Transcript of candidates' opening statements at the City Council Forum on Arts & Culture on October 14
I stand firmly behind the arts. As a kid growing up, the arts have to be specifically brought up through our schools and for our children. As a young child, I was involved in theater through Fuller School and in high school when I was involved in the local community children’s theater…I think it’s very important that we start with the children, because that’s where this comes from. I think we need to have more of a place where we can display different artwork for the artists – I see places like the hospital that display local artwork and community places like Cape Ann Coffee…The performing arts is big. Where we sit today, there are a lot of plays that go on that people enjoy…I think we need to bring that throughout our community and we need to encourage that in our kids. Because the kids coming up is what’s going to bring our community more and more. If we encourage it that way, we can get more accomplished and we can show that arts are more and more exactly what we need them to be. I know when I was encouraged as a child as an eagle scout, as a boy scout, that arts and culture are determined and very well meaning to what we need to do in the community as well as develop things or perform in the arts, I think it’s very important and needs to start with our children and we need to encourage it more in our schools, as far as bringing it forward so we can have what we have today.
Arts, Culture, Tourism, non-profits– it’s all my passion. Right now, I am the volunteer executive director for Phyllis A Marine Assocation, so it’s near and dear to me. I want to see Gloucester’s history and traditions move forward, and part of that is our arts and culture. It’s such a huge part of my life, it’s hard to figure out where to start. I just got back from a weekend chaperoning the Gloucester High School’s drama club trip to NYC so they could take workshops and see Broadway shows and talk to actors and directors and learn more. My children have painted murals on their bedroom walls – it’s a huge part of our life, as I think it’s part of everyone’s life in some manner. And I think we have to recognize how important the arts and culture industry is in our economy. When I went to a workshop last spring, and our speaker talked about how important non-profits are seen as an economic force in our society in general and I think Gloucester is a great example of that and I think we need to emphasize that in our lives.
I back the arts 100%. I have a daughter and this one day, I don’t know where it came from, she could look at a picture and draw it exactly. Me and my wife are not inclined at art at all and I think it’s very important that our children in school have a good start to express themselves, which would further them better in life as a person. I also think at some point, about bringing this to the public eye, maybe something could be worked out with the Gloucester TV station, to bring the councilors onto the tube and have the support of the financial people of this city. I think that would be beneficial. I also think the ward that I foresee to, that arts take centerstage down there and start looking at rezoning that area. I think it would be very important. I also think where we do a great job is during the summer tourist season. I think it’d be better if we also worked towards the winter months also. I think this would be very beneficial to the city and as far as income and there’s been talk about low income for these people in the arts, I think there’s many things we could look at. For example, we have the land over in West Gloucester for another park, why don’t we put low income housing there for them, you know to give them a break. So, I think it’s very important that we work together as a community and bring this to the forefront.
I believe, as others have spoken already, that art is extremely important. And with the youth, obviously it begins there. I’ve been on the board of the Magnolia Library for more that six years, we’ve had the Gloucester Stage Company Youth Group that participates in the Christmas play every year. They’ve have use of the library and you see the children practicing – it’s just inspirational. I’ve also been a part of construction of the world record Lobster Trap Christmas Tree, which was built on the police station on Main Street. It was extremely painful to built it, because the time that we built, the world’s record, because we took on Rockland, Maine, it was very cold. But ultimately when we topped it out, and the children from Art Haven painted their buoys and they come across the street to display them on the tree, and to see their eyes light up, was all worth the pain that we went through, to build that tree. Again, the children, it begins there. But also it goes on, we have the “Man at the Wheel” – which is a beautiful statue known worldwide. We have the visitors that come from all over to see that statue and that’s just one of many works of art throughout Gloucester that we need to continue, obviously, to preserve and to educate others on the need for art.
It’s very important subject and very topical now a days, that we need to discuss the arts in Gloucester and not really confuse it with the tourists, but for the arts themselves, and how it applies to Gloucester…I’m very excited tonight, because last night at city council we had a presentation about the future of the arts in Gloucester. And the presentation was how are going to organize a policy ordinance and how we’re going to finance it. It was a first discussion, and a lot of you that know me, know that I worked very hard at the tourism sector, especially to finance the tourism. When we had our change of mayors, that was my opportunity to go in and finally get some money for tourism, which is 30% of the hotel tax. I promise you, if reelected, I will march into the mayors office, whoever it is, and I will ask for money for the arts and the culture. I have a plan, we have the meal’s tax that’s available to us, because you can’t do too much without money. The finance will be there.
It’s hard to live in Gloucester and not be influenced by the arts in some way. Whether you visit a gallery, a studio, whether you come here [Gloucester Stage Company] to see a production, or a production that Henry Howan puts on with his whole troupe or if you go out and hear some music – David Browne, Dan King. It’s vitally important to the identity of the community to nurture the arts. The creative community will have a strong ally in the city council with Giacolone.
When I was in Gloucester High School, I had the good fortune of being in the Drama Club with the legendary Nan Weber as the director. One of the things she taught us in terms of acting, she said, “ Acting is not just learning lines and blurting them out. Acting is listening to the other actor and responding as if you’re in a conversation.“ That demonstrated for me why the arts and culture institutions are so important to us. Through arts and culture, we learn these life skills. So this life skill that I was fortunate enough to learn from Nan Weber served me well in my business career and served me well in my civic career. And I think that that’s the kind of thing we should be focusing on as a city that we can do for education of our youth, and promotion of the institutions that we hold dear. I’ve always been a big supporter of the cultural institutions in town and will continue to do so if you reelect me.