Gary Rosen's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

  1. How would you engage the creative community to drive economic development and build social capital in our neighborhoods and throughout the city?

    Better informing our students, residents, business owners and visitors to the city of the goals and many accomplishments of the city’s creative community would be helpful in building additional social capital throughout our city. Economic development is spurred by well-publicized examples of what’s happening locally in the various arts. Worcester needs to brag more about the many murals, performances, recitals and displays that make this city a vibrant and fascinating one.
  2. What revenue sources will you create or use to increase the city’s investment in the creative community?

    Although Worcester’s appointed and elected leaders need to recognize the pain of our residential and commercial taxpayers, a reasonable amount of tax levy money should be made available each fiscal year to promote the work of our creative community. That community’s efforts and successes bring so much more investment in the city than dollars we expend. While the results show the city and its arts community are adept and successful at grant writing, it would be productive to have some of our universities, large corporations and other agencies form a new coalition to donate some of their funds and to seek new funding for our local creative community.
  3. What will you do to support arts education in the city’s schools and in our community?

    As a former elected member of the Worcester School Committee, I know well the city council’s role is to fund the bottom line of the Worcester Public Schools. How the school committee and school administration divide up and spend that money is at their sole discretion. However, lobbying of school officials by city councilors, parents, community groups, etc. for causes such as increased arts education in our schools can be an effective avenue to take. I’d be glad to promote such efforts
  4. Worcester is fortunate to have leadership in its administration that supports public art throughout the city. Would you support a Percent for Art program for state and local development projects?

    As an elected city councilor, I have been a strong supporter of the city manager and council’s desire to present and promote public art throughout the city. Once a firm and detailed proposal is made for a Percent for Art program, I’d certainly consider strongly supporting it. The return to the city, our residents and businesses from our public art projects and successes far exceeds the money expended.
  5. How would you use the arts and culture community to build connections that maintain and support the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity that makes Worcester a truly creative city for all?

    Not being an expert on this, I’d first poll many members of the arts and culture community on their thoughts, ideas and vision for promoting the arts in neighborhoods and throughout the city. Appointed and elected officials do not have a monopoly on ideas to how best accomplish this.
    I am willing to listen and learn and once we decide on the best course of action, to work hard to make the arts more accessible and affordable to our diverse population. I’d welcome advice on how to do that.
  6. What will you do to provide more affordable housing and work spaces for artists?

    In my beautiful District 5, and throughout the city, there are so many vacant, but usable buildings. Most are a blight on the community. Surely some would have much potential to house artists and provide work and show space for them. Since some of these building have sat empty for years while the owners continue to pay annual property taxes, perhaps at least a few of these owners would be willing to donate such facilities (or let them go at a low price), thereby realizing tax savings for them too. Or maybe they’d be willing to repair such buildings and lease them out to groups of artists at a reasonable price. Nothing ventured by the city in this regard, nothing gained.
  7. The Worcester Cultural Coalition Needs Assessment demonstrates the current supply of space does not meet the demand of the arts community. What steps will you take to address this problem?

    Again, I’d try to negotiate agreements with the owners of vacant buildings throughout the city. The cost to owners keeping these buildings just sitting there underutilized might make them much more amenable to dealing and supporting our local creative community’s needs.
  8. What personal experience with arts, culture and creativity have your participated in over the last year?

    While my performing and artistic talent is limited, last December,I donned the professional costume and mustered all of my acting ability to play a very welcoming, energetic and jolly Santa Claus at Preservation Worcester’s huge fundraiser, the one-night “reopening” of the city’s famed Denholm Department Store. Hundreds of party-goers sat on my lap to have their picture taken with a Jewish Santa who they did not know was me.
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