Maria Giesta's Response to Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Your Personal Connection

What is your personal connection to the arts community in New Bedford? Do you have a favorite local artist? Is there a particular arts event you enjoy attending on a regular basis?

  • MG: I’m both a lover and supporter of the arts. I was lucky to grow up in a family that loved music and poetry. As a matter of fact my Dad was a musical poet. He was part of a musical tradition that is common in Portugal where you make up the words and music as you go along. It’s called Desafio. It’s what we call “Portuguese Rap” in my house. I also grew up going to many Portuguese American clubs where we would listen to the Fado, and dance traditional Portuguese dances, and sing Portuguese songs.
  • One of my favorite local artists is Arthur Moniz, and of course everybody fell in love with Samantha Johnson. What a great musical artist and her love for New Bedford clearly showed whenever she sang and talked lovingly about New Bedford.
  • I love AHA! night. I truly believe we should expand it throughout the city, not just downtown. I am also a strong supporter of NEA funding.

Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Art instruction increases achievement across all academic disciples and develops the whole child. What will you do as Mayor to champion arts education with 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”?

  • MG: I would explore partnering with NBOS on after-school activities. I will be a strong and vocal advocate of the arts in both our schools and community. I was very lucky to be part of a generation that included the arts in school: Music, painting, dance, acting, etc. Children must be able to express themselves and a strong arts community can help them believe that they are smart and creative. It’s not just about taking a test. It’s about individuality, something we lack in schools.

Economic Development

New Bedford’s reputation as an arts destination has been climbing for several years. This year, it’s continued that trend by landing on even more “Top Ten” creative cities in the nation lists. It has enhanced its reputation as home to a large community of artists and artisans. How would you utilize this community to help make New Bedford a place where people want to live, work, play, and visit.

  • MG: Having a vibrant arts community only enhances the city as a whole. I would continue on the work already done to attract more artists to New Bedford, working with HUD to identify grants for studios and partner with New Bedford to host events to showcase our artists and the communities they serve.

The broad creative community in the city includes graphic designers, videographers, web developers, photographers and others as well as fine artists. Collectively, the community possesses unique skills which could be employed in both the public and private sector. What role do you envision the Mayor of New Bedford having in facilitating meaningful connections between the arts and business communities?

  • MG: I would treat the arts community as any other business entity. I am on record saying that we do not do enough to market New Bedford to the country and the world. I believe the art community plays a critical role in that selling point. I would link the business community with the art community by showcasing the statistics that clearly show a city with a vibrant art community tends to be more accepting of cultures and the business community likes that quality in a city.

Addressing New Bedford’s Socioeconomic Issues

Just as any other city, New Bedford faces many economic and social issues, among them workforce development, public safety, and health care. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social and economic challenges?

  • MG: A key component to my campaign is to aggresively fight for more federal and state funding. We must do this. Part of my plan is to work with the art community and assist them with applying for NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grants. As I previously stated, the art community plays a key role in attracting businesses, after-school programs and the overall health of residents. With more funding to assist our artists. I believe we can build on this and as Mayor, I will fight for these important funds.

New Bedford’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to exempt original and limited edition works of art from state sales tax in 2013. As Mayor of New Bedford, would you seek to petition the legislature to do the same in the city and/or help push for a similar statewide exemption in Massachusetts?

  • MG: Yes

Many municipalities have adopted a “1% for the Arts” program – setting aside that amount of construction costs of public projects for artwork. Are you in favor of adopting this principle in New Bedford?

  • MG: Yes, it sounds like an interesting idea and something we should consider.


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