Paul Franco Response

Your Personal Connection

We've all had defining moments in our lives. What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity had an impact on your life and your view of the community?

Though there have been several, I think it has to be the first time I heard my daughter, Teresa, perform (a song she wrote the lyrics and music for).  I remember vividly how it brought tears to my eyes and how in awe my wife and I were, not only at the beauty of the song, but that our daughter was such a gifted writer, singer, and performer. 


Arts and Culture in Your District

Art and culture plays a role in the Commonwealth from Boston and the Gateway Cities and our rural and suburban towns.  Please provide us with a story of the impact a local arts or cultural institution brings to your district.

In Worcester our major arts groups like Worcester Center for Crafts and the Art Museum participates in a number of community outreach programs that enrich students of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. This involvement makes it possible to have high achievement with increased access to culture. All of this makes the district a pleasant place with a rich background of artistic talents.


Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education. While many communities have access to quality arts education, many youth are still being left out of the creative community. How will you champion arts education for our youth both in our schools and in our communities? How will you balance the importance of arts education with the constant pull to “teach to the test”? Would you support joining ten other states to make one year of arts education in high school a requirement for admission to the state university system? Do you support adding ‘arts’ into the Commonwealth’s STEM program to transform it to STEAM?

We do not see a conflict between testing and the arts, as studies show that creative background increase students’ ability to think and reason – which would increase student aptitude and as a result test scores. We also believe that test scores are not an end all be all for student achievement, and to focus so heavily would be a detriment to students. We would advocate that the year requirement be added only if the access and funding at the high school level would provide the availability for students to get them.  We do agree with the introduction of STEAM, but are cautious about implementation.


Economic Development

Nonprofit art and cultural organizations support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. How will the legislature foster an ecosystem which supports the creative community and industry across the Commonwealth?

Central to our platform is the notion of “upward mobility,” which can be achieved by building an economic and regulatory environment that nurtures all types of job creators and encourages growth. Through intrastate crowdfunding and improved tax legislation, government could foster an environment that would support new ventures- technical or creative in nature- and would provide the capital necessary to get start ups off the ground. 


Addressing the Commonwealth’s Socioeconomic Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues, among them workforce development, public safety, and health care. Can you provide examples on how you would utilize the arts, cultural, and creative community to address the Commonwealth’s social and economic challenges?

To face burgeoning growth of juvenile delinquency and other social issues we believe the arts and cultural community can be the difference. By giving our at-risk youth opportunities to explore their own creative potential, they can benefit from the scaffolding and support that many do not receive at their homes.  Just like other ventures, our arts, cultural, and creative community create jobs and contribute to the economy on both a micro and macro scale. I will help build an ecosystem that is advantageous to businesses and creative communities of all kinds.


The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

Last year, Massachusetts invested $12 million in organizational support through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the creative community, ranking it ninth in the country. In 1988, the MCC gave out more than $27 million in grants, more than twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?

To fund MCC would require that we go through the paces on the cost effectiveness of money allocated to the Cultural Council. If funding would be ineffective, then we cannot justify the increased allocation of tax payer dollars. That being said, we believe in the positive effects of arts and other cultural activities-both social and economic- and would justify an increase in funding from Governor Patrick’s $12 million if a thorough cost-benefit analysis on where and to what the funds were going proved to be positive (both socially and economically).

For the past two years, Governor Patrick allocated $15 million in matching grants through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to support the maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of the Commonwealth’s cultural facilities. At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?

We advocate that grants are increased over traditional funding, as it ensures that people’s tax dollars are spent effectively as well as providing acute funding to reputable causes. It increases funding, while also being more cost effective.

Would you develop or dedicate a revenue stream to provide a sustainable and stable funding stream for the arts, cultural, and creative community?

We would advocate for the creation of a revenue stream if it did not impede economic development in the Commonwealth.

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