Just as any other city, Worcester faces many economic and social issues. Can you provide examples as to how you would integrate the arts, culture and creative community in solving social problems? How would you use the creative community to drive economic development in the city?
- I believe that the arts and culture bridge all socio-economic, cultural and language barriers. The arts bring people together; they create dialogue, a shared experience and connection. Creating arts initiatives, bringing music and arts to the people, creating spaces in the city where collaborative efforts can take place, in all of our neighborhoods. I truly believe all of the colleges in Worcester can help with these types of initiatives and hopefully that will show the students how amazing the city is and they’ll choose to stay. Worcester needs to be a one-stop shop for small, creative, makers, builders and entrepreneurial business. We need to grow our tax base by inviting and marketing all that Worcester has to offer, and we don’t do that. For every dollar we spend on the arts we get seven in return. By growing the tax base we will have more money for cultural enterprises and projects that involve the entire community. stART on the Street is an arts incubator and helps drive the economy long after the event is over. There are small businesses that have sprung up in Worcester that came directly from showing at stART, feeding back into the tax base and creating some amazing stuff!
What revenue sources will you create or use to increase the city’s investment in the creative community?
- I would put forward a motion to have all developers building in Worcester give a percentage of their budgets to be used for public art. I would work on block grants for artists live work spaces. We need to encourage creative small business to open up here by creating a one-stop shop in City Hall to get them through the process as well as offer tax incentives. I believe we also need to map all of our available spaces, retail, factory and office and let developers, businesses and entrepreneurs know what we have to offer. Marketing our available spaces, market Worcester as a great place to build, rehab and develop.
We’ve all had defining moments in our lives. What personal experience with arts, culture and creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of the community?
- I grew up in a family that was completely dedicated to the arts. We sang, we played instruments, acted in plays and were encouraged to try any new artistic venture. My mother was a concert pianist, my dad was an amazing singer, they were very active in local theater and I’m so grateful that I was brought up with all of that. As an adult helping found stART on the Street has profoundly changed my life and my perspective on Worcester and on what we can and should accomplish.
Worcester is being touted as a creative city with public art, festivals and dozens of cultural organizations. Through the WOOcard program, the Worcester Cultural Coalition is trying to brand Worcester as being creative and to leverage the strength of our members to attract more residents, college students, and visitors. How would you utilize the creative community to make Worcester a great place to live, learn, work and play?
- I do some of this already as the co- director of stART on the Street and my position on the Arts Council, but we need to do more. We must get our students involved and invested in the city, and the arts are a great way to do that. More collaborative efforts to bring students together with the public through public arts projects and the development of mixed use creative spaces in downtown and in neighborhoods. Worcester, hands down, has some of the most amazing talent I’ve ever seen, and we need to harness that, promote it and market it.