Michael Capuano'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?

The Greater Boston Area has always been a vibrant community of artists, one which I have worked to keep as accessible and innovative as possible. In fact, my district houses some of the most important creative spaces in the state, like the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Greenway, and MassArt. On my off days, I love to explore these spaces with my family and across the communities of our district. As mayor of Somerville, I worked to expand opportunities for artists and make our city a welcoming environment for emerging artists to thrive.

 

2. Addressing District-wide Issues

Just as any other part of the state, we face many economic and social issues here in the district.

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

I believe that we must work to achieve policies like Medicare for all, transit equity, and a guarantee of our basic civil liberties in the Trump era. I think that in our current political climate, artists have an enormous role to play in helping to us to make sense of how we got to this point and how we can fight back against Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and continued assault on our democratic norms. That’s why I don’t view helping the creative community as a separate issue, but very much a significant part of our overall strategy when it comes to defeating Donald Trump and understanding how we can stop the hate he promotes from continuing.

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

The creative community has a large role to play when it comes to social engagement to prevent isolation. We must support creative efforts to get more people active in our communities, sponsoring creative events, performances, and projects that will promote involvement rather than isolation.

 

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.

In accordance with the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is currently redesigning school and district report cards.  These reports cards will 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?

During my time in Congress, I have worked consistently to ensure the presence of arts in and out of schools. I recognize the importance of arts in all children’s lives, even if their families may not be able to afford additional classes. Last year, I was a vocal supporter of the Child Care for Working Families Act, which sought funding for high quality preschool programs in the creative arts. I also cosponsored the Rebuild America’s Schools Act to improve spaces of programs related to early learning, including the arts. In the DIPLOMA Act, I helped pass the resolution to create engaging learning experiences in thousands of arts, cultural, and service organizations. I was also a proponent of the Youth PROMISE Act, which supported after school activities and mentoring programs in the arts and other skills.

 

4. Public Access to the Arts and Humanities

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are the nation’s vehicle for supporting the creative sector and providing public access to diverse opportunities for participation in the Arts and Humanities. The Trump Administration’s FY18 and FY19 budgets recommended eliminating both the NEA and NEH. However Congress, in a bipartisan show of support, rejected the Administration’s proposal and instead authorized a $2 million increase to both agencies.

How will you protect national funding for the arts and humanities and work to increase opportunities for everyone in your district to access art, culture, and creativity?

As I mentioned above, I have been a consistent supporter of public funding towards the arts. In addition to school funding, I have also worked to alleviate economic issues that artists face by allowing tax deductions for artistic charitable contributions in the CREATE Act of 2017. Also in that act, I supported the investment in the creative economy in low-income communities. On the national level, I have cosponsored many bills to establish many museums, including the Smithsonian Women's History Museum and the National Museum of Irish American History. I am also a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus which seeks to promote the arts as well as national programs for the promotion of creative pursuits like the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

5. 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?

I recognize the importance of art as important for everyone, including those who are struggling. That is why I actively supported the CREATE Act in 2017, which contained many policies to help those in need. First, it required the Department of Homeland Security to process petitions for visas of artists within 14 days. In addition, it instructs FEMA to ensure that art supplies destroyed in a major disaster must be repaired or replaced. I believe we can do more to provide funding for the arts in a rehabilitative context, and I plan on working to secure more funding for our district in a variety of area to promote rehabilitation, including with the arts.

 

Bills/Resolutions Notes:

H.R.3773 - Child Care for Working Families Act COSPONSORED BY MIKE

TITLE II—HIGH-QUALITY PRESCHOOL

SEC. 201. FORMULA GRANTS TO STATES TO ESTABLISH VOLUNTARY HIGH-QUALITY PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS.

d, 1, B: An explanation of how the State will ensure that eligible providers receiving funds under this section will use research-based curricula that are aligned with State early learning standards that are developmentally appropriate and include, at a minimum, each of the following domains:

(i) Language development.

(ii) Literacy.

(iii) Mathematics.

(iv) Science.

(v) Creative arts.

(vi) Social and emotional development.

(vii) Approaches to learning.

(viii) Physical development.

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Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy Act of 2017 or the CREATE Act of 2017 COSPONSORED BY MIKE

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) allow artists to claim tax deductions for qualified artistic charitable contributions based on the fair market value of a piece of artwork, rather than the value of the materials used to create it; and (2) revise income and gift tax requirements for charitable contributions of fractional gifts, the valuation of subsequent gifts, and recapture of the charitable deduction.

The Small Business Act is amended to require the Small Business Administration to develop loan criteria, evaluation procedures, and technical assistance programs for small business concerns owned and controlled by artists and concerns that support the creative economy.

The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 and the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act are amended to require the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture to ensure that traditional economic development tools, such as business incubators and grant programs, support the arts industry and creative economy.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is amended to require the Department of Homeland Security to adjudicate petitions for nonimmigrant visas for aliens with extraordinary ability or achievement, and artists and entertainers within 14 days after receiving them.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shall promulgate rules to ensure that expenses incurred, because of a major disaster or emergency, by specified artists, designers, or musicians to repair or replace needed tools are considered eligible for disaster assistance.

