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?
I served for several years on the Board of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in the seventies and eighties, and in this role, became convinced of the importance of investments in arts and culture for both tourism and economic development, but for the quality of life of every community. As a history major (Clark University), and as a Selectman in Hopedale in the 1970's, I convinced Rockwell Corporation to donate the "Little Red Shop" Textile History Museum to the town and the portraits of the Drapers (Governor Eben Draper, General William Draper, etc) who were linked to the town, state, and national history were saved and placed in the town hall. I also founded Blackstone Valley Heritage Homecoming, Inc. which promotes local cultural activities and concerts in the state park during the summer. In more recent years, I have been and continue to be a vocal supporter of the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra in the Greater Milford Area.
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.
I have strongly supported funding in the state budget and visibly support the local cultural commissions and will continue to do that. I see it as an important aspect of local aid, along with support of local libraries which I have championed throughout my time in public service. I have assisted the libraries in the district with funding for capital projects as well as annual increases in support. I have assisted with grants to refurbish local Civil War monuments in recognition of the 150th anniversary of that conflict.
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?
I have advocated for restoring Civic Engagement in our local schools and colleges and agree that Arts Education (which has been linked to achievement in science) should also be part of the curriculum. I agree that it should be STEAM not STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
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?
I have fully embraced, including the terms that I served on the Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Humanities, the concept that all aspects of the arts produce jobs directly and indirectly through quality tourism. I have worked closely with Senator Rosenberg in advancing funding for arts and culture and will continue to do so in the future.
Addressing the Commonwealth's Socio-Economic 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?
The arts should play a key role in community life. I have been involved for many years as a member of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission and its non-profit successor. We have clearly linked the history and culture of the region with economic development in partnering with the local chambers of commerce. As the Senate Chair of the Legislature's Manufacturing Caucus, I have been working with NPS Ranger Chuck Arning to build the historical and cultural foundation for this year's observance of National Manufacturing Day, celebrating the Blackstone Valley's role as "birthplace of America's Industrial Revolution."
- 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?
I can't think of any area of state support that does not want to return to the halcyon days before the Great Recession and to the level of support. Everyone wants what they got then - of course, adjusted for inflation. I will continue to support increases in funding for the arts and cultural activities as important investments for the state as the economy continues to improve. However, the economy is not back to where it was in 2007. I believe that the cultural community has an important role at the table and I also believe that the private sector, long the mainstay of arts and culture, must not shirk their responsibility to advocate and support the arts. It must be a public-private partnership and the private sector has not been as supportive as once was the case. I supported the state tax credit for charitable donations and believe that we should revisit this issue to find the best incentives. I have supported the film tax credit which seems to be attracting film-making to Massachusetts, and that supports investment in the arts and culture. I support matching grants as another way to encourage private and local support for the arts. I am willing to consider a dedicated revenue source, but more discussion is needed to determine the best, most appropriate source and the amount. I believe that we dedicated some of the expected casino revenue for arts and culture so we should track that investment.