Kelli Moriarty-Finn'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 raised in an arts-centric home. I began studying dance at age 3 and playing trumpet at age 8. During my high school years, I played taps at military funerals for several American Legion Posts in Holyoke. My parents felt strongly that arts were a core component to our education, and were always seeking ways in which we could be further exposed to culture in Western MA. Making the short drive from Holyoke, we often came to Springfield to visit the museums as well as the then Springfield Civic Center and Symphony Hall to see various performances. As a young adult, I always enjoyed the Taste of Springfield, a wonderful event I wish we could resurrect again. As an adult citizen since 2001, I am pleased to enjoy all our city’s venues, and I’m so pleased that many of our cultural events are free to all citizens of Springfield.

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?   

Safety is not just a ‘downtown’ issue; it is city-wide. Therefore, arts and entertainment activities must take place in every neighborhood. People perceive Springfield as being unsafe, and having few quality neighborhoods; both thoughts are untrue. Our city does face public safety issues, and some neighborhoods are more at-risk than others. But unless we work hard to highlight the cultural diversities and create events to showcase the ‘Cultural Springfield’, this perception will continue to exist, and we cannot afford that to occur.

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?

Live, work, play, visit – a wonderful concept that must come to fruition. Certainly events such as White Lion Wednesday and Thunderbird Thursday, along with Cruise Night have gone a long way to keep commuters in Springfield after the workday has completed, but we can do so much more. I’ve stated that as a City Councilor I will advocate for a comprehensive marketing plan for Springfield that encompasses the above – living, working, playing and visiting the City of Homes. We cannot, however, think only in terms of the downtown when we think of Springfield as an arts destination; we must incorporate our 17 neighborhoods and ensure that events occur throughout the city, making art and entertainment accessible to everyone. I’ll advocate for a collaborative effort between neighborhood councils, MGM, the Business Improvement District, and Springfield Central Cultural District to ensure diversity in our cultural offerings.

4. Your Priorities

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

Typically, when people think of the City’s budget, we think of snow removal, pothole repair and items such as those that are services yet lend to a certain quality of life. However, the arts should be included in that grouping. Providing access to quality art and entertainment programs also lends significantly to the quality of life for every citizen in Springfield. While I understand that the city budget must cover a host of essential items, I’d like to see budget dollars appropriated for the support of a yearlong calendar of arts activities within the city. We are very fortunate that several of our largest employers are generous with their sponsorship of events throughout the year, but we must also seek additional funding from our state and local agencies and I will do so as your next City Councilor At-Large.

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