Pat Jehlen Response


Arts, Culture, and Creative Questions for the 2014 Massachusetts Legislative Candidates


Your Personal Connection

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

Playing second violin in The Gondoliers and All-State in high school. 
Our sons, daughter, and now granddaughters taking classes at Wheelock Family Theater.
Our daughter supporting her passion for dance and choreography through ASL interpreting and teaching.
30 years volunteering with the OPENAIR Circus, teaching circus skills, especially stilting, and helping plan performances


Arts and Culture in Your District

Art and culture plays a role in the Commonwealth from Boston and the Gateway Cities and our rural and suburban towns.  Please provide us with a story of the impact a local arts or cultural institution brings to your district.

It’s hard to pick.  Each cultural council is different and each brings the community together in different ways, sometimes expanding our ideas of art.  Porchfest?  Circle the Square?  Cambridge River Festival?   Smaller events like artists presenting in schools.  So many possibilities!     


Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education. 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?

We need to reduce the pull to “teach to the test” by lowering the stakes placed on a single yearly measure of two subjects.  Increasing the opportunities for students to participate in arts will engage students turned off by relentless focus on test prep.  I support the idea of STEAM, but want to give students more opportunities in many subjects currently under-valued, including history, social studies, phys ed, -- and recess!

If any of you would like to work on reducing the impact of high-stakes testing, please let me know: there’s a state-wide campaign; please like the Facebook page less testing, more learning ma.


Economic Development

Nonprofit art and cultural organizations support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. How will the legislature foster an ecosystem which supports the creative community and industry across the Commonwealth?

Economic development is certainly important, and cultural and art organizations play an important role – bigger than sports, for example.  But at some point we should start thinking and talking about other human needs besides money.  Joy?  Community? Engagement?  Creativity? 

On the other hand, artists need to survive.  This country – not just the government, but the public  audience– is less supportive of arts than many, perhaps most, others. 

I’d like to hear your ideas about both of these questions.


Addressing the Commonwealth’s Socioeconomic Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues, among them workforce development, public safety, and health care. Can you provide examples on how you would utilize the arts, cultural, and creative community to address the Commonwealth’s social and economic challenges?

Drama is well-suited for helping in public health education.  When our daughter was in high school, she was in an improv group sponsored by Planned Parenthood which performed skits dramatizing issues like homophobia, unplanned pregnancy, etc. and generated discussion in high schools and junior highs.  This is an example of learning that helps kids learn more than what’s needed on multiple-choice tests, and explore their own values.


The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

  • Last year, Massachusetts invested $12 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, more than twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?
  • For the past two years, 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. At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?
  • Would you develop or dedicate a revenue stream to provide a sustainable and stable funding stream for the arts, cultural, and creative community?

As one legislator, I can’t set a particular number, and I don’t have a solution for a funding stream.

Adequate revenue is an issue for almost all program areas.  Tax cuts and health care costs have reduced spending for most program areas that we all value.  We need to examine the whole tax system, and make sure it’s adequate, fair, and sustainable.

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