Oscar Camargo Response

Your Personal Connection

We've all had defining moments in our lives. What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of the community?

I was a member of my high school's speech & debate team. Through this activity I learned a great deal about logic, ethical values, and philosophy. It was with the speech team that I found my calling, in particular with the art of oratory and creative expression. I was far from the best but my passion never diminished... it was my favorite outlet, because I also met others who shared my passion. Within this community, I learned that thinking outside the box was not  something to be admonished but encouraged. I also learned to appreciate differences, keep an open mind, and imagine the world as it ought to be. It's these lessons that've shaped my worldview and political philosophy.

Arts & 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.

Andover Art in the Park. The event is hosted by the Andovers Artists Guild and features artists throughout the Merrimack Valley. The event provides a venue where people can spend a day outdoors, make new acquaintances, and meet new talent. Personally, my godmother—a local artist—has participated in the event for the past nine years. She's a retiree who finds solace in her works, and enjoys teaching younger artist her painting techniques. Proceeds from the sales go to assisting high school seniors in continuing their education in the visual arts. This event has been a staple within our community for the past forty years, and has undoubtedly shaped the lives of aspiring artists.  

Addressing District-wide Issues

Just as any other part of the state, we face many economic and social issues here in the district. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems? How would you use our community to drive economic development in the district?

Within my district, the town of Andover has a youth service center (YSC). The Andover YSC engages the community's talent—from artists, outdoorsmen and entrepreneurs to athletes, artisans and activists. Services like this provide an outlet for people, though mainly directed to youths, to channel their energies in a constructive manner. Programs like the Andover YSC foster the kind of ingenuity needed in a 21st-century economy. Studies have shown that the arts and culture can stimulate economic development. They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases. In addition, because they enhance quality of life, the arts and culture are an important complement to community development, enriching local amenities and attracting young professionals to an area.

Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Art instruction increases achievement across all academic disciples and develops the whole child. While many communities have access to quality arts education, many youth are still being left out of the creative community. Changes in federal law under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers Massachusetts an opportunity to include arts education in the restructuring of the Commonwealth’s accountability and assistance systems for schools and districts. Do you support including assessments based on student access, participation, and proficiency in arts learning and creative learning experiences in these new accountability frameworks?

Yes. I’m always supportive of efforts to incorporate art education into schools, including the assessments that would accompany them.

The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

This year, the Massachusetts Legislature invested $14 million in organizational support through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the creative community, ranking it ninth in the country. This provided level support for the creative community and overturned a 55% cut in funding by Governor Baker. In 1988, the MCC gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?

In general, I would support increases in funding; however, a specific level would depend on various factors. These factors would need to be weighed out relative to the needs of the Commonwealth and other social programs.  

Percent for Public Art

Public art helps build vibrant and connected neighborhoods and the arts community plays a vital role in the development of cities and towns. The other 5 New England states and an additional 22 have a Percent for Art Program, which establishes that design and public art will be an integral piece of all new state construction. Last November, Gov. Baker vetoed the Percent for Art Program after it garnered support from the Legislature in two separate votes last session, once in the state budget, and then in an amended version. Will you support the Percent for Art Program next session?

Yes, depending on the final language of the resolution.

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