Jynai McDonald'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 Springfield Jazz and Arts festival is an incredible testament to our rich mix of arts and cultural organizations in Springfield. Highlighting musicians, poets, artisans, vendors, and all manner of community participants, there is truly something for everyone. Local dedication and collaboration makes it possible for people from all walks of life to enjoy the downtown area, arts, and culture. By supporting organizations and individuals who have made it possible for the Jazz Festival to continue to expand in fun and exciting ways, we can help ensure a legacy of cultural arts in Springfield for years to come.

Just recently, I had a wonderful experience at the Springfield Museums, watching the solar eclipse with a large crowd of Springfield residents and guests. My campaign manager and I took our lunch break to walk to the Museum, where we enjoyed the large telescopes set up by the Museum, as well as the special eclipse glasses that were given out. Adults and children alike were so excited by the solar eclipse- you could see people sharing glasses and viewing boxes, and generally enjoying being outside together as a community. This is just one small example of the rich additions to our overall city enjoyment that supporting local arts and culture can bring.

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?   

By prioritizing arts and culture, we are able change the dynamic of our City – but especially our downtown district. With more people heading outside than ever before to enjoy the events happening in our city, are able to influence the atmosphere in which they take place. Initiatives like the art stops or painted piano projects are crucial – adding color and flair Springfield can restore our vibrant downtown and support new cultural developments. Bringing people out of their homes and into the community is crucial to solving any social perceptions of safety.

In addition, I truly believe by incorporating more programs for music, art, dance, and more in collaboration with the Springfield Public School district, we can encourage a new generation to appreciate arts and culture in Springfield. We have a rich history of cultural institutions, such as the Symphony Hall, City Stage, Springfield Museums and Libraries – I would seek to build a coalition of community partners to support the work of the incredible initiatives we already have, and find ways to identify more sources of revenue to support the expansion of arts and culture programming for our youth in schools. By sharing a passion for music and culture with our youth, we build our children towards the future while giving them somewhere safe to go after school. We should encourage arts festivals on the same scale as adult community gatherings for our children.

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 would seek to establish a full time cultural arts director, or its equivalent, for our city. While we have devoted and enthusiastic people working on behalf of our downtown space, utilizing a dedicated chief of arts and culture for the entire City would be crucial to establishing branding, which in turns attracts residents and visitors to Springfield. Artists, local institutions, and the downtown districts must be supported not only financially by our city, but patronized and supported in action as well.

I would work closely with the offices of the Mayor, Council, City Planning and Economic Development, as well as the Springfield Business Improvement District and Springfield Central Cultural District to establish a central, branded city calendar. By centralizing information, we are able to share information about upcoming events and opportunities with a wider audience of people.

4. Your Priorities

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

I hope to continue the great work of the Cultural District to recruit and pay artists to continue to bring beauty and art throughout Springfield, and display our City’s rich cultural history. I would be a strong supporter of any proposals that came before the Council requiring funding or publicity to support the efforts of our downtown renaissance.
In addition, I would work with other councilors, city officials, developers, business owners, and more to address stagnant zoning issues in the downtown area to encourage small business owners thrive. According to the SCCD factsheet, the arts truly do mean business – the direct economic impact of the creative economy in Springfield is over $50 million annually. We have valuable space just blocks from our reviving downtown that could be redeveloped or otherwise improved for future use and investments. By working with local partners to identify proper land use of developable parcels, ensuring dedicated investments for further improvements to downtown, and fostering relationships between innovative maker spaces for the community to express themselves - we are able to attract more robust spaces for living, working, and visiting. Springfield is truly blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations.

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