Susan Nicastro's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

1.Your personal connection
How has your personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity had an impact on your life and your view of the community?

I have loved arts, culture and creativity from a very young age. Believe it or not, this klutzy girl studied ballet and learned to sew well. Growing up two hours west of New York City, my family and/or school groups travelled into NYC for Broadway shows and museum visits. I performed in high school plays and the Madrigal Singers and took 4 years of Art. In college, I majored in Human Ecology/Home Economics, studying design/textiles/clothing construction with hopes of studying at Fashion Institute of Technology. I appreciate good design! To this day, whenever I travel, I make sure to visit museums and public gardens. Many cities that I have visited - NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Paris - have terrific museums!

2. Arts & Culture in Brockton
Brockton is home to a mix of arts and cultural organizations.  What is your story about the impact of a local arts or cultural institution in our city?

My experience of the Brockton arts scene was limited for the first 20 years. As a parent, developing our sons' creativity, curiosity and "museum muscles" was important and began when they were very young. Our visits to Brockton's (then Fuller) Art Museum, Historical Society and Fire Museum were short, since our cons were busy, and these venues were not kid-friendly. We occasionally attended musical events at Brockton High School and the Brockton Symphony, homework permitting. Our sons both studied piano with Brockton's amazing Amy Korim; our younger son took piano from kindergarten until the week after his high school graduation! I was very pleased when our Fuller Museum embraced a 'Crafts' niche. I believe it sets it apart from the many other good museums in the Commonwealth and its star is rising. I love going there.

3. Addressing City-wide Issues
What are specific examples of how the arts, culture, and creative community can help solve social problems?  What are your ideas about how the creative community can drive economic development in Brockton?

  • Arts and music education and programs for our Brockton children are VITAL to developing well-rounded people. They teach many lessons, including fostering creativity and innovation! According to the Brockton Public School's 2017 State of the Schools, its programs "...awaken the child's awareness [of] beauty in life and nature and...develop a deep appreciation of social and cultural backgrounds."
  • A specific example: When I first ran for office two years ago, a talented, young Brockton business owner's work impressed me so much that I hired him to design my campaign signs and photograph my family and me. I take bad photos; he did a great job! He proudly credited the instruction and encouragement he received from the BHS Arts Department with his pursuing a college degree in graphic design, which he accomplished and led to his business success.
  • In these divisive, 'Trumpter inspired' times, the "us vs. them" attitude may be relieved by community-wide opportunities to experience music, staged plays and musicals, making and viewing art rising out of the ethnicities of all residents. The shared experience and expression of art can be a bridge! As we all learn more about each other in a creative setting the noticed difference may recede. 
  • A specific example: Last year, I attended an art show opening at Brockton Arts on Dover Street at the invitation of a friend, and experienced for the first time beautiful, colorful, oil paintings created in Haiti. I was dumbstruck by the brushwork and simple scenes depicted so well. I met people from many backgrounds at that show, art lovers all, and learned about the artists. I return to Brockton Arts as often as I can for similar shows. The Brockton Public Library also regularly engages artists, authors and musicians for public presentations and displays of their work in the main Library's beautiful auditorium and second floor gallery rooms.
  • R.E: The Creative Community Driving Economic Development - Businesses want to be where people want to be. People want to be where they can live well and feel safe.

4. Arts Education and Programs for Our Youth
What is your stance on the importance of arts education in schools? Do you support funding of the Creative Challenge Index? The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has pledged to update the Commonwealth's art education curriculum (last updated in 1999) as well as report on access and participation in arts education in school districts. How will you support arts education in the Brockton Public Schools, in the face of never-ending underfunding?

  • I believe arts education is VITAL in the Brockton schools; see my first and second bulleted items under #3 above.
  • The Creative Challenge index arises from a 2012 report from the MA Commission to develop an index of Creative and Innovative Education in the Public Schools. This Commission was created in 2010 economic development law. Funding required for its implementation was cut in the FY 2017 budget. It is a good, forward-thinking idea. In these hard times of declining state funding, however, I prefer funding arts education for children rather than funding the measurement of how well educators promote creativity in students.
  • In Brockton, the Mayor proposes a city budget, which includes the school department budget, and the City Council either approves or reduces it as submitted. With these roles in mind, as a City Councilor, I will do all I can to ensure that the School Budget ultimately approved includes sufficient funding for K-12 arts and music edition.

5. Partnerships with the Creative Community
How would you promote public-private partnerships to support the Brockton creative community?

By being visible in the community at arts and business events, and listening carefully for opportunities to put businesses together with arts organizations for mutual benefit. I love being a matchmaker!

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