Dennis Sullivan's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Your Personal Connection
Somerville is fortunate to have a rich cultural community. Please tell us about two instances in which you have had personally significant experiences with the arts and/or culture in Somerville.

I love attending open studios to view the creativity of our local artists. For the past 14 years, I participate as a guide in the city’s illuminations tour dressed as Santa.

City Investment in the Arts
How would you ensure government continues to support the creative community? As an elected official how would you ensure the Somerville cultural community receives the funding it needs to be a driving force in the city and region? At what financial level should the city invest in the creative sector? Do you support incremental increases, and if so, at what percent?  How might this relate to the Arts Council and staffing? Do you believe that investment in infrastructure for the arts in Somerville will prove valuable in sustaining and growing our creative ecosystem and cultural economy?

Arts enrich our community and I support funding these programs.  The Arts Council does a fabulous job for very little money.  I have fully supported the Arts Council in the budget for the past fourteen years and will continue to do so.  I support incremental increases and am open to consider the percent.  We are fortunate to have Greg Jenkins leading this department.

Cultural Infrastructure and ArtFarm
Three years ago, Somerville started the planning process to redevelop the former waste transfer site into a site that would support the physical infrastructure needs of both the arts and urban agricultural community.  Do you, as a candidate, support this effort?  At this site? And if so, what can you do to ensure it becomes a reality?  Considering that the City views itself innovative, which aspects of ArtFarm do you find innovative in a way that would reinforce the culturally progressive nature of our changing City?  ArtFarm has received 1.4 million in outside investment — do you support further City investment to make Artfarm a permanent cultural resource for Somerville? In addition to ArtFarm, what are other strategies and means can you imagine that would further develop and support the cultural infrastructure of the City?

I was happy to support the closing of waste transfer site from a health standpoint.  As a father of a three year old daughter, Artfarm is a great asset to our community to teach younger generations about environmental sustainability and appreciation of the arts.  The benefits of Artfarm are  numerous.  I will explore dedicating Community block grant funding and money from the budget to ensure the future success.

Supporting a Diverse and Inclusive City
Somerville is a diverse and thriving community. How would you support creative community to build connections that maintain and support the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity that makes this City thrive? How would you ensure that immigrants play pivotal roles in shaping our cultural infrastructure? Do you see immigrants getting priced out of Somerville as a problem — and what are your ideas to retain our immigrant communities, and thus sustain our diverse culture?

I do see immigrants being priced out.  In the past, I have supported increasing the percentage of inclusionary housing and increasing the linkage fee commercial developers pay into the affordable housing trust fund.    I will continue to look at all ideas to increase affordability.  Socioeconomic and racial diversity are important for the enrichment of our city.  I look forward to working with all residents to improve in this area.

Public Art and Creative Placemaking
Somerville does a wonderful job of supporting art and artists in public spaces through it’s many festivals and civic events; how will you ensure this continues and reflects the diverse community? How would you expand upon the “temporary” events and create more permanent works embedded in the Somerville landscape? Would this look like a traditional percent-for-permanent-art program, tied to development, similar to Cambridge? How could you leverage the expansive private development occurring in the City to invest in sustaining arts and culture?

I will explore increasing Public​ ​Art​ ​and​ ​Creative​ ​Placemaking through the new zoning being considered.

Space to Rehearse, Create and Live
The lack of affordable studio space and housing makes it hard for artists—not to mention working class families and immigrants— to stay in Somerville. How would you keep artists of all backgrounds in the city and provide the infrastructure necessary for them to thrive?  What specifically can the City accomplish and how can it leverage private development to provide more live and work spaces for artists?  Do you support current initiatives including work/live housing for artists and fabrication zoning to retain creative spaces?

I will explore increasing Public​ ​Art​ ​and​ ​Creative​ ​Placemaking through the new zoning being considered.

Youth Engagement
Engaging students with the arts in school and out of school is essential to educating the whole child. While the Somerville school curricula provides access to many, we need more participation in arts education. Somerville’s out of school youth arts organizations continue to service thousands of kids, yet struggle to raise the resources needed to meet student demand. How would you invest in arts education for students of all ages, both inside and outside of school to ensure all youth in Somerville have a connection to the arts?

After School programs and out of school programs are needed for all children.  I will look to increase the School department and recreation department budgets to expand arts programming.



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