What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of our community?
I was raised in a very artistic household. At the age of 10, I won a statewide contest, in my age group, for a drawing of R2D2, the robot from Star Wars. The prize was a scholarship to the local art school in Clinton, MA. My artistic renderings always received recognition throughout my school years. My children are very artistic as well in their own ways. Drawing, painting, sculpting, piano, violin and acapella are some of the artistry we practice in our home.
Fitchburg’s new Mayor (and former State Representative) has long been an energetic supporter of the arts and culture on the state level, and views the creative economy as vital to his plans for the revitalization of the City of Fitchburg. As State Representative, how will you work to help Mayor DiNatale realize his vision for the City?
I look forward to working with the new mayor and the artist community to identify the grants and funding available to Gateway cities like Fitchburg in order to improve the economy through art. I will look hard into providing the necessary support for the Massachusetts Percent for Art Program, creating a percentage of all constructions on state property to fund art programs. In addition, the arts and culture fields will flourish under my plan to bring businesses to the community. I’m the only candidate with a private sector background on creating jobs, particularly in the high tech industry.
As State Representative, how will you support the transformation of the B. F. Brown building and adjacent properties into a campus of apartments and workspaces for creative professionals and entrepreneurs, to help stabilize the North of Main neighborhood and revitalize downtown Fitchburg?
As the chair of the City Council Property Committee, I assisted with shepherding this project through the committee and then provided support in the full City Council. I was the only city councilor to physically visit and inspect B. F. Brown. As a state representative, I plan on working closely with the project owner, CDC, and the mayor to make sure my advocacy is available to help with any state and local issues that may arise. Further, I have been in contact with Marc Dohan to get updates on the progress. Funding is now the priority to moving this project forward. I will provide any and all assistance required of me.
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 environment that supports the creative community and tourism across the Commonwealth, and particularly in North Central Massachusetts?
I spearheaded the economic development discussion in Fitchburg with the economic development director position and then helped to create the economic development infrastructure. My platform as the state representative is to attract businesses and companies to occupy the city’s vacant buildings and build the economy to one that will attract new residents and tourists to the region. A thriving economy will create an inviting environment for all to work, play and invest. That is why I plan on supporting small businesses and the Small Business Bill of Rights. The unemployment rate in Fitchburg is 6.2%. I seek to reduce this rate and achieve economic growth through job creation, which will attract the creative community and tourism.
Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education and in workforce development in our 21st century economy. How will you champion arts education? 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?
This initiative is also known as the Arts for All Initiative. I strongly believe arts help foster creativity, innovation and critical thinking. I would support this initiative if the requirement is not a burden on the school systems and the necessary funding is available to the schools. A mandate without responsible funding and oversight will be disastrous. I know the important role that the arts play in academia. I have a child in the high school, middle school, elementary, and preschool.