Christine Long's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Your Personal Connection
We've all had defining moments in our lives. What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of the community? 

I was born and raised in Wellesley Massachusetts and as such the fine arts, performing arts and appreciation for the history and natural beauty of our Town and community as a whole was incorporated into my educational experience and very much a part all children growing up in Wellesley. I took piano lessons from age four through high school. I was taught the bass violin and participated in the high school orchestra as a bass player. Skating lessons at St. Moritz, gymnastics, regular visits to all the Boston arts and science museum was part of my life growing up. These elements were part of a true liberal arts education. In addition, both my mother and father possessed a passion and high level of skill in landscape design, and the culinary arts. In addition my mother was a seamstress and made most of the family’s clothing while working for others throughout Wellesley. Wellesley College, Babson College, Dana Hall all reside within Wellesley. Both Babson College and Wellesley College offer a large array of cultural, artistic and scientific offerings for the general public. The community embraces these educational facilities to the highest degree. I learned a great appreciation for the natural beauty of historic architectural buildings throughout Wellesley, Boston and New England. While I studied at Boston College I took architecture, photography and history courses to learn more about these subjects with a particular interest in New England. I currently live on 10 Hemenway Road and own a property that contains conservation land. I am located within walking distance to the Garden in the Woods which is a wonderful amenity that Framingham has to offer its residents. I have made a large financial investment by making renovation improvements to my home and the landscape design of my property, with particular attention to attracting wildlife and rare birds that frequent woodland areas. I am happy to say that the hummingbirds and now 5 species of woodpeckers, including the pileated, are thriving in my backyard haven. I am working on attracting bluebirds now! 

Arts and Culture in the City
Framingham is blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please describe one or two significant arts and or cultural experiences you have had here recently.

I support and attend Amazing Things Art Center when I have time in a currently extremely busy schedule. I find their offerings are exceptional particularly regarding jazz artists. I am a regular visitor of the Garden in the Woods since I live within walking distance of the Garden. The History Center is of particular interest to me since Framingham is extremely rich in history. The Village Hall and the Edgell Memorial Library are places I visit and support. Loring Arena is where both of my daughters learned to skate and I have also greatly enjoyed the use of this facility in the past and plan to use it in the future. We need more amenities of this type. Cushing Park is a great asset to the community as we continue to improve the quality of life and health of our residents.

Addressing Citywide Issues
Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in helping to improve multicultural relations in the city? Given the economic impact of our arts and cultural organizations on the local community, how would you strengthen our creative economy?

Framingham is rich in diversity and as such the community needs to embrace diversity and bring in businesses that improve and enhance cultural affairs, thus growing its creative economy. The Brazilian and Hispanic population is a large part of the community and needs to be respected and encouraged to participate actively as such. As a prospective councilor I plan to work to attract and retain arts and cultural organizations to invest in Framingham. My support for the purchase of the Maynard building by Framingham State University for an art center was to improve the relationship with Framingham State as well as to bring more art offerings to Framingham residents with the intention of attracting outsiders to the area. Framingham needs to strengthen its relationship with MassBay and Framingham State University and partner with them to bring those components that are integral to a well rounded education involved with the fine arts, performing arts and all other cultural affairs. In this way it will improve the community’s competitive edge and create a defining sense of place. Framingham would then attract new populations to locate within the community while attracting visitors. The arts and particularly artist workspaces will then bring in a more creative economic component with job clusters based within these creative industries. In turn, this will encourage and attract those businesses associated with the creative art industries thus increasing job opportunities while in turn improve the tax base.

Revitalization within neighborhoods needs to be addressed by emphasis on creativity. Mixed used development provides the ability to locate those small businesses involved with artists and cultural affairs such as Amazing Things Art together with the physical density of human capital. Framingham needs to develop a marketing program and strategy regarding its assets in order to be successful in attracting a workforce to help sustain the high level of quality of life for its residents. Currently we have a Maker’s Space in Saxonville that is thriving along with other similar uses within the site it occupies. Unfortunately, the Fountain Street Art Studios have been closed due to the condition of the building but opportunities exist within Framingham to relocate these artists within Framingham. Framingham needs to have a plan to connect the arts and cultural sector with related industries such as manufacturing and tourism in order to improve its economic outlook for the future. This has been a continued area of concern for me since I have not seen a program or plan for economic development within our community. I am puzzled why this is so, particularly since Framingham possesses so many natural assets that could be used to attract and retain new business opportunities.. Creation of arts specific business incubators has been incorporated into the newly adopted Central Business Zoning District. This was crafted to encourage the arts and cultural affairs sector into the downtown area as a revitalization tool. In addition, the creation of artists space will bring with it associated uses such as book stores, learning centers and other associated resource uses that can connect with our existing libraries and educational partners in Framingham.

An Arts Destination
While Framingham 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 Framingham a place where people want to live, work, play, and visit?

I plan to promote and support cultural amenities with the intent to attract economic investment and skilled workers. I will continue to do this even if not elected to Council. I have had the pleasure to serve for a decade as an elected Planning Board member which has provided me with the knowledge, skills and ability to understand and identify those methods and resources to achieve this goal. Promoting cultural amenities while partnering with educational facilities will provide the base needed to attract and infuse economic investment and a skilled workforce into the community. Framingham will need to adopt policies that promote growth of the arts and cultural affairs. Cultural and art festivals need to be encouraged. Metro-fest is a good start but we need to do so much more to engage those living within our community, to promote that we embrace the diversity of the community and want to include them in our future plan for redevelopment. I used to regularly participate with my children in the Flag Day Parade. For some reason this event ended quite some time ago. Event such as the Flag Day Parade provide a sense of community that is currently missing from Framingham. We need regular community outreach and gatherings to embrace and celebrate who we are and to get to know one another and understand what the residents truly want and need to address future growth. 

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