Dr. Tim Hempton's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

1. Your Personal Connection

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

As a child, my parents introduced me to the arts by taking me to NYC Broadway shows purchasing ½ price tickets at Duffy Square. Moreover, we attended local concerts at Westbury Gardens in Old Westbury, NY.  These experiences introduced me to storytelling through the arts as well as an appreciation for classical and contemporary music. While attending high school, I participated in the theatre club obtaining various roles in plays and musicals staged in the high school auditorium. The arts allowed me to overcome shyness and better understand how artistic expression express enriches our society.

2. Arts & Culture in Your District

Our district is home to a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please provide us with a story about the impact of a local arts or cultural institution in our district.

Arts help bring the community together by providing a venue to celebrate a performance and meet new neighbors. We have attended local art and cultural events such as summer concerts on the common and winter holiday festivities involving senior choral groups at the library community room.

3. Addressing District-wide Issues

Just as any other part of the state, we face many economic and social issues here in the district. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems? How would you use our community to drive economic development in the district?

The beauty of the arts is that it is open and accessible to all. Art transcends political affiliations and can bring the social fabric of the community together. Arts can be utilized to have persons in recovery stay connected to the community which studies have shown is beneficial to long term success in overcoming addiction.

Facilitating grants to local theatre can enhance economic growth. An expansion of local artistic events would likely result in surrounding restaurants see an increased flow of patrons before and after performances. This interaction would affect a positive increase in local economic activity.

4. Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Art instruction should be a critical part of education across all academic disciples as it develops the whole child. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has pledged to update the Commonwealth’s arts education curriculum as well as report on access and participation in arts education in schools in districts. How will you support arts education in the Commonwealth’s schools?

One of the platform issues of my campaign is to improve funding to local education. Chapter 70 (Foundation Budget) has not been updated since 1993.  School communities across the commonwealth have not been getting the funds promised under this law. Arts tend to bear the brunt of funding cuts when school are trying balance the school budget.  As the next Senator for Norfolk & Bristol, I will work to local school funding by updating the foundation budget assumptions to reflect the reality of cost of education.

5. The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

In Fiscal Year 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature invested $14 million in organizational support through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the creative community, ranking it eighth in the country in per capita spending. In 1988, the Massachusetts Cultural Council gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?

The entire state budget needs improved oversite. The budget for the Commonwealth has ballooned from $20 billion to $40 billion in 15 years yet Cities and Towns are have not seen an increase in local aid. Funding for the arts has also suffered.

There is considerable waste and inefficiencies in the state budget.  If spending controls are improved more funding would be available to support the arts.

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