Katie McBrine'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 love the arts and always have. I believe that arts education goes a long way to making people more empathetic and able to see things from others’ points of view. I also believe that studying art, including learning techniques for performing or visual arts, provides unique opportunities for learning patience and problem-solving that are applicable across all disciplines. That is, I think I am a better doctor and a better scientist because I studied piano and sculpture as a child.


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?

My priority issues are healthcare, education, the environment, and transportation. I expect the creative community will play a strong role in all of these areas. Education without arts isn’t education. I won’t stand for an educational system which cuts the arts or physical education in order to have more time practicing for standardized tests. In healthcare, the environment, and in transportation, we will need the input of artists as much as we will need the input of those with science and engineering backgrounds. From basics, like the needs of the artistic community, as well as higher level input, we’ll need them to weigh in with innovative ideas on how best to present developments, regulations, and policy changes to the public.


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?

As a pediatrician, I worry about social isolation a lot. I am encouraged by programs which incorporate science and arts learning in projects which bring kids of different talents together to work toward a common goal. I believe that our society has moved toward siloing kids unnecessarily at a young age, leading them to focus on a single discipline rather than embracing a comprehensive education that includes the arts and academics. Why should kids have to choose just one? We’re all better if we have developed skills in a several disciplines, and when we work on teams with members of varied skills sets.

Adult isolation is harder, but the arts offers promise for addressing it. Hosting art shows, putting on plays, and holding concerts or performances all cost a lot of money. Without significant public support, these mainstays of community life where people meet and neighbors find common ground begin to fall away, but bringing people together physically is as important now as it ever was, and participation in the arts is the most natural and most attractive means of getting people out of their homes.

I think preventing isolation has to start with a state/local partnership in revitalizing and building community spaces for artists to use in attracting locals to events where they can learn new skills and make new friends. We are lucky in MA to have lots of schools, libraries, and town halls which might be used for this purpose. State programs which incentivize artists to lead community events in these places could go a long way toward addressing this problem.


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?

I teach a science program for kids on Saturdays at libraries in my district. It’s important to me to include an artistic/building component so that kids can see science at work through the action of their own hands. I believe that increasing these sorts of programs across the state might inspire more kids to join arts programs at their schools. Also, as a pediatrician, I know that studying the arts helps kids do better in other disciplines. By educating the public about these findings, I believe I can incentivize parents to encourage their kids to study the arts.


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. For the past three years, the Legislature has level funded the Mass Cultural Council, investing $14 million in organizational support for the creative community. 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?

1988’s $27MM is not 2018’s $27MM. I would support increasing arts funding to a level which insures funding for public arts programs across the Commonwealth, accessible to and affordable for everyone.


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. As the Cultural Facilities Fund comes up for reauthorization in 2019, there’s interest to increase the Fund to $75 million for five years, 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?

I believe restoring historical and cultural landmarks has tremendous value for a community, and I would happily vote to increase allocations according to the needs of projects across the Commonwealth.


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

Affordable housing is a tremendous problem across this state, as is affordable space for so many good programs. Real estate is at an all time premium in the most densely populated areas, and without strong, affordable, accessible, and reliable public transportation, hope that folks will move further out to find space to meet their needs is a pipe dream. I believe the first thing we have to tackle is public transportation, to allow people to easily reach places which offer larger, lower-cost spaces. We must also ensure that new and redeveloping areas are developed with environmental needs and liveability in mind.


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 support the Public Art Program legislation. We’re behind many other states and localities in not setting aside money from new construction to fund the arts. I would argue with dissenters using research and facts to illustrate the great public good which comes from having public art, and I believe I can be convincing.


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?

I support developing a single-payer healthcare plan in Massachusetts which reintegrates mental with physical healthcare. As such, I would like to see art and creative therapies covered as part of that system.




Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...