Cindy Friedman's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionairre

1. Your Personal Connection

What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of the community? 

In my personal life, I’ve always made time for the arts and humanities. I’m an avid gardener, which is, to me, a form of art and an outlet for artistic expression. I also love to read fiction, attend plays and concerts and explore local community art events. Additionally, as recently as 6 years ago,  I began taking jazz piano lessons. I’ve loved music my entire life and I wanted to learn how to create music on my own. After 6 years of playing the piano, I’ve found it to be enormously satisfying and stress relieving. I constantly find myself returning to the piano bench whenever I have the time.

2. Arts & Culture in Your District

What stories from the 4th Middlesex District communities are the most compelling to illustrate the impact of a local arts or cultural institution? 

  • So many stories from the 4th Middlesex communities provide a compelling illustration of the positive impact of local art and cultural institutions, including:

  • THE ARLINGTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS (ACA) AND ITS INCREDIBLE INVOLVEMENT IN THE COMMUNITY – Every year, ACA asks all 400+ 5th graders in Arlington public schools to think about what Arlington means to them and to create a work of art that expresses something meaningful to them about their hometown. In recent years, we began hanging all of this artwork in Senator Donnelly’s  State House office and inviting all of the 5th graders to join him for an annual State House tour to celebrate their accomplishments and learn more about state government. Hands-down, this was one of Senator Donnelly’s favorite days of the year because he enjoyed watching the children talk about their artwork and ask questions about the state legislature. As state Senator, I will gladly continue this tradition.

    • Arlington Porchfest is an amazing annual community music festival involving 100s of local musicians. My husband and I never miss it and we love seeing so many families and neighbors come together to celebrate music.

  • APA’s storefront stories project is currently exploring the community’s character and diversity through portraits of local small businesses. This is a great way to use art to celebrate diversity and local businesses.

  • MASSACHUSETTS CULTURAL COUNCIL (MCC) FUNDING FOR LOCAL PROJECTS IN ALL 5 DISTRICT COUNCILS – Included in this link ( is the FY17 MCC funding for all 5 arts and cultural councils in the 4th Middlesex district. As you’ll notice, these grants were used to fund various arts and cultural initiatives in Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington and Woburn.

3. Addressing District-wide Issues

How, specifically, would you integrate the arts, culture, and creative community to improve living conditions in areas you represent? Please include thoughts on ways to alleviate social problems (student stress, isolation, etc.) as well as best ways to partner with the creative sector to drive economic development in the district.

Arts, culture and creativity are an integral part of any healthy and vibrant community. In our district, the arts can and should be integrated into everyday community life. To help accomplish this as state Senator, I would do the following: advocate for more financial support for the arts and cultural community by asking that $16.5 million in funding for the MCC be included in the FY18 budget; build an advocacy coalition to more effectively encourage the Governor to include greater funding for the Cultural Facilities Fund in his annual capital budget; and develop partnerships with state and local government agencies (i.e., youth services) and non-profits in order to better use the full capacity of the arts sector to support vulnerable populations and address community needs.

4. Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Arts instruction is a critical part of education because it develops multiple intelligences and helps educate the “whole” child. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has pledged to update the Commonwealth’s arts education curriculum and has pledged to report on access and participation in arts education in schools and districts. How will you support arts education in the Commonwealth’s schools?  

  • As a former public school teacher and parent, I strongly agree that our education system should support initiatives aimed at educating the “whole” child, which must include programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. When my daughter was in second grade, the art department suffered a severe cut in the school budget in Arlington. I was working full time but I became part of group of parents that supplemented art education and activities in the classroom. To help ensure that art education is available for all students, as state Senator, I would:
  • Advocate for the inclusion of art education indicators in Massachusetts’ new education accountability system under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);
  • Promote and expand arts and cultural education opportunities for youth in our district by supporting greater funding for after-school and summer arts and humanities programs; and
  • Work with educators and policymakers to find new and innovative ways to build arts education and opportunities into daily public school curricula.

5. The Commonwealths Support and Role in the Creative Community

Last year, Massachusetts invested $14 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 almost twice that amount. At what level do you think the MCC should be funded and what would you do to get to that level of funding?

Simply put, the MCC should be funded as high as possible or at a level in which its annual output is reached. In other words, if I could, I would gladly allocate enough MCC funding on an annual basis to achieve all of the Council’s goals. While I was pleased to see the Senate appropriate $16.5 million to the MCC in its FY18 budget proposal, I strongly believe the Council should be funded at early-2000s or pre-2000 levels.

For FY14 and FY15, $15 million in matching grants through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund supported the maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of the Commonwealth’s cultural facilities. For FY17 and FY18, Governor Baker allocated $10 million to the Fund. At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?

Similar to my answer above, the Cultural Facilities Fund (given the benefit it provides to our communities and our creative economy) should be allocated enough funds to meet its annual goals. As state Senator, I will gladly and vocally lobby the Governor to include more funding for the Cultural Facilities Fund in the annual capital budget.

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

  • As state Senator, I will take the following steps to ensure more funding for the arts, cultural and creative community:
  • Fight for greater state funding for the MCC and Cultural Facilities Fund;
  • Sign onto Sen. Lesser’s legislation and advocate for the inclusion of the Massachusetts Public Art Program (MPAP) in the final FY18 state budget, which would set aside funds for the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties;
  • Support an amendment to the MassWorks statute that would make state-designated cultural districts eligible for MassWorks infrastructure grants; and
  • Establish partnerships with MassCreative, MCC Artists under the Dome, local cultural councils and arts organizations and others to collectively move an arts, culture and humanities agenda forward.

6. Creative Placemaking

Public art helps build vibrant connected neighborhoods and the arts community plays a vital role in the development of cities and towns. Twenty-eight (28) other states have a Percent for Art Program to fund public art in state construction projects. Filed in both the House and the Senate (H.2717 and S.1897), the Massachusetts Public Art Program (MPAP) would invest one percent of the new capital budget for state buildings (approximately $2 million a year) in the creation and preservation of public art on Commonwealth-owned properties. What will you do this session to help get the Massachusetts Public Art Program to the finish line?

As I mentioned in an earlier question, I would immediately sign onto the Senate legislation and push for its passage. This language was included in the Senate FY18 budget, so I would also advocate for it’s inclusion in the final budget.

In addition, I would explore other opportunities to support and promote innovative public-private partnerships like Futurecity\Massachusetts. Futurecity\Massachusetts is a joint initiative of the MCC and The Boston Foundation, and represents a new approach to placemaking that puts art, culture, and creativity at the center of urban redevelopment and revitalization.

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