Jack Connolly's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Your Personal Connection
Somerville is fortunate to have a rich cultural community. Please tell us about two instances in which you have had personally significant experiences with the arts and/or culture in Somerville.

Since serving as a BOA member, I have supported the funding and expansion of the Somerville Arts Council since the Mayor Brune Administration. I have been active in production initial organization of the annual ArtBeat event in Davis Sq, and have donated contributions since inception.

Active in the initial and now annual Honk! Festival here in Davis Square.

Executive and local logistics producer of the annual March showings of the Irish Film Festival at the Somerville Theatre.

City Investment in the Arts
How would you ensure government continues to support the creative community?

As long as I serve on the BOA, the Somerville Arts Council and the Arts and Culture community has a good friend, supporter, and donor.

As an elected official how would you ensure the Somerville cultural community receives the funding it needs to be a driving force in the city and region?

Actively work with City Arts' Council Director to maintain and expand where possible the existing Arts Council budget, and solicit support form local businesses and the large non-profits such as Partners HealthCare, Tufts, Harvard, and Lesley Universities.

At what financial level should the city invest in the creative sector?

To the maximum extent possible based on the participation and involvement of the arts and culture community.

Do you support incremental increases, and if so, at what percent?  

Would support increases as advised by Arts Council staff and arts community to highest level possible.

How might this relate to the Arts Council and staffing?

Would support increased direct appropriations from the Mayor to the Arts Council, including expanding the role of the Arts Council.

Do you believe that investment in infrastructure for the arts in Somerville will prove valuable in sustaining and growing our creative ecosystem and cultural economy?

Absolutely, especially with the popularity of film events here in the City, such as the Irish Film Festival, Boston Independent Film Festival, Banff Film Festival, and musical and comedy performances.

Cultural Infrastructure and ArtFarm
Three years ago, Somerville started the planning process to redevelop the former waste transfer site into a site that would support the physical infrastructure needs of both the arts and urban agricultural community. Do you, as a candidate, support this effort?

Yes, and will encourage City Administration to develop as originally proposed.

At this site?

Yes, I will support at the former waste transfer station site.

And if so, what can you do to ensure it becomes a reality? Considering that the City views itself innovative, which aspects of ArtFarm do you find innovative in a way that would reinforce the culturally progressive nature of our changing City?  

Having the Art Farm so close to the T stop is a major plus for the City and the Arts community, with active participation year-round for artists, possible vendors, and community members.

ArtFarm has received 1.4 million in outside investment — do you support further City investment to make ArtFarm a permanent cultural resource for Somerville?

Yes, and encourage City staff in OSPCD to seek additional grant funding.

In addition to ArtFarm, what are other strategies and means can you imagine that would further develop and support the cultural infrastructure of the City?

Encourage joint collaborative efforts for arts and entertainment, especially music and film, with non-profits and local businesses.

Supporting a Diverse and Inclusive City
Somerville is a diverse and thriving community. How would you support creative community to build connections that maintain and support the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity that makes this City thrive?

I will continue to encourage City and community organizations to celebrate their cultural heritage at SomerStreets events, etc.

How would you ensure that immigrants play pivotal roles in shaping our cultural infrastructure?

Require City Arts Council to conduct annual cultural celebrations and events with sponsorship of local businesses and non-profits.

Do you see immigrants getting priced out of Somerville as a problem — and what are your ideas to retain our immigrant communities, and thus sustain our diverse culture?

Not just immigrants are being priced out; Additional housing units MUST be built to accommodate both immigrant and low-income families.

Public Art and Creative Placemaking
Somerville does a wonderful job of supporting art and artists in public spaces through it’s many festivals and civic events; how will you ensure this continues and reflects the diverse community?

If elected, I will remain outspoken and encourage annual funding in the City Arts Council budget and encourage local businesses' to make donations in support of all of our Arts and Cultural activities such as Porchfest, Somerstreets, ArtBeat, etc.

How would you expand upon the “temporary” events and create more permanent works embedded in the Somerville landscape?

Will adapt to more permanent works based on reasonable requests from the arts and cultural community, where publicly and financially possible from City funds.

Would this look like a traditional percent-for-permanent-art program, tied to development, similar to Cambridge?

Yes, that is a concept worthy of consideration that could work here in Somerville: Glad to be involved with sponsorship.

How could you leverage the expansive private development occurring in the City to invest in sustaining arts and culture?

Consider tax reductions for significant contributions by developers after review by special review committee set up with the Arts Council participation.

Space to Rehearse, Create and Live

The lack of affordable studio space and housing makes it hard for artists—not to mention working class families and immigrants— to stay in Somerville. How would you keep artists of all backgrounds in the city and provide the infrastructure necessary for them to thrive? 

Live-work, rehearsal, and creative studio construction for artists and makers should be included in City Zoning overhaul: Permit process should be streamlined for renovations to existing structures.

What specifically can the City accomplish and how can it leverage private development to provide more live and work spaces for artists?  

City should consider adopting tax reductions/abatements' for developers who construct buildings like Mix-It Studios on Clifton St. and Inkspot on Winslow Ave.

Do you support current initiatives including work/live housing for artists and fabrication zoning to retain creative spaces?

Yes. It should be clearly included in the Zoning update soon to be submitted to the BOA; I am a strong supporter of that  concept clearly defined in the regulations.

Youth Engagement

Engaging students with the arts in school and out of school is essential to educating the whole child. While the Somerville school curricula provides access to many, we need more participation in arts education. Somerville’s out of school youth arts organizations continue to service thousands of kids, yet struggle to raise the resources needed to meet student demand. How would you invest in arts education for students of all ages, both inside and outside of school to ensure all youth in Somerville have a connection to the arts?

Will continue to support all City Arts Council and/or School Department and community Arts and Cultural recommendations for participation in performing arts, both in and out of school programs.  


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