Sal Circosta's Response to Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Addressing Citywide Issues:

Just as any other city, Springfield faces many economic and social issues.  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 city?

  • Springfield’s road to economic development and growth begins with a focus on the basics: ensuring that Springfield is a safe and clean city populated by well-educated residents. If Springfield is to realize its true economic potential, it must address these underlying issues, as they are a fundamental barrier to the relocation of new families and the entry and creation of new businesses in our city.  Many of the solutions to these foundational issues are the arts:
  • Art and culture are absolute preventatives and curatives to criminal activities.  Art and culture provide a positive foundation for people to exercise their energy, emotions, and time.  If we were to offer a new direction and a new approach for our residents, it would have a direct positive impact on reducing crime, making Springfield a safer place for economic growth.
  • I envision an arts district that creates both various art and creativity studios on street level, with affordable apartments above them.  This will be a step in the right direction for a real renaissance in Springfield.  Along with art studios and living space for artists and young professionals, we will target the building of coffee shops, bookstores, and other businesses that target community building.  This would include establishing a graduated tax relief program for new businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Community development is keys to fixing out economic and social issues in Springfield.  Springfield is a city made up of unique and beautiful neighborhoods. Our historical vibrant neighborhoods are now polluted with condemned buildings, over grown watts, and deteriorating roads. It’s time for Springfield’s authentic beauty to resurface.   We need more recreational opportunities for our youth and residence such as skate parks, dog parks, water parks, and community gardens.  Springfield needs to cleanup and re-green the eye sores of the city, which should include community gardens, art projects, etc.   Additionally, we have to be responsible and add recycling option to public trash cans on our sidewalks and in our parks.

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?

  • When I was a senior at the High School of Commerce, I was given a scholarship from my elementary school, White Street School.  I hadn’t been there in years.  So I got dressed up, and went to my childhood school to receive this scholarship at an awards ceremony.  As I walked in, the principal greeted me and immediately pointed to one of the tall walls in the staircase.  As I looked into her pointed finger’s direction there I see a mural I painted when I was in third grade.  It was of a ladybug holding trash and I wrote, “Don’t be a litterbug.” I was shocked, and slightly shy because of it.  But then I became somewhat proud, yet humbled.  My elementary school kept my painting on the wall after some ten years.  That inner feeling of excitement and pride my third-grade art project brought me at 18 years old was one of the most unique feelings I have ever experienced.  This is the power of art.  Art communicates something words and stories cannot.  Art is an expression of a child’s innermost curiosity, feelings, struggles, and championship.  To me, art is one of the most important sciences because it not only touches our minds, it touches our hearts and souls.  

Arts Education and Programs for Youth:

Art instruction increases achievement across all academic disciplines and develops the “whole child” What would you do, if elected, to champion arts education with 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?”

  • Springfield Public Schools have a long tradition of forming some of our country’s most gifted and successful minds. Delivering quality public education is vital to the health of our community and the future of our city. First and foremost, as mayor, I would lead the charge in Boston for less focus on testing, more focus on students.  Our students are flooded with testing, it harms the teacher-student relationship, and it takes too much time out of other types of classroom activities that form imagination and curiosity. 
  • Secondly, we need to increase the availability of arts, music, and sports in our elementary and middle schools.  So many children fall in love with art, music, and sports at a young age.  These activities become their passion and love; the schools must do everything to ensure that these activities are both invested in, available, and encouraged as part of the holistic development of our youth. 
  • Thirdly, we need student-focused financial responsibility in our School Department.  Our spending needs to be on our kids, to develop both critical thinking and imagination.  In conclusion, we need to have a mayor who understands that increasing the arts only benefits our city: Our students are better educated, so our schools will do better; our students will develop into well-formed adults and look to singing, playing an instrument, painting, writing poetry, sculpting, or drawing as a better alternative than gang violence; our students will then turn into a skilled and passionate workforce of entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and business women and men who will turn Springfield towards a better direction.  
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