James "Chip" Harrington Response


We've all had defining moments in our lives. What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of the community?

After graduating from high school I attended Holyoke Community College and studied theater.  I truly loved being involved with all aspects of a stage production.  I helped build the set, worked on costume design and acted in many plays and short stories.  I even wrote a few one act plays during that time.  To this day that experience has had a great impact on my life and how I view not only my community but the world as a whole.


Art and culture play a role in Springfield in numerous ways, ranging from public education to safety and economic development. Please provide us with a story of the impact a local arts or cultural institution brings to your district.

I am very fortunate to live in a community that has its own local theater company.  The Exit 7 players have been around since the early 80s and produce 3-5 live plays annually.   When I was a member of the Board of Selectmen in Ludlow I always supported the theater group by supporting theater renovations with town funds.  Today the Exit 7 players enjoy a unique public theater that has been renovated with the support of local funding.  Also the Indian Orchard Mills is a wonderful asset in the district that provides work space for artists and has events like Open Studios for the entire public to enjoy.  This project took an old abandoned building that could have been a place for squatters and an eye sore in the community and instead made it a vibrant and creative space.


Just as any other part of the state, we face many economic and social issues here in Springfield. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems? How would you use our cultural community to drive economic development in the district?

Market rate housing is very much needed in Springfield and in our Downtown; one of those models that I think would help fill that void is artist live/work space.  Artist live/work space particularly close to Union Station to give access to New York City would very much help that area of our downtown by adding more young professionals and artists.  In addition; public art adds a vibrancy to any area it consumes and will also make that area feel safer because it makes for more interesting spaces and events where more people will visit.


Art instruction such as that at the Community Music School and Springfield Libraries increase achievement across all academic disciples and develops the whole child. While many communities have access to quality arts education, many youth are still being left out of the creative community. How will you champion arts education for our youth both in our schools and in our communities? How will you balance the importance of arts education with the constant pull to “teach to the test”? Would you support joining ten other states to make one year of arts education in high school a requirement for admission to the state university system? Do you support adding ‘arts’ into the Commonwealth’s STEM program to transform it to STEAM?

I have consistently stated that there is far too much time spent teaching to a test in our public schools.  The extra blocks of math and English to make sure children pass a test take away enrichment and arts programs from our students.  This is not the way to educate the whole child.  I openly oppose Common Core being sent down from the Federal government which will exacerbate the issue of over testing of our children and teachers forced to spend more time teaching to a test.  In addition; the arts aren’t separate and apart from math or language.  Examples like; how paintings have symmetry or how best to describe a statute using adjectives can be used.  Our teachers are the best in the country and there are very creative ways in which to teach children about math or English while in art class or vice versa; lets give them and administrators more freedom to do so.  I do support adding arts to STEM to make it STEAM.


This year, Massachusetts invested $14 million in organizational support through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the creative community, ranking it ninth in the country. In 1988, the MCC gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?

I would fund the MCC closer to the $27million number as funding becomes more available.

In FY14 and FY15, then-Governor Patrick allocated $15 million in matching grants through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to support the maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of the Commonwealth’s cultural facilities. In FY16 and FY17, Governor Baker allocated $10 million to the Fund. At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?

$10 million in matching grants is a level I am comfortable with.

Would you develop or dedicate a revenue stream to provide a sustainable and stable funding stream for the arts, cultural, and creative community?

Yes I would look at creative ways to develop a revenue stream for the arts, cultural and creative community; especially any that are self funding and are using proceeds made from that arena to be put back into that arena in a retained revenue sort of way.

Do you support creation of funding for marketing and economic development efforts in MCC-designated Cultural Districts, such as the Springfield Central Cultural District?

Yes, I very much support marketing and economic development efforts of the MCC Cultural Districts and believe that they should be working hand and hand in revitalizing Gateway Cities like Springfield.


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 Percent for Art Program, which establishes that public art will be an integral piece of all new state construction. Last November, Gov. Baker vetoed the Percent for Art Program after it garnered support from the Legislature in two separate votes last session, once in the state budget, and then in an amended version. What will you do this session to help get the Percent for Art Program to the finish line?

I believe that the program should be looked at and will ask Governor Baker what his concerns are with the program and try to address them.  I hope to be a problem solver in the Senate not a scorekeeper who is worried about getting my way.  Obviously if the Governor has vetoed it twice he has issues with the program.  Let’s work together to find out what those issues are. Mandating that all new construction projects divert a percent of taxpayer funds to go towards creating public art as a integral part of the project may not be the answer.  I would rather look at an incentive and work with the community and project managers to accomplish both goals in a way that is a smart use of tax dollars by leveraging local resources be they public or private.  If a bridge costs $5mil to build I hesitate to mandate that a portion of that money be set aside for public art to be an integral piece of the bridge.



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