Britt Beedenbender's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Arts​ ​and​ ​Culture​ ​in​ ​Your​ ​District
Cape Cod is blessed with a rich mix of arts & cultural organizations. Please name two places within the seven villages where you have had personally significant arts and cultural experiences.

  1. Cotuit Center for the Arts – I have attended countless exhibition there as well as theater productions.  I have also attended several “Wine and Music” Wednesdays. My daughter participated in a spring vacation theater workshop and another vacation week studio arts workshop.  In 2012, I curated an exhibition of works by Richard Neal and Jackie Reeves titled “Art, Gender and Subtext.”

  2. Centerville Historical Museum – I was Director for seven years.  I redesigned the Maritime exhibition, collaborated with Barnstable’s elementary schools to incorporate artifacts from the museum’s collection into the 4th grade curriculum and published a book about the village’s history using its wonderful collection of historic photographs.

Arts​ ​Education​ ​and​ ​Programs​ ​for​ ​our​ ​Youth
Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education and in workforce development in our 21st century economy. How will you champion arts education?

On a state level, I will urge our our reps and Senator to advocate for arts education on Beacon Hill.  

I would like to see greater collaboration between organizations on Cape Cod that are targeted towards youth.  For example, I think the town should support a mural project at the Hyannis Youth and Activity Center.  The interior walls of the building should reflect the energy, youth and diversity that fill it on a daily basis.  The project could be overseen by one of our local arts organizations – whether it is the Conservatory or the Cotuit Center for the Arts, or someone else.  

Similarly, it would be worthwhile to explore the viability of an arts program incorporated into the current programming at the Sheriffs Youth Ranch.  According to the website, programs focus on “self-control, respect, teamwork, integrity, communication, and decision-making skills.”  These are all skills that can be tapped and developed through an arts curriculum, and adding arts to the program may enhance the program’s effectiveness by tapping into other talents, modes of communication and serve as a creative outlet for the students whom they are trying to help.

Economic​ ​Development
There are countless vacant buildings and storefronts from Falmouth to Provincetown, including many on Main Street, Hyannis. It is well established that communities that integrate the arts have a positive impact attracting visitors, jobs, spending, and identity. What incentive might you use to entice landlords and/or businesses to partner up with our local artists to bring new life to vacant main street buildings?

I am not sure how to incentivize landlords, other than to communicate the idea that supporting local artists will in time create a more loyal client base.  I would like to see local restaurants displaying local artists on their walls, businesses hiring local musicians, dancers and other talent for their office/corporate events.

Restaurants could partner with local non-profits in a two-way incentive program.  For example, if someone buys two tickets to the JFK Museum, they get 10% off their bill at a specific restaurant on Main Street.  Likewise, if you purchase dinner at that restaurant, you get 10% off your ticket at the museum.  The idea is to drive traffic between businesses and arts and cultural organizations throughout the town.

Numerous towns (on and off Cape) have enlivened vacant buildings and storefronts by displaying art in the windows as part of a community arts project.  In some cases the project is funded by the town, in others it is funded by the local chamber of commerce.

Nonprofit art and cultural organizations support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually, and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. How will the legislature foster an environment that supports the creative community and tourism across the Commonwealth, and particularly in Barnstable?

The time is ripe on Cape Cod to amplify its recognition of the arts as an economic driver for the region.  Regional discussions are happening regarding the future of the Cape and how to attract, grow and retain businesses that are sustainable.  In the Town of Barnstable, a number of discussions are occurring that involve identifying our niche and what we have to offer as an inducement for business development in the town. The idea is that if we focus on identifying our strengths and natural resources and effectively market them we can grow our economy in a way that makes sense for the town (and for the Cape).  For example, leveraging the success of the Cape Cod baseball league and the vibrant Hyannis Youth and Community Center, the town is looking to build on that sports legacy with the creation of a $12 million sports complex in the Industrial Park.  The arts are a sector that we can build on.  The Cape is known within the arts and cultural community as having a long and storied history of nurturing artists and creative thought.  The Town of Barnstable contributes to that legacy as exemplified by the activities undertaken by a number of its arts organizations. The town should look at this as another viable resource upon which to build our economy.  

Addressing​ ​Cape​ ​Cod’s​ ​Socioeconomic​ ​Issues
Cape Cod faces many economic and social issues, among them homelessness, addiction, and limited services for both youth and seniors. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving Barnstable’s social and economic challenges?

I am not an expert in any of these fields and would want to engage in some significant discussions with people who work with the homeless and in addiction services to determine what would make sense.   That said, it does seem that this is where collaboration could have an impact.  We should think beyond what we consider as “natural” partners – such as the local arts center providing arts programming for students during vacation.  Partnering with social service agencies, senior centers, at-risk youth programs and expanding the typical offering of services by incorporating the arts could have a more significant impact than we realize. Art therapy is one approach used in addiction treatment.  According to some addiction treatment specialists, art therapy can be a great way for a person to work through the experiences, emotions, and issues that have led to and worsened their addiction. It offers a person a safe place to communicate ideas and feelings without using standard conversational methods, and it can therefore be a refreshing change for someone who is looking for something different than standard talk-focused therapy.

 

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