The National and Community Service Act of 1990 is amended to authorize the recipient of a national service program grant to carry out the program through an Artist Corps that identifies and meets unmet needs within communities through artistic activities, including technical assistance for grant writing, marketing, and financial planning.

The Department of the Treasury shall develop guidelines for the creation and operation of qualified community development entities focusing on investment in and the development and encouragement of the creative economy in low-income communities.

Commerce shall establish a demonstration program to promote creative and performing arts in the economic planning of local governments.

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Smithsonian Women's History Museum Act COSPONSORED BY BY MIKE

This bill establishes a comprehensive women's history museum within the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, to provide for: (1) the collection, study, and establishment of programs related to women's contributions that have influenced the direction of the United States; (2) collaboration with other Smithsonian museums and facilities, outside museums, and educational institutions; and (3) the creation of exhibitions and programs that recognize diverse perspectives on women's history and contributions.

The bill establishes a council within the Smithsonian Institution to: (1) make recommendations to the Smithsonian's Board of Regents for the construction of the museum; (2) advise and assist the board on the administration and preservation of the museum; (3) recommend annual operating budgets for the museum; and (4) report annually to the board on the acquisition, disposition, and display of objects related to women's art, history, and culture.

The council shall have sole authority to: (1) acquire artifacts for the museum's collections, (2) dispose of any part of the collections but only if funds generated are used for additions to the collections, (3) specify criteria for the use of the museum's collections and resources, and (4) preserve and maintain the collections.

The museum's director may carry out educational and liaison programs in support of its goals.

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Commission to Study the Creation of a National Museum of Irish American History COSPONSORED BY MIKE

This bill establishes a commission to study the potential for creating a National Museum of Irish American History.

The commission shall report to the President and Congress on:

  • its recommendations for a plan of action for the establishment of the museum in Washington, DC;
  • the availability and cost of the collections to be acquired and housed;
  • the impact of the museum on regional Irish-American-related museums;
  • whether the museum should be located within the Smithsonian Institution;
  • the governance and organizational structure of the museum;
  • how to engage the Irish-American community in the museum's development and design; and
  • the cost of constructing, operating, and maintaining the museum.

The commission shall: (1) develop and obtain an independent review of a fund-raising plan to support the museum through public contributions, and (2) submit recommendations for a legislative plan of action for the creation and construction of the museum.

The commission may host a national conference on the museum for individuals who are committed to the advancement of Irish-American life, art, history, and culture.

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H.R.2475 - Rebuild America's Schools Act of 2017 COSPONSORED BY MIKE

16) provide instructional program space improvements for programs relating to early learning (including early learning programs operated by partners of the agency), special education, science, technology, career and technical education, physical education, or the arts;

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H.Con.Res.160 - Recognizing the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, the only national museum dedicated to documenting African American life, history, and culture. COSPONSORED BY MIKE

Commends the leadership, staff, scholars, designers, construction workers, volunteers, charter members, and donors who worked tirelessly to realize the venerable dream of opening the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution.

Encourages all citizens and residents of, and visitors to, the United States to visit the museum when touring the nation's capital.

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H.R.2237 - DIPLOMA Act COSPONSORED BY MIKE

SEC 2 FINDINGS:

(9) We know from successful experiences that hundreds of thousands of arts, cultural, service, sports, colleges and other youth organizations, as well as civic and faith-based groups want to partner with schools and educators to reinforce learning, but far too often, neither the school nor the community know how to effectively connect with each other.

(10) In order for the United States to compete in a global economy, the copartnering efforts of government, social services, business, arts, home, community-based organizations, and philanthropy need to concentrate their efforts where they are most needed: in our schools.

SEC. 3. PURPOSES.

The purposes of this Act are—

  1. to create engaging learning experiences that—
    1. strengthen academic achievement, build civic capacity, and provide a continuum of supports and opportunities for children, youth, and their families; and
    2. prepare young people for college, careers, and citizenship through results-focused partnerships at all levels that mobilize and coordinate school and community resources;
  2. to ensure the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and civic development of disadvantaged youth and thereby strengthen their families and communities;
  3. to engage and support parents, care givers, and families in their role as first educators of their children;
  4. to promote community and family engagement in the academic and developmental needs of children and youth;
  5. to leverage and integrate the human and financial assets of local communities, schools, State governments, the Federal Government, and the natural assets of communities—
    1. toward better results for children, youth, and families; and
    2. for sustained civic capacity; and
  6. to develop school improvement strategies that incorporate approaches that meet the comprehensive needs of children and youth, such as full service community schools, community-based, integrated student services, and related approaches.

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H.R.1318 - Youth PROMISE Act COSPONSORED BY MIKE

Promise Plan Components:

  1. Youth and adolescent development services, including job training and apprenticeship programs, job placement and retention training, education and after school programs (such as school programs with shared governance by students, teachers, and parents, and activities for youth between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the afternoon), mentoring programs, conflict resolution skills training, sports, arts, life skills, employment and recreation programs, summer jobs, and summer recreation programs, and alternative school resources for youth who have dropped out of school or demonstrate chronic truancy.
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