artistic residences, studios, galleries, campuses and workshops in communities throughout the Commonwealth.

We are also working through the Mass Tech Collaborative to improve entrepreneurial and startup programming, launching a Mentorship Initiative earlier this year to support growing and innovative community-based startups in succeeding.

If re-elected, we will continue to collaborate closely with the legislature, our schools and non-profits and other community stakeholders like the Mass Cultural Council and Cultural Facilities Fund to inform future needs and priorities.

 

4. The Administration’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

Public investment in the arts strengthens local economies, attracts additional investment, and ensures resources serve the public interest. For the past three years, the Legislature has level funded the Mass Cultural Council, investing $14 million in organizational support for the creative community. In 1988, the Mass Cultural Council gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now.

At what level would you fund the Mass Cultural Council?

Since taking office, we have worked with the legislature during tight fiscal times to deliver responsibly balanced budgets that invest more in priorities like education, transportation, our communities and curbing substance misuse, all without raising taxes. Over the last four years, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has consistently received around $14 million annually to support its mission.

To help preserve, maintain and fix the Commonwealth’s existing assets, we have also taken a responsible and targeted approach to our annual capital investment planning to address our community’s most pressing infrastructure or economic development needs. To that end, we have, through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, invested $40 million in capital planning and development funds that leverage private dollars and support the restoration, preservation or expansion of historically and culturally significant sites important to local education, public service, job creation, economic growth and tourism.

Through our capital investment planning, we were also pleased to financially support the Massachusetts’ College of Art and Design expansion efforts with the opening of a new $40 million Design and Media Center that will increase classroom, gallery and studio space.

We also enacted the Collaborative Workspace Program as part of a larger economic development bill and have since awarded over $8 million to provide entrepreneurs a place to accelerate business formation, job creation and community-based innovation. This program is supporting creative, dance and artistic residences, studios, galleries, campuses and workshops in communities throughout the Commonwealth. We are also working through the Mass Tech Collaborative to improve entrepreneurial and startup programming, launching a Mentorship Initiative earlier this year to support growing and innovative community-based startups in succeeding.

If re-elected, we will continue to collaborate closely with the legislature and stakeholders like the Mass Cultural Council and Cultural Facilities Fund to inform future budget needs, priorities and appropriations.

 

Created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2007, the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund has granted $110 million in matching grants to help restore the Commonwealth’s most treasured historical and cultural landmarks, and fund visionary capital projects that revitalize our communities. As the Cultural Facilities Fund comes up for reauthorization in 2019, there’s interest to increase the Fund to $75 million for five years, allowing the yearly allocations to increase from $10 million to $15 million and meet the increasing demands of projects.

At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?

To help preserve, maintain and fix the Commonwealth’s existing assets, we have taken a responsible and targeted approach to our annual capital investment planning to address our community’s most pressing infrastructure or economic development needs. To that end, we have, through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, invested $40 million in capital planning and development funds that leverage private dollars and support the restoration, preservation or expansion of historically and culturally significant sites important to local education, public service, job creation, economic growth and tourism.

Through our capital investment planning, we were also pleased to financially support the Massachusetts’ College of Art and Design expansion efforts with the opening of a new $40 million Design and Media Center that will increase classroom, gallery and studio space.

Since taking office, we have also worked with the legislature during tight fiscal times to deliver responsibly balanced budgets that invest more in priorities like education, transportation, our communities and curbing substance misuse, all without raising taxes. Over the last four years, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has consistently received around $14 million annually to support its mission.

We also enacted the Collaborative Workspace Program as part of a larger economic development bill and have since awarded over $8 million to provide entrepreneurs a place to accelerate business formation, job creation and community-based innovation. This program is supporting creative, dance and artistic residences, studios, galleries, campuses and workshops in communities throughout the Commonwealth. We are also working through the Mass Tech Collaborative to improve entrepreneurial and startup programming, launching a Mentorship Initiative earlier this year to support growing and innovative community-based startups in succeeding.

If re-elected, we will continue to collaborate closely with the legislature and stakeholders like the Mass Cultural Council and Cultural Facilities Fund to inform funding for the Cultural Facilities Funds’ reauthorization.

 

5. The Creative Economy

Innovation is one of the major drivers of Massachusetts’ economy.

