Tracye Whitfield'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 first place that I remember exposure to the arts was music class in Springfield Public Schools. I chose to play the violin. I was fascinated because I was the only seven-year-old girl and only black person that I knew that played the violin. I felt special and important. At an early age, I learned about responsibility and teamwork. I give partial credit of that to the arts. It was my responsibility to care for the instrument and bring it to every music class. I also had to know my parts and when it was my turn to play. The entire chorus depended on me to sound good. Therefore, I always strived to do my best for them.

In my teenage years, I participated in art and culture programs at community centers like the Boys and Girls Club and MLK. Without those curriculums and funding, I would not have had such opportunities. When I found out that the Dunbar Community Center was in jeopardy of being sold, I knew I had to be part of the solution. I was approached by Ellen Freyman to be on the Forever Dunbar Board in an effort to raise funds to save the Dunbar building. I accepted. She then asked if I would chair the Board. I accepted. The board and the committee showcased a Broadway themed performance on October 2016 called “Broadway Comes to Springfield”. It happened right here in our great city at Center Stage. We raised over $27,000 but netted $9,000. Dunbar has subsequently been bought by Mt. Zion Church. In October, we will donate that money to programming held at the Dunbar.


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?

Live music, festivals, plays and movie nights bring people together and change the perception of public safety. Residents feel safe leaving their homes to bond over music and performances. It simply creates a since of community. I will advocate and support programs like the Jazz Fest, art gallery debuts and live entertainment. I will also continue to partner with organizations, like the Dunbar Center, to bring quality programming to underserved youth and families and provide a platform for residents to express themselves through creative art.

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 believe the arts and social change go hand in hand. Art is a way of expressing ones feeling which can turn into dialogue and over time effect change. Arts and Culture also has a way of shedding positive light on any community. A variety of art and culture activities give our residents positive things to do so they are visible and as a result decrease crime. Studies show that youth involved in the arts and sports do better in school than nonparticipants. As a City Councilor, I will look for area, ideas and programs that change the perception of Springfield and improve the city’s overall state. I will bring the community together to raise awareness about and raise funding for arts and culture programs A.S.A.P. Always Springfield Always Positive!

4. Your Priorities

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

The Creative Community is the bedrock of any society because it helps shape the cultural life and enhances diversity. If elected to City Council, I will increase awareness and be an advocate for programs that uplift the arts and culture. During the City’s Budget review, I will advocate that arts and culture is represented because it touches all aspects of our City. If there is money to increase a stable reserves account, there is money to give to the arts and invest in our city.


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