Dennis Carlone's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Your Personal Connection
We’ve all had defining moments in our lives. What personal connections with the arts and creative expression have had an impact on your life and views of the community?

I am an architect, urban designer and lecturer. From an early age I was always attracted to things of beauty, whether it was music, buildings or paintings. Looking back at my career I now realize that this perspective led me to love urban design. All those elements of the arts are integrated into an understanding of what makes a beautiful city and raises the quality of life for all its inhabitants.

City Investment in the Arts
As a City Councilor, how would you ensure Cambridge arts and creative community receives the funding it needs to fully realize its potential as a driving force in the community? While city investment in the Cambridge Arts Council has increased over past few years, direct support to the arts and cultural community does not meet the demand. Would you support a dedicated funding stream to provide funds for the creative community? At what financial level should the city invest in the Cambridge arts and creative sector?

The arts are essential to a growing mind through stimulation, emotional reaction, growing knowledge, and an expansion of what is possible. The arts are an outlet for personal expression. All great cities literally excel in the arts. If we truly aspire to be a great city we must do much more to express the artistic side of our being. Given my interests and background it should be clear that I want to expand budget for the arts at every level. Indeed I have expressed myself at council meetings on this subject. I would support a dedicated funding stream to provide such funds for the creative community. As far as what financial level should the city invest in the arts, I would respond that the creative arts community should develop an ideal program and related budget to present to the City Council which would then work out a realistic implementation strategy. Just coming up with a financial level without a program will result in very little progress.

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

A truly welcoming community embraces and works to expand its diversity. All citizens should have access to the arts both in expressing themselves or gaining greater insight in the expression of others. The arts have a way of opening up dialogue and crossing cultural barriers. Two past programs highlight the possibility of better integrating the arts into our community and at the same time connecting residents to an important location. The first is the artwork at the Davis Square red line station, which immortalized the artwork of school local schoolchildren onto the wall tiles. This permanent display focused on elementary school art and is still enjoyed to this day by all who use the station. The other example is in East Cambridge and highlights the early history of the neighborhood through a colorful folk art sculpture. Encouraging and funding partnerships that work with Cambridge’s different neighborhoods to create public art displays and organize community arts programs is vital to helping residents tell their stories and share their history in Cambridge according to their own self-determination. This is good for the aesthetic and soul of the entire City.

Public Art and Creative Placemaking
Cambridge’s public art program is the oldest in the country. The city has a long history of supporting public art, yet caps and limits on funding have hampered artists’ abilities to fully engage and serve the communities. Would you consider expanding the program to require a percent for arts on private development projects, as well as public ones? Would you support expanding the use of % for arts funds beyond visual arts to performing arts?

As a consultant to the Cambridge arts Council, I worked on an award-winning public art project. At the same time the arts Council was helping oversee the MBTA’s 1% contribution for the arts program. I fully support a similar 1% for the arts in any public project. Depending on the urban design opportunities for a variety of art projects, yes, I support the inclusion of performing arts to benefit from the program.

Space to Rehearse, Create and Live
The lack of affordable studio space and housing makes it hard for artists to stay in Cambridge. How would you keep artists of all backgrounds in the city and provide the support necessary to thrive?

The city’s long-term efforts to greatly expand commercial development has led to dramatic increases in studio space and housing costs. Although the public focus has been on affordable housing and small retail rents, artists have been equally affected. Even architects are moving their practices outside of Cambridge for the same reason. The need for affordable housing is so great in Cambridge, especially for low-income residents with few choices, that a significant focus on artists’ needs is less likely. However, I would stress that many artists are low income and should be included in future affordable housing opportunities in a live-work space. I would encourage artists to organize together as a group and come to the city with their specific needs. I have a record of working with neighborhood groups and will gladly assist in these efforts with artist groups.

Public Events
Some community institutions and artist groups have problems gaining access to public spaces in which they can gather, perform, create, and connect with the public. Would you encourage ways to allow more activity in community spaces?

Absolutely. Our public buildings, and private buildings requiring a special permit, should be available for greater public use and benefit.

Youth Engagement
Engaging students with the arts in school and out of school is essential to educating the whole child. While the CPS arts education curricula provides access to many, we need more participation in arts education. Cambridge’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 Cambridge have a connection to the arts?

Simply stated, arts education is a necessity for all students. If we, as a City, are to say that Cambridge is a well-educated, creative community, we must do all that we can to develop our residents’ talents in the creative arts. Studies have shown that a diverse group of creative people find the most responsive solutions to problems. I have mentored 18 different students in after-school and summer extension programs and have seen the profound, positive affect it can have on a child’s life and
education. We must find ways to implement similar, arts-focused programs for Cambridge’s students that build one-on-one relationships.

Corporate and Institutional Support for Arts and Creativity
Cambridge is home to many large corporate offices and world renowned educational institutions, whose workers and students enjoy Cambridge’s cultural assets. What responsibility should these institutions have in supporting arts and creative expression
in Cambridge?

They all need to be responsive neighbors, participants, and allies with the arts. Perhaps by organizing and contributing to arts mentoring programs as I introduced in question 7. Obviously, some do more than others and by highlighting those who are most involved, perhaps others will see the need to be better involved.

Your “Go to” Places
Cambridge is blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please tell us about two places where you have had personally significant connections to the arts and/or cultural experiences.

Actually I don't believe Cambridge lives up to the level of arts and cultural organizations support that most people believe it does. Other than University facilities, I fear the remaining arts and cultural groups struggle far too much to meet their yearly budget and are therefore limited in the programs they can offer.
Although I go infrequently, I enjoy theater, ballet and visiting museums. We take in a show at the ART (and the Arrow Street location) and the Harvard Museum primarily. The other major events are festivals, especially the River Festival.
I am an ally in all your efforts and look forward to working with you to connect the
Cambridge community, as a whole, to new and exciting arts opportunities.
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