Jim Hawkins' 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?

Arts and culture play a vital role in building communities that are safer, stronger, and more open to emerging ideas and improvements that will better overall quality of life. As a former teacher, I recognize first-hand the important role of arts and culture not just for student, but for helping communities forge a sense of unity and pride. As State Representative, I will fight for increased awareness and funding for arts and culture initiatives in order to create stronger and safer communities. My district has so much potential to create spaces where civic engagement and the exchange of ideas is encouraged.

Also, as a member of the joint committee on Arts, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism, I understand the importance and see how impact these aspects are to our economy as well.

 

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?

My priority issues include tackling the opioid crisis, securing more funding for education, and providing a voice for small businesses. The creative community can play a vital role in addressing these challenges by bringing all residents and communities together for a common purpose. This could include raising awareness for these issues through artistic and cultural initiatives throughout the district. A stronger, more involved, and more connected community is ultimately much better equipped to address these issues effectively.

 

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

Various activities that encourage people to be more active can help alleviate some of the effects of social isolation, including community projects and outdoor events where everybody’s contribution, regardless of ability, will help. Helping those experiencing social isolation, especially senior citizens, find a create outlet where they express themselves can alleviate some of its effects.

 

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?

An effective way to increase access and participation in arts education for all youth is to increase funding in the state budget to support such initiatives, especially in areas where such resources are currently lacking or ignored. Being a teacher for twelve years opened my eyes to the reality that children thrive when exposed to various artistic and cultural outlets. This is why I fully support including an arts requirement throughout all public schools as a component of basic education. Finally, I strongly believe that opportunities that tie arts education with community initiatives will encourage youth both in and out of school to be civically minded and engaged.

 

4. The Commonwealth’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?

Instrumental in organizing efforts to ensure that the Commonwealth’s cultural and historical needs are met, the Mass Cultural Council deserves to be adequately funded. I will have to do additional discussion and research before I can name a specific figure at this time. I look forward to having a discussion with our community in order to learn more about how to best channel resources and funding into supporting arts and culture throughout the Commonwealth.

 

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?

I support increasing the funding for the MA Cultural Facilities Fund. The Commonwealth should continue adequately repairing and revitalizing infrastructure, and I am always in favor of adequately funding cultural facilities, projects, and venues across the state. I am also in support of allocating matching grants to preserving and expanding cultural facilities.

 

5. Space for artists and arts organizations (For Greater Boston Districts)

Active arts organizations and artists make neighborhoods safer, more welcoming, and improve overall quality of life. Yet, as Greater Boston’s development boom continues, the creative community is consistently being priced out of space to live, create, and present art.

From the eviction of artists at the Piano Factory in Boston’s South End and the EMF building in Cambridge, to the possibility of the Huntington Theatre losing its mainstage home on Huntington Avenue, Boston is in danger of losing the vibrancy and cultural diversity which make the area a desirable place for businesses to move and people to live.

How will you work to ensure artist live work spaces are included in development plans?

Affordable housing and artist housing is a great opportunity to address economic development and the needs of the creative community. Looking at these spaces through the lens of economic development is crucial. All too often, working artists are being priced out from spaces used to live, produce, and present art. By working towards expanding access to affordable housing and investing in new development, we can also accommodate artist live work spaces. This starts at a realization that art propels local economies and creates more vibrant, livable communities.

 

How will you encourage the development of affordable rehearsal, exhibition, and performance space for artists and cultural organizations?

I think that it’s important to regard investment in the arts and culture as targeted efforts within the realm of economic development. With this in mind, the state budget is a great revenue stream to support arts and cultural sector, and I will continue to support include funding for such spaces for artists and cultural organizations. Furthermore, developing affordable spaces for artists and cultural organizations requires fighting for affordable and accessible housing for all.

 

6. Public Art

Public art helps build vibrant and connected neighborhoods and the arts community plays a vital role in the development of cities and towns. The rest of New England and 22 other states have a Public Art Program, which establishes that public art will be an integral piece of all new state construction. The Legislature is considering The Massachusetts Public Art Program, legislation that would invest approximately $2 million a year in the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties.

What will you do next session to help get the Massachusetts Public Art Program to the finish line?

I look forward to talking to stakeholders and doing more research into the Massachusetts Public Art Program, but I remain steadfast in my commitment towards encouraging all forms of art and culture within our local communities.

 

7. 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 am always open to learning more about different options for supporting our veterans, those in the juvenile justice system, the elderly, and those suffering from addiction. I firmly believe that the arts and creative therapies can play a large role in giving disadvantaged groups a voice to express their personal concerns and stories. Protecting society’s most vulnerable remains a priority of mine, and I see art and creative therapies an important tool in working towards this goal.

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