Casey Pease'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?

While working on Senator Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, I wrote a lot to process the stress and emotional toll of campaign work. It was extremely cathartic and something I continue to do throughout this campaign.

 

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 top campaign priorities are public education (fully funding our continually state underfunded schools), health care (single-payer), and the environment (addressing climate change now). The creative community can touch human emotions to express the urgency of action, when facts often cannot.

 

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?

Art can create and build community. With the 1st Franklin district as one of the most rural House districts with an aging population, it’s important to get people together to celebrate and create arts to create healthy communities.

 

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?

I have advocated to the state education commission to eliminate high stakes testing so teachers can focus on more creative approaches to teaching. In order to increase test scores, schools are adding STEM classes and eliminating music and arts, and that’s wrong. I will fight to fix our broken foundation budget formula to fully fund our schools to increase the arts, not to cut them.

 

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?

I would increase the funding the Mass Cultural Council and advocate for increasing it more every year. By level funding programs, it’s ultimately a cut when you consider the increase of inflation etc.

 

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 would suggest increasing the fund to what at least $15 million and electing a Democratic governor would help shield from current Gov. Baker’s veto pen.

 

5. Space for artists and arts organizations

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?

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

In the nearby 1st Hampshire district, Northampton is finishing up on a Community Arts Trust building that would guarantee affordable rehearsal and studio space. I think the state could better assist in funding these projects. In the district, many of our abandoned factories in old mill towns have recently been converted to affordable studio apartments and art space. I would advocate for further conversion of these abandoned buildings to create co-operative and coworking space for artists and entrepreneurs.

 

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?

Massachusetts is generally a leader, but has been falling behind. I will be a bold, vocal advocate to get Massachusetts as a leader again, especially in the arts. I will be a vocal advocate in the State House to create this Public Art Program.

 

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?

As the boldest advocate in my race for single payer Medicare for all healthcare, and I’d fight for alternative therapies to be recognized as effective and covered by this insurance.

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