Harriette Chandler 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?

From an early age I was fortunate enough to participate in art and dance programs, allowing me to explore my creativity and build my self-confidence. As a former teacher I saw the spark in my students’ eyes when they engaged with the arts and how these creative programs enhanced their academic success. These experiences enhanced my understanding of the impact our cultural institutions can have on our community and the way the arts act as an avenue to positively transform lives.  

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.

The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts is just one example of the many cultural institutions in my district that collaborates with the public schools allowing students from all over to attend performances that they may have not been able to attend had it not been for this partnership. The Boston Symphony Orchestra has done wonders for the Worcester Public Schools and the Wachusett Regional School District by working with students in the classroom and also partnering to enable students from Central MA to view performances in Boston. The Worcester Cultural Council partnered with municipal government, higher education institutions, and the business community to launch the Worcester Wayfinding Project. This effort uses the arts to help guide visitors and highlight the City’s cultural history. This is the perfect example of how the arts can be used to support economic development and I am proud to have championed funding for this project in the legislature. 

 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?

Championing the arts means not only advocating for funding for the respective community initiatives and school programs but also by creating opportunities for partnership. For example I worked with the Worcester Art Museum to open the entrance of the museum, use the facility as a voting place, and also to enable handicap access. I do not see an either/or choice when it comes to arts education. We need to move away from the ‘teach to the test’ mentality and make sure we are incorporating arts education into a wide variety of curriculums to accommodate all learning styles. I do not support a year of arts education requirement to enter a State University because at this time we do not provide arts education to all of our students. Adding an additional standard would put many of our students looking to enroll in our public colleges at an unfair disadvantage. I would support a movement from STEM to STEAM if we found an appropriate balance. I would also consider a separate arts tract to accommodate those students who have stronger creative strengths but do no necessarily have the desire or skills to follow a traditional STEM tract.

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?

The legislature has to recognize that the arts community is an important part of our economic development strategy and should not be forgotten. This means taking a holistic approach and when looking at our strategies for community development and higher education by including as many voices at the table. An ecosystem is defined by balance and the legislature can foster this by serving as a conduit for partnerships & creating additional opportunities for public-private collaborations.

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?

This is about using the arts to create opportunities and allowing creativity to permeate through many of our successful social programs. For example after-school programs using the arts help to address socioeconomic disparities among our youth and I would continue to advocate for continued efforts in our communities. Affordable housing and artist housing is another opportunity to address both economic development and specific needs of the creative community. The Worcester Wayfinding Project is more than a signage system as it seeks to increase tourism to Central MA. This will in turn spur economic growth, job creation, and increased local aid.

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

Ideally the MCC should be funded at a minimum of $27 million, and theoretically the decrease in funding would not have occurred had it not been for the economic recession. The MA Cultural Facilities Fund has made critical improvements such as boilers, air conditioning, etc. to institutions in Central MA and should be funded at the same amount. I would be open to discussion about a specific revenue stream but right now it is too pre-mature to commit to anything without specific details on the needs that should be met, how the program would be administrated, and how it will impact other programs receiving state funding. 

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