Steve Grossman's Response to the Create the Vote Questionnaire

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 have been exposed throughout my life to a full range of arts experiences. This includes playing the clarinet, singing in the glee club and choir in high school, and attending a wide variety of concerts and art exhibits. Since our marriage in 1969, Barbara and I have been avid art collectors and consistent donors to many cultural institutions throughout the Greater Boston area and the Commonwealth. I served on the Board of the Institute of Contemporary Art for many years and chaired its capital campaign. I continue to serve as a lifetime trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts. Simply put, the artistic and cultural life of the community has been one of my top priorities for 40 years.

My wife, Barbara Wallace Grossman, is a theater historian and professor of drama at Tufts University. For more than 44 years, Barbara has demonstrated how arts and culture are critical ingredients to building healthy, vibrant communities. Her service as a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts, and as vice-chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, have given me a unique understanding concerning the power of the arts to change lives and also to serve as a critical economic driver and job creator.

As state treasurer, I’ve seen the dramatic impact that investing in the culture of a community can have on enhancing, enriching, and enlivening the quality of life of our fellow citizens. For example, in Pittsfield, I’ve seen the Colonial Theatre, Berkshire Museum, and Barrington Stage revitalize economic growth, transforming a gateway city left out and left behind for far too long into one of the state’s most popular tourism and cultural destinations.

As governor, I will travel to every one of the 40 Senate districts to learn first-hand about the innovative role of arts and culture programs in communities across the Commonwealth. My administration will always be a partner to cities and towns seeking to expanding and enhance these programs. 

Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education. While many communities provide access to quality arts education, many of our youth are still being left out of the creative community. What will you do as Governor to 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 in making 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 to transform it to STEAM?

I’m the only candidate running for governor who has publicly stated I will work closely with the Legislature to double funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) over four years. This would significantly increase the Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars (STARS) Residencies program and put more artists directly in the classroom.

Testing is necessary to both measure performance and receive federal funding, but in too many communities it continues to crowd out programs such as writing, arts, music, theatre, dance, and physical education. These are programs you can’t test by circling bubbles on a computerized score sheet, but they are critical to creating a learning environment that allows all our children to thrive and reach their full potential. One of the reasons I believe that extended learning time, with local support from municipal officials and school leadership, is a helpful tool to close the achievement gap, is because it provides additional time to incorporate arts education into the school day.

While I strongly support providing all students with access to the arts in public high schools and will partner with cities and towns to do so, I believe this is best implemented on a community level with support from local and school officials, rather than a statewide mandate. However, I will use the bully pulpit of the Governor’s Office to strongly advocate for enhanced arts education. It is in the best interests of all our students.

I fully support the transition from STEM to STEAM education. I will work with my colleagues in the Legislature and urge them to pass a bill sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and Representative Sarah Peake to include the arts in STEM-related programs. Educating the child on a holistic basis represents one of the best ways to enhance the creativity of the next generation of young people in Massachusetts. In fact, I have been using the acronym STEAM in my speeches about the Commonwealth and its future during most of my tenure as treasurer, not simply during this campaign.

 

Addressing the Commonwealth’s Socioeconomic Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues – job creation, public safety, education. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving the Commonwealth’s social and economic challenges? How would you use the creative community to drive economic development across the Commonwealth – from major metropolitan areas to the Gateway cities, rural towns, and suburbs? What are the metrics of success?

I’m running for governor to build One Commonwealth that leaves no one and no region behind. I believe we need to grow our economy in a way that levels the playing field to provide all our children with the resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.

Below are some of the policies I will seek to implement in order to drive economic development across the state: 

  • Through the MCC, increase funding for art in public spaces, using public-private partnerships to place new art on development projects and public transit.

  • Ensure all artists are compensated appropriately for their work under a set of fair labor standards.

  • Maintain and preserve the film tax incentive program.

  • Through the MCC, partner with cities and towns to enhance the Cultural Districts Program, creating specific areas within a community that serve as a center for arts and cultural facilities. This is critical to growing our tourism economy.

  • Complete the last mile of broadband so that every city and town has high-speed internet. Also make every school in the Commonwealth digital learning ready by 2016. This will help encourage students to enter the digital game industry, an industry that directly employs more than 2,000 residents, who on average earn nearly $100,000 per year.

  • In a similar fashion to “Buy Local” promotion for locally-produced food, launch a campaign for art created or designed in Massachusetts. 

Let’s recognize that the creative economy in Massachusetts employs more than 100,000 people, is growing in terms of its economic impact, and is causing significant numbers of young professionals to stay in Massachusetts long-term. I know this first hand because our family business is a full service marketing and communications company with an award-winning graphic design studio included in its robust product line.

In addition, as artists migrate throughout the state, particularly to our gateway communities, in search of affordable housing and studio space, they are having an increasing impact on the educational, cultural, and economic life of each of these communities. Lowell, Haverhill, and indeed the entire Merrimack Valley is a particularly good example of a region that is prospering because of the full integration of the arts in the entire life of the community.

 

 

The Administration’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

Last year, Massachusetts invested $11.1 million in organization support for the creative community, ranking it ninth in the country. The current level of in the Massachusetts Cultural Council is less than 41% of what it was 25 years ago.

• At what level would you fund the Massachusetts Cultural Council?

I have committed to doubling the funding for the MCC over four years.

• At what level would you fund the Cultural Facility Fund which supports the maintenance, repair and rebuilding of the Commonwealth’s cultural facilities?

I support Governor Patrick’s efforts to triple the funding for the Cultural Facility Fund to $15 million. I would not rule out increasing that level of funding in the future, depending upon the full range of capital projects in which we need to invest.

