Sean Garballey's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

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?

My father was an Art Professor for over 30 years. He was so proud of his profession and he made a positive impact on thousands of students. This allowed me to be exposed to the arts community at a very young age. This had a very profound impact on my life and I continue to be extremely supportive of the arts community and the importance the arts community has on our society. I continue to be very supportive of the Massachusetts Cultural Council as a member of the House of Representatives. I was also proud to serve on the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development during my time in the House of Representatives.    

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?

The communities of Arlington, Billerica, Woburn, Lexington and Burlington have been positively impacted by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The 4th Middlesex District has benefited by receiving over $35,000 in funding last fiscal year. As the State Representative for Arlington I have been able to work directly with the Arlington Cultural Council and the grant recipients to learn about the excellent work that is done by artists throughout the year. Grant recipients throughout the 4th Middlesex District are able to take a small portion of money from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and make a profound positive impact. I have witnessed the great work of the Lexington Symphony, the New England Museum Association, and Odaiko New England in Woburn. These are great examples of the positive impact the Massachusetts Cultural Council can have.  

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.

Most people who participate in cultural activities and in the arts, would be the first ones to claim that these activities have enhanced the quality of their lives. The arts can make a profound positive impact on an individual level but the arts can also make an incredibly positive impact on our society. One of the great roles that the arts can play is around building community. Art can be used to engage a community around benefiting a neighborhood or bringing people together around a specific social action.  Art can also have a massive benefit on economic development. As the State Representative in Arlington I have been proud to work with community members to use art to benefit our community. As your next State Senator, I look forward to playing an active role in advancing arts and culture in each of our communities.      

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?

In my role as State Representative I have been working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to update the Commonwealth’s arts education curriculum. I am looking forward to the recommendations from DESE on what the curriculum should include and how to implement it. I look forward to continuing to work with DESE on this issue but I also look forward to filing legislation on updating our arts education curriculum if DESE doesn’t update it through regulation. 

5. The Commonwealth’s 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?

I believe strongly that the legislature needs to increase funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee I recommended that the legislature fund the MCC at $25 million for Fiscal Year 2018. I have built coalitions in the House of Representatives and in the State Senate to build support for the Massachusetts Cultural Council and working to increase the appropriation for MCC. Funding for MCC is a form of local aid to cities and towns and the legislature needs to increase support.    

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?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs to invest in infrastructure improvements throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Due to the positive economic impact investing in infrastructure can have on our Commonwealth I have proposed that the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund should be increased to $20 million.

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 a member of the Ways and Means Committee I have strongly advocated for a dedicated revenue stream to support the Massachusetts Cultural Council and library funding in the Commonwealth. If elected to the State Senate I will work with the Massachusetts Cultural Council to file legislation to create a dedicated revenue steam for the arts, culture, and creative community. 

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?

I strongly support this legislation and have submitted testimony to my colleagues in support of its passage. I will continue to build alliances in the House of Representatives and in the State Senate to ensure that this legislation is passed. 

Thank you!

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