Justin Hurst'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 first arts experience that I can remember was when my older sister brought me to the Springfield Science Museum where my brother and I were able to experience a multitude of exhibits, see animals that I had only read about in books, learn about astronomy in the planetarium, and of course, I can’t forget about the dinosaurs that amazed us when we first entered. I am now able to provide my two sons with a similar experience that I enjoyed as a kid.

In addition to the museums, I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the Harambee that many of our younger children now know to be the Stone Soul Festival. It was a place where people came together to listen to music, eat cultural foods that nourished the soul, shared history and celebrated accomplishments, enjoyed the rides, and fellowshipped with friends and neighbors.

Both of these events created memories to last a life time and reminded me of the rich tradition of Springfield and all that this city has to offer. 

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?  

The more people you have in the downtown area celebrating the arts, culture, and Springfield’s rich history the less likely you will have people frequenting downtown who are up to no good. Whether it is the Jazz or Craft Beer Festivals, performances and shows at Symphony Hall or City Stage, or the Painted Pianos Project and Art Stops, the more we do to bring people downtown the safer residents are going to feel.  My goal would be to work with the Springfield Central Cultural District to expand upon the great projects that we already have and identify resources to implement projects that will draw people from throughout the Pioneer Valley to frequent our downtown. I also think it is important to work with the Business Improvement District to ensure that events like Cruise Night, White Lion Wednesdays and Thunderbird Thursdays continue to take place.

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?

The first thing I would do is work with the Business Improvement District and the Springfield Central Cultural District and its member organizations to encourage them to continue bringing a wide variety of events to our downtown. Springfield has grown tremendously over the last few years when it comes to offering a variety of rich, cultural activities to our Springfield residents and the Pioneer Valley. I would also make sure to include MGM in the discussion as there should be many ways in which the aforementioned organizations can collaborate with MGM to leverage the strength of the arts, culture, and creative economy even more.  

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

If a creative economy indeed has all of the economic impacts that the research says it does, then as a City we need to make it a priority to adequately fund the Springfield Central Cultural District to expand on the great work it is already doing. In my four years on the City Council, I have never seen a specific line item dedicated to the arts and it is my intention to lobby the Mayor to included funding for the Springfield Central Cultural District as part of the 2018 budget.

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