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

I would work closely with the Legislature to develop a more predictable and sustainable funding steam for the creative community.

• How would you strengthen the Commonwealth’s current administrative structure to support the creative community? What parts of your administration would work closely with the MA Cultural Council?

Because the arts play such a critical role, I look forward to working with the creative community to develop a more robust set of initiatives overseen by a senior member of my administration.

The role of the arts and humanities is a central part of my vision to grow our economy in every region of the state and build One Commonwealth that leaves no one behind. Arts and culture must be key ingredients of policy planning across a wide range of areas, including education, economic development, job creation, housing, environmental affairs, and more. We must view the arts as part of a comprehensive policy agenda.

Through the Creative Economy Council, an advisory group created by Governor Patrick in 2008, my administration will work collaboratively across cabinet agencies to coordinate arts and culture in a series of public-private partnerships.

What are your program priorities and where will the funds be allocated?

One of my top priorities will be to increase funding for the MCC in order to enhance the Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars (STARS) Residencies program and put more artists directly in the classroom. In addition, other funding priorities for the MCC include supporting about 400 arts-related non-profits and more than 300 local cultural councils across the state. I will also advocate for allocating MCC funding to be used for field trips to cultural destinations and historic landmarks, as well as crucial after school programs such as Youth Reach for at-risk adolescents.

This additional funding will have a significant and lasting impact on cultural tourism and job creation in the creative economy. By investing in the arts and humanities we can empower young people and teach them the creative problem-solving skills they need to thrive in today’s innovation economy.

• How would you promote public-private partnerships to support the creative community?

As governor, I will create 5,000 new paid internships for college students every year – half paid for by the state, and half paid for by the business community. Internships lead to hiring qualified, motivated students and encourage the cross-fertilization of ideas. This will provide college students with a wide range of job opportunities for the summer, including in the arts and creative economy.

I will also explore public-private partnerships that incentivize developers by selling or leasing public land virtually for free, provided they commit to building housing and offering rents that are within reach for low and middle-income families. Increasing the supply of housing that is affordable for young professionals, particularly through a smart growth strategy with housing in close proximity to public transit, will benefit aspiring artists.

• Which states provide programs – regarding policy, or public-private investment, or other elements of an active arts and culture agenda – that might serve as models for your administration?

Maryland, Rhode Island, and Louisiana have implemented policies and made investments in the arts that offer examples of best practices worth studying and considering here in Massachusetts. I look forward to working with the Legislature to explore policies that would make the sale of original artwork in cultural districts tax exempt, incorporate and enhance the role of culture in the Community Preservation Act, and increase the use of historic tax credits. As we explore ways to incentivize artists to live and work in smart growth areas with other artists, these states offer models of best practices.

 

The Creative Economy

Innovation is one of the major drivers of Massachusetts’ economy. As Governor, how would you work with creative entrepreneurs and broaden your administration's commitment to the creative economy as part of an economic development strategy? How will you foster an ecosystem which is reflective of the up and coming independent creative community across the Commonwealth?

Investing in public higher education and expanding access to arts programs is critical to exposing our students to the wide range of industries in the creative economy. As I mentioned previously, we also need to robustly expand internship and housing opportunities through public-private partnerships.

Increasing our investments in the Cultural Facility Fund and the MCC will help provide cities and towns with the resources they need to grow their local economy as a cultural and tourism destination for both residents and travelers.

Unfortunately, small businesses and non-profits in the creative economy are held back from maximizing their growth opportunities because of the lack of capital available. I will attempt to address this challenge by exploring how the Small Business Banking Partnership I created as state treasurer can be used to enhance creative financing to help these institutions realize their full potential.

 

A World Class Arts Destination

While Massachusetts is known for its hospitals, professional sports, and universities, the Commonwealth has yet to fully leverage the strength of our arts, culture, and creative community as a means for tourism and branding. How would you utilize your administration to market the Commonwealth as a world-class cultural destination?

Massachusetts is a world class cultural destination. We must significantly expand funding for tourism, particularly cultural tourism, to showcase the extraordinary variety of attractions that define our arts, culture, and creative community. I will make it a high priority of my transition team to fully develop a branding and marketing campaign within 90 days of being sworn in.

Because of our virtually life-long involvement in the arts and the credibility I believe we have earned for decades, I believe I am in a unique position, both to earn the trust of the creative community and to take full advantage of its collective expertise, in achieving our ambitious goals.

 

Your Priorities

The start of a Governor’s tenure often sets the Administration’s tone and priorities. Which actions do you see as the most critical to initiate in the area of arts and culture within the first 100 days of your administration?

  • Propose a FY 2016 budget that significantly increases funding for the MCC. This is critical to turning our collective vision into a reality.

  • Challenge the business community to launch 5,000 new paid internships – half paid for by the state and half paid for by private sector – to encourage aspiring artists to participate in paid, full-time summer programs. I have no doubt that the creative economy will be a principal area of interest for many of these summer interns. This is one of the most effective ways to help college students and college graduates find work in the industries they prefer.

  • Work with my colleagues in the Legislature and urge them to pass a bill sponsored by Representative Kay Khan and Representative Sarah Peake to include the arts in STEM- related programs, changing STEM to STEAM.

  • As indicated above, develop a comprehensive plan within 90 days of being sworn in, around which my administration and the creative community can develop consensus with respect to its impact and implementation.

In all of these initiatives, I will attempt to bring the same fast, flexible, and entrepreneurial approach that will characterize my administration. 

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