Kency Gilet'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?

I was blessed to walk in the Holyoke St Patrick’s Day Parade with my company, River Valley Counseling. It’s one thing to watch the parade, but to walk and feel connected to a waving child standing with their family was personally rewarding. To have that experience happen over and over again is an experience I won’t soon forget. I was able to see the diversity of our communities and our ability to celebrate together a culture that has so heavily influenced our communities.

I attended the International 2016 Women’s Day Celebration hosted by AfriKque Limited with my daughter. This charity event benefited woman who are hungry, homeless, and poor. It also highlighted the talents, the strength and resiliency of women. My daughter, Ally, and I were blown away be the songs, dances, and spoken word performed by women of all ages and varied cultural backgrounds. We were also exposed to the different foods from local vendor and clothing from nations we haven’t even heard of. I’m happy I was able to share this experience with my daughter because we both learned that there is so much more to learn about people and that she (my daughter) is so special in her own way.

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?   

We have already begun to see art being used downtown as murals go up on electrical transformers on the sidewalks. My focus is to empower Springfield families to shape their own measure of success and happiness. In that vein, I want to ensure that each of our city departments are culturally sensitive to the backgrounds of employees and residents. That means being understanding of significant dates that someone of a particular culture or religion may observe and providing them the ability to celebrate without harm to their position or pay. This will ensure our city attracts a culturally diverse workforce, which in turn empowers our diverse teen population to aspire to positions of leadership.

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?

There is a large number of college-aged students in our city during the school year. By hosting more shows, festivals related to the arts we could attract young adults to stay and put roots down in Springfield. The ongoing complaint I hear from my patients who are trying to structure their free time is that there are not enough artistic and musical events within Springfield. There is a strong interest among the young adults entering the workforce here to move to a thriving and entertaining city. I want to rebrand Springfield as the artistic and cultural mecca of Central and Western Mass. We have the talent; we just need to provide the venues and opportunities.

4. Your Priorities

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

Part of my platform to reduce crime and violence, particularly within the teen populations, includes having safe and fun venues for teens to congregate in the evening. This includes using school buildings for open gyms, music and art related space to host events such as ‘Teen Open Mic nights’ and community talent shows. I want to provide a platform for our creative neighbors to shine and grow. This is an immediate priority for me. I will pursue grants and partnerships with other city departments and leaders on Beacon Hill to make this possibility a reality.

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