Jesse Lederman'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? 

Some of my earliest memories are visiting the Springfield Museums at the Quadrangle, and participating in Springfield Public Library programming. Today, the many festivals and cultural gatherings that fill Springfield’s summer months come to mind, including the Jazz & Roots Festival, the Mattoon Street Arts Festival, the Caribbean Parade & Festival, and the Stone Soul Festival, which provide endless entertainment, exposure to new experiences, and an opportunity to socialize with friends from across our community. I also sit on the Board of Directors of the Springfield Preservation Trust, which advocates for the protection and restoration of historic homes and buildings, contributing to the culture of our city that is home to some of the largest in-tact historic neighborhoods and buildings in the country. Indeed, these things are some of the best examples of the role the arts play in our community, and highlight the uncommonly large number of opportunities that exist to engage with arts and culture in a city the size of Springfield. They are some of the many reasons I am proud to call Springfield home.

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?   

I believe that the arts can be indispensable in addressing the local issues that we face in Springfield. I would like to see more support for youth programs related to arts, culture, and theatre, and support for organizations that offer such programming, like The Bing Arts Center. I would also like to see more opportunities for our schools to partner with organizations like this. These activities can provide a safe and beneficial space for our city’s youth. I also believe that creative place-making, which I discuss below, can play a large role in improving safety and the economy through inspiring people to visit and return to different areas of the city.

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?

I think that creative place-making can play a significant role in revitalizing community, and drawing people to areas they may not otherwise go, or have not been for a long time, exposing them to the benefits and uniqueness of our many neighborhoods. Places that come to mind that could benefit include Main Street in Indian Orchard, the Springfield Riverfront Park, and the Basketball Monument in Mason Square. An example from another community is the Water Fire event that takes place weekly in Providence, drawing an estimated 350,000 visitors a year to their Downtown. By giving people another reason to come Downtown, they in turn encourage visits to local restaurants and businesses. We are seeing good examples of this already in Springfield, like the weekly White Lion Wednesday and Thunderbird Thursday events. We can build upon events like this in other parts of the city, and draw more visitors from both throughout our own neighborhoods and also from outside the city.

4. Your Priorities

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

I am prepared to be both a partner and a resource for the Springfield Cultural District and the creative community as an At-Large Springfield City Councilor. I am willing to participate in the planning of events, provide letters of recommendation for grant and funding opportunities, and liaison between city departments as necessary. I would also look forward to meeting regularly with representatives of the Springfield Cultural District and other representatives of the creative community to discuss on-going needs and ideas.

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