500 Attend First-Ever Gubernatorial Forum on the Arts


Six candidates addressed arts funding, education, and economic development

BOSTON, July 15, 2014—Create the Vote, a coalition of artists and arts, cultural, and creative institutions based throughout Massachusetts, announced today that 500 artists, cultural leaders, and members of the public attended the first-ever gubernatorial debate about arts and culture at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester July 15.

The historic Gubernatorial Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity was moderated by arts critic Joyce Kulhawik. Candidates Don Berwick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Mark Fisher, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Jeff McCormick answered questions from Kulhawik and arts leaders from around the state including: Kelly Bates, Executive Director of the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research at Emerson College; Stacy Lord,  a middle school arts teacher in Worcester; Kristen Gregory of Jacob’s Pillow Dance;  Kevin Howard, President and CEO of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod; Masiel Encarnacion, Program Director of RAW Art Works in Lynn; Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer for the City of Worcester; and Xavier Harvey, a peer counselor at the Actors Shakespeare Project and assistant director for the Project’s summer production of As You Like It.

The candidates talked about the importance of increased funding for the arts, expanded access to arts education, cultural tourism, economic development, and their personal experiences with art.

“This was an important first step in our campaign to elevate discussion of arts and culture in the gubernatorial campaign,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative, the convening member of the Create the Vote Coalition. “This was the first time in Massachusetts that artists and cultural leaders sponsored a gubernatorial debate. Our state is home to large-scale museums, theaters, and orchestras, as well as numerous community-based playhouses and art centers that drive our economy, enhance the academic performance of our students, and build vibrant, connected communities. Core to the success of these cultural institutions is public support of the arts. Our governor should be championing these efforts.”

More than 250 artists and arts and cultural leaders throughout the state signed an invitation to gubernatorial candidates to participate in the Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity to hear what the candidates have to say on the role the next governor “should play in driving arts and cultural policy and supporting the work of the sector.”

In addition to hosting the July 15 gubernatorial forum, the Create the Vote Coalition is meeting with candidates and sharing what they learn from these meetings with the public. For more information about the coalition and the Create the Vote campaign, visit Mass-Creative.org.


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Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works with creative leaders and entrepreneurs, working artists, arts educators, and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and support necessary to build vibrant and connected communities.


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