Create the Vote Coalition Meets With Gubernatorial Candidate Don Berwick

Candidate would tie arts and culture to social justice policy

BOSTON, September 4, 2014—Continuing its series of sit down meetings with candidates for governor of Massachusetts, members of the Create the Vote coalition met with gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick to talk about Berwick’s views on the arts and cultural community and the role it would play in his administration.

The Coalition—a collaboration of Massachusetts arts, cultural, and creative institutions convened by MASSCreative—met with Berwick via conference call July 11. Representatives from The Art Connection, Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, Boston University Arts Initiative, AHA! New Bedford, StageSource, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New Repertory Theatre, The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, Berkshire Creative, and The Cultural Center of Cape Cod questioned Berwick about his vision for the arts in the Commonwealth.

Berwick said that he supported the arts for its own sake. “I am deeply committed to what you are trying to accomplish,” he said. “To me, art isn’t an add-on, it’s the point.”

Berwick referenced the Forward he wrote for the 2009 book, “Transforming the Healthcare Experience Though the Arts,” by Blair L. Sadler and Annette Ridenour. In it, he wrote, “I think [the authors] may be reminding us of first principles―the meaning and purpose of care, itself. … Maybe, just maybe, a new idea gestates in this lovely book: not that art can serve healthcare, but that healthcare can serve art.”

Berwick said that he supported a dedicated funding stream to ensure steady public investment in artists and cultural institutions; sequential arts education for all students in the Commonwealth; and leveraging public investment in the arts to spur additional private support.

Citing his professional background in health care reform, Berwick said that he would explore best practices for expanding access to art and supporting public investment in arts and culture and implement them in Massachusetts. “My commitment as governor would be find a collection of best practices and implement them.”

Berwick said that his reason for running for governor was to implement a social justice agenda to end poverty, hunger, and homelessness in Massachusetts and that he would want to integrate the arts into that agenda.

Troy Siebels, Executive Director of The Hanover Theatre in Worcester, said: “These conversations with candidates are vitally important to helping them understand how integral arts, culture, and creativity is to making the Commonwealth a desirable place to live, work, and play. Our next governor should be a champion for artists and arts and culture for the greater benefit of the entire state.”

“We have accomplished so much in Massachusetts with a relatively small investment in the arts,” said Megan Whilden, a board member of Berkshire Creative. “With better planning and public investment, we can help more downtowns flourish, ensure that every child in the state has access to quality arts education, and build stronger communities.”

“Arts matter in Massachusetts,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative, who facilitated the meeting with Grossman. “It increases economic activity, boosts educational opportunities for young people, and helps build strong communities. We look forward to collaborating with the next governor of Massachusetts to support the arts and cultural community in working to its fullest capacity.”

Berwick was the fourth candidate to meet with the Coalition, which previously interviewed Evan Falchuk, Jeff McCormick, and Treasurer Steve Grossman.

The Create the Vote Coalition will continue to meet with candidates and share with the public what they learn. The Coalition looks forward to learning more details from candidates, including those they have already met with, about how their ideas and initiatives for the arts will be implemented from a policy and funding perspective. For more information about the coalition and the Create the Vote campaign, visit

On July 15, the Coalition hosted the historic Gubernatorial Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity, the first-ever gubernatorial debate about arts and culture. The Forum was held at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester and attended by 500 artists, cultural leaders, and members of the public.  Candidates Don Berwick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Mark Fisher, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Jeff McCormick answered questions from moderator Joyce Kulhawik and arts leaders from around the state. A video of the Forum is available here.


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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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