As Governor, how would you work with creative entrepreneurs, artists, and cultural organizations as part of an economic development strategy?

Massachusetts’ consistently ranks as the most innovative state in the nation, and we will continue to work collaboratively with community stakeholders like the Mass Cultural Council and Cultural Facilities fund to ensure we continue that leadership.

To support the creative community and historically or culturally significant sites and programs important to local economic growth, the Massachusetts Cultural Council has consistently received around $14 million annually to support its mission and we have, through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, invested $40 million in capital planning and development funds that leverage private dollars and support restoration, preservation or expansion.

Through our capital investment planning, we were also pleased to financially support the Massachusetts’ College of Art and Design expansion efforts with the opening of a new $40 million Design and Media Center that will increase classroom, gallery and studio space.

We also enacted the Collaborative Workspace Program as part of a larger economic development bill and have since awarded over $8 million to provide entrepreneurs a place to accelerate business formation, job creation and community-based innovation. This program is supporting creative, dance and artistic residences, studios, galleries, campuses and workshops in communities throughout the Commonwealth. We are also working through the Mass Tech Collaborative to improve entrepreneurial and startup programming, launching a Mentorship Initiative earlier this year to support growing and innovative community-based startups in succeeding.

 

6. Art and Public Health

Expressive art therapy is a proven and effective treatment to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, help cope with traumatic experiences, decrease depression and anxiety, and aid addiction recovery.

How would you ensure veterans, young people in the juvenile justice system, the elderly, and those suffering from addiction are able to access art and creative therapies?

Since taking office, we’ve focused on doing what’s best for the people of Massachusetts, working across the aisle to get results and build better schools, stronger and safer communities, a stronger and more competitive economy. This includes supporting our seniors and veterans and caring for our most vulnerable such as those suffering from substance misuse or mental health issues.

We have pursued and enacted nation-leading reforms and investments to curb substance misuse and the opioid epidemic, including a 70% increase in prevention, education, treatment and recovery funding since 2015. Our most recently enacted budget increases funding for the Department of Mental Health by nearly $109 million, including $83.8 million for Adult Clinical Care Service, and fully funds the Department of Developmental Services “Turning 22” program with $2.1 million in new funding.

We worked with the legislature to enact comprehensive criminal justice reforms, including initiatives that enhance recidivism and behavioral health programs, and have invested over $26 million in community- based, multi-disciplinary programs to coordinate prevention and intervention among youth at-risk of violence and gang problems.

We launched the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in 2017 to help Massachusetts acknowledge this demographic change and think differently about aging, improving economic security, promoting age- friendly communities, facilitating connection and engagement, and ensuring access to supportive and health-related services. Earlier this year, we became only the second state to enroll in the AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities, and are determined to pursue the best practices and investments that make Massachusetts the most age-friendly state in the nation.

We also incorporated Age- and Dementia-Friendly best practice options into the Community Compact program we first launched upon taking office. Community Compacts are voluntary agreements between the Commonwealth and a city or town to adopt unique best practices that help local governments better serve our mutual constituents. We have awarded over $17 million to Compact Communities since 2015 to support regionalization and efficiency, modernizing technology services and providing technical assistance.

We were proud to propose a significant increase in the per elder formula grant for Councils on Aging to $12, and to enact a final Fiscal Year 2019 budget increasing council funding for aging and senior centers by $3.5 million over the previous year.

Helping many of our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children has been especially important to us, especially those under the care of the Department of Children & Families. In addition to new investments, reforms and resources at the agency, the First Lady has been especially involved in the re-launch of the Wonderfund and enriching the lives of kids under DCF’s care with access to enrichment opportunities in music and the arts, including a partnership with the Museum of Science that provides DCF foster kids and their family members with free access.

We enacted legislation exempting Purple Heart recipients from state recreation area and park admission fees and invested $8 million toward a nearly $200 million project to construct a new long-term care, Community Living Center at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home that will enhance the quality of life and expand accessibility to recreational activities. We are also investing in significant renovations and improvements at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.

In a second term, we will continue to work collaboratively on a bipartisan basis with all of the Commonwealth’s communities and stakeholders to continue building on these efforts that support our vulnerable populations and everyone in Massachusetts.

Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...