Paul Brodeur's Response to the Candidate Questionnaire


The Role of Arts, Culture, and Creativity in Melrose

(1) What role do the arts, culture, and creativity play in your life? 

Arts, culture and creativity play a large role in my family’s life.  We’re lucky to live in a community with such rich cultural offerings.  My family and I are enthusiastic financial supporters of the Melrose Symphony Orchestra, Polymnia Choral Society, Follow Your Art, and Friends of Melrose Drama. Our son Ethan plays viola in the MHS Orchestra, and our son Sam has been taking classes at Follow Your Art for several years. We are MSO subscribers, and we also frequently attend the Melrose Art Show, Melrose Porchfest, and performances by Blue of a Kind and the MAAV at Temple Beth Shalom. I believe strongly that arts and culture are a vital way to build community and promote civic (and civil) discussion in these challenging times.

A Vibrant Healthy Economy

Arts and culture are an important piece of a vibrant, healthy economy. Events and cultural attractions bring residents downtown and support the local economy.

(2) How will you include the arts in your economic development plan?

The arts play a vital role not just in our state economy, but also in Melrose.  Our restaurants, stores and other businesses benefit from the audiences who attend local concerts and arts events. The Massachusetts Cultural Council reports the arts have a $2.3 billion impact on our state economy and that our cultural nonprofits support 73 full-time equivalent jobs in Massachusetts. I believe that Melrose’s creative offerings can play an even larger role in growing our economy. We should strengthen the partnership between our chamber of commerce and our arts & culture community and actively brand Melrose as an arts and culture destination.  The city can help by pursuing a local cultural district designation, adding wayfinding signs that highlight our assets, and more aggressively publicizing events in single source. There are also additional opportunities for cross-promotions between arts and cultural organizations and our restaurants.

A Cultural Destination

Melrose hosts hundreds of performances and events each year, attracting audiences from Melrose and beyond city limits. Many of these events take place in municipal buildings including Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, Beebe Estate, and MVMS Auditorium .

(3) What initiatives will you take to ensure these public spaces are a priority for public investment without placing undue financial burden on organizations that use these spaces for public presentation?

Regarding investment in our public spaces, I have delivered state funding for improvement at Memorial Hall, The prime venue for performances and art shows, the Melrose Center for the Performing Arts (MVMMS), and the Beebe Estate. I will ensure that all these assets are including in the city’s capital improvement plan, though it is challenging – particularly in the case of Memorial Hall – to meet the considerable need solely through municipal resources. We need to strengthen the ability of our Friends groups to raise money, and we need to make sure our leading cultural institutions have a seat at the table when creating policies and fee structures for those facilities.

(4) What is your vision for Melrose as an arts and cultural destination? Would you pursue a cultural district designation, build opportunities for public art, enact policies to grow and strengthen the cultural community?  

My plan specifically recognizes the value of branding Melrose  as a regional arts and culture destination and pursuing a local cultural district destination. In addition to recognizing the inherent value to residents of having a thriving diverse cultural community, this branding and designation will draw more people to the city, increase foot traffic in our business districts, and generate economic growth. Creative artistic use of public spaces (from public murals to outdoor performance spaces and beyond) can only enhance that reputation.

Arts Education and Youth Programs

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

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

The Melrose Public Schools have made great progress in providing access to arts education, and the arrival and growth of Follow Your Art has creative additional opportunities for all to explore the arts. The Orchestra, Marching Band and drama programs have been a source of pride for the community.  Also, Polymnia choral society’s annual spotlight on high school talent showcases some of our exceptionally talented singers. We need to make sure that we properly fund our arts department in the school budget and make additional efforts to ensure that cost is not an obstacle to our students having access to arts and cultural experiences. This can occur through low income discounts, encouraging students to offer volunteer service in exchange for admission to events, and collaborating with the schools and our creative community to find other solutions that work for them.

Municipal Support of the Creative Community

Public investment in the arts strengthens the economy, attracts new investments, and ensures resources serve the public interest.

(6) What revenue sources will you create or use to increase the city’s financial investment in the creative community?

In what is still a very challenging fiscal environment for our city, it will be difficult to make all the investments we would like to see in our creative community.  There is one opportunity that we must take advantage of: state funds for bringing our library fully into the 21st century. A stop priority for me will be using the city’s bonding capacity to move forward with the renovation of the library. This important project will enhance the library’s ability to serve the increasingly diverse needs of patrons and will greatly improve accessibility of the building.  Given that the state will provide an almost 50%matching grant to fund this project, we cannot miss this opportunity to upgrade one of our most important public resources. I will also continue to seek state funding for building maintenance and upgrades.

(7) How will you modify or expand the city’s current administrative structure to support the creative community?

In terms of administrative structure, it is imperative that our creative community has a single point of contact within City Hall to address concerns and share ideas. I am happy to  There are great benefits to working together to explore the many opportunities to support the community – be it zoning and regulatory changes, pursuit of grant opportunities, coordinating promotion and communications of city events and the like.

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