Matthias Galvin's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

1. Personal Connection

Springfield is blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations.  Please name two places where you have had personally significant arts and/or cultural experiences.  How have these organizations positively affected your life? 

The Main Library in downtown Springfield on State St., and Forest Park—specifically the paths behind the zoo and near the Carriage House at the Barney. But while the places are easy, it’s the stories that are more fun: What made me deeply appreciate the Main library was when I’d reached that certain age of wanting to learn about exotic topics (but before I’d gotten the internet). Seeing that there were books—real, thick, old books—on things like the fractal nature of plants, path-dependence of gambling success, and the commentaries by Hazlitt on Shakespeare were eye-opening; I couldn’t them anywhere else. It was later in Forest Park where I would go with my late friend Jim, and we’d about these very things I’d found. My first time in the ponds in Forest Park amazed me because I didn’t know it was there. I only knew Forest Park for the ball fields and long-way loop around the zoo. Even with the cars, it’s so naturally tranquil. I spent many long walks there, and to this day I still do.

2. Addressing Citywide Issues

Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems such as safety in the downtown district?   

It’s a chicken-and-egg kind of problem, isn’t it? To attract higher-profile culture, the city must be safe; what helps make it safe is a higher cultural profile. Good art done on speculation always comes before prosperity—Kerouac and Ginsberg were in Greenwich Village before it became expensive, just like Northampton used to have Easthampton prices. For a favorable economic environment, the biggest barrier is access: if artists know there is upside here, people worth meeting and opportunities to sell their creations—not just a living, but a life to be made.

What’d I’d try and do is solicit patrons to sponsor galleries, donate to higher-profile artistic events and celebrations, and organize general citywide cultural refocusing events. Why can’t we lease The Treachery of Images for the Springfield Museum? Why can’t we tie that in with a local art competition themed with visual metaphors a la Magritte? Why can’t the premiere and contest be done in a black-tie-optional event gala at the museum? Lets think big.

3. An Arts Destination

While Springfield is growing as a community, the city has yet to fully leverage the strength of our arts, culture, and creative community as a means for branding and attracting residents, employees, and visitors.  How would you utilize our community to make Springfield a place where people want to live, work, play, and visit?

As someone who visits West Hartford and Northampton, I’ve learned a little about the texture of the environment is that Springfield has opportunity to create a cultural center. In lots of ways, what attracts the culturally-interested isn’t just the arts, but the texture of the environment. Knowing that they can carouse the streets and be pleasantly surprised by the coffee shops, the quirky stores, the tasty restaurants.

The city council has the unique ability to use zoning to help shape locales in this way, when there’s the opportunity to do so. Greater, however, is just solicitation of entrepreneurs: if we all—and I mean all—have a vision to improve the texture of Springfield, then the enterprise will follow the wave.

4. Your Priorities

When elected, what actions will you take to provide support and resources to the creative community?

I’ve mentioned a lot of what I’ll do in the answers previously: creation of a safety-focused urban downtown; encouraging improving bohemian cultural centers in the city, and focusing on events which build our brand internally and attract visitors. But I haven’t mentioned the most important thing I want to do:

I want to try and bring in money. The Renaissance happened because of wealth—the Duomo, La Gioconda, and the doors of the Battisterio in Firenze happened because people paid for them. There are patrons here—people dying to have bespoke art, made just for them, in Springfield and nearby. And I’m going to pitch to them what I’ll ask you:

What is money—even a lot of money—in exchange for something timeless?

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