Patrick Joseph Kearney's Response to the Create the Vote Questionnaire

1. The Role of Arts, Culture, and Creativity

What role do arts, culture, and creativity play in your life, your family, your community? What impact does it have?

I am fortunate to belong to a large, extended family mostly residing on the South Shore. As such, I have been attending performances and programs featuring my cousins, aunts and uncles throughout my life. These activities -- ranging from dance to book launches to choral performances -- have demonstrated to me first hand the vital importance of the arts in our communities and within our culture. These events provide an opportunity for the participants to explore their talents and their passions and for the audiences to expand their understanding of the world around them. For all involved, participating in the arts provides an avenue for communities to come together in exploration, entertainment and education.


2. Addressing District-wide Issues

Just as any other part of the state, we face many economic and social issues here in the district.

What are your priority issues? What role can the creative community play in addressing these challenges?

There are many issues facing our district. My key priorities will be to ensure that we receive appropriate funding for education, including the arts, address water infrastructure challenges, ensure adequate and fair flood insurance policies, support opioid prevention and treatment, and ensure coastal resiliency protections. I am also concerned about preserving sustainable and practical fishing regulations and providing appropriate services for our veterans and seniors. The creative community can play an important role in telling the story of the impact of some of these challenges, highlighting the importance of addressing them and, as with all citizens, mobilizing the creative community to press for appropriate legislation and funding. I am committed to helping expand your voice on Beacon Hill.


There is a growing body of data and science that’s telling us that loneliness is more prevalent than we thought. Former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy even compared the mortality effect associated with loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What do you think the creative community can do to address social isolation?

Two of the most logical collaborations to address this growing problem is to link the creative community with both Senior Centers and youth outreach programs either through our Libraries or other after-school locations (such as the Boys and Girls Club). By using creative skills to produce programming which engages both seniors and isolated youth, much progress can be made to reduce loneliness. There have been many successful models developed already and grants and other funding from the State House should be made available to facilitate the expansion of these efforts.


3. Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Research has shown that arts education increases achievement across all academic disciplines, enhances student engagement, and fosters development of critical thinking and learning skills.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is currently redesigning school and district report cards to include measures for arts education participation. In addition, DESE is updating arts curriculum frameworks for the first time since 1999.

What will you do to increase access and participation in arts education for youth both in school and out of schools?

Ensuring appropriate funding for all educational goals is one of my key priorities. I will work to encourage the appropriate updating of arts curriculum and seek funding for these initiatives. In addition, I will work with Mass Creative and other groups to provide legislators with the data supporting these efforts and encourage the adoption of a revised curriculum.


4. The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

Public investment in the arts strengthens local economies, attracts additional investment, and ensures resources serve the public interest. With the passage of its FY2019 budget, the Legislature approved a $16 million state investment in the Mass Cultural Council. This is the Legislature’s first increase to state arts investment after three years of level funding the Mass Cultural Council at $14 million. In 1988, the Mass Cultural Council gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now.

At what level would you fund the Mass Cultural Council?

As with Library funding, the Cultural Council funding was slashed when state coffers were struggling. Library funding has been working its way back to it’s pre-recession funding and Mass Cultural Council should as well. The value of these grants to education, economic stimulation and community outreach impact all residents.


Created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2007, the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund has granted $110 million in matching grants to help restore the Commonwealth’s most treasured historical and cultural landmarks, and fund visionary capital projects that revitalize our communities. In a 2017 Mass Cultural Council survey, 169 organizations reported $114 million in essential capital projects through 2019. The Legislature recently reauthorized the Cultural Facilities Fund at $50 million for another five years, yet there’s interest to increase the Fund to $75 million, allowing the yearly allocations to increase from $10 million to $15 million and meet the increasing demands of projects.

At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?

As with all budgetary needs, the pace at which vital funding is provided will be determined first and foremost by the health of the State budget. As the Commonwealth is in robust financial condition, increasing this funding to facilitate appropriate projects makes sense. Our historical and cultural landmarks are the foundation of our appeal for tourism and economic expansion.


5. Space for artists and arts organizations (For Greater Boston Districts)

Active arts organizations and artists make neighborhoods safer, more welcoming, and improve overall quality of life. Yet, as Greater Boston’s development boom continues, the creative community is consistently being priced out of space to live, create, and present art.

From the eviction of artists at the Piano Factory in Boston’s South End and the EMF building in Cambridge, to the possibility of the Huntington Theatre losing its mainstage home on Huntington Avenue, Boston is in danger of losing the vibrancy and cultural diversity which make the area a desirable place for businesses to move and people to live.

How will you work to ensure artist live work spaces are included in development plans?

The most important incentive to private developers is financial self-interest. To encourage development which also enhances public goals such as affordable housing and artist live/work spaces, economic incentives must be crafted to support both private and public interests. I will work with the legislature to ensure that these types of measures are included in incentive tax proposals.


How will you encourage the development of affordable rehearsal, exhibition, and performance space for artists and cultural organizations?

Supporting funding of Cultural Council grants and other funding is a key mechanism for ensuring affordable space for cultural organizations. The criteria for grants should be expanded to allow for application of these funds for the purpose of subsidizing rehearsal and performance space.


6. Public Art

Public art helps build vibrant and connected neighborhoods and the arts community plays a vital role in the development of cities and towns. The rest of New England and 22 other states have a Public Art Program, which establishes that public art will be an integral piece of all new state construction. The Legislature is considering The Massachusetts Public Art Program, legislation that would invest approximately $2 million a year in the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties.

What will you do next session to help get the Massachusetts Public Art Program to the finish line?

I will work actively in support of providing this funding. Throughout the world, public art creates not only community access to arts, but can act as an important catalyst in economic and tourism development.


7. Art and Public Health

Expressive art therapy is a proven and effective treatment to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, help cope with traumatic experiences, decrease depression and anxiety, and aid addiction recovery.

How would you ensure veterans, young people in the juvenile justice system, the elderly, and those suffering from addiction are able to access art and creative therapies?

As with traditional education, it is important that funding for services for our veterans, senior and those in recovery mandates the best methods of treatment, including art therapy. It is our obligation to ensure that we provide all we can to aid these communities.

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