Ari Herzog 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?

My introduction to the arts – as a creator – was in seventh grade when I auditioned for the school musical and was cast as a gambler in “Guys and Dolls.” That experience led me to act in every spring musical through my senior year of high school. In college, the bug continued and I played Albert Einstein in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and acted in other college plays. Over the past 15 years since college, I continued to act sporadically in community theater productions, most recently here in Newburyport in 2010 in “The Laramie Project.”

Acting has always been close to me. It is empowering to witness memorized lines and choreographed staging make a difference in people's 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.

I live a block from the Newburyport Public Library. I frequently borrow books and peruse their newspaper and magazine collections. I also bring my computer and do work, observing other members of the community thumbing through DVD and new book titles. There is no greater cultural institution (for me) than a library and I know I speak for many who also enjoy their libraries for reading, meeting, and learning. 


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?

It was only a few years ago when the federal government reduced funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and tried eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I strongly oppose these governmental efforts. Arts education is imperative in our schools; my high school education included elective courses in photography, guitar, and chorus. I hope today's and tomorrow's students can participate in similar instruction and creative learning. I do support the transition from STEM to STEAM; in fact, that is a bullet on my campaign website. 


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?

Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury are among north shore communities contributing to 73% of creative economy enterprises; and nearly 20,000 people are employed in a 30-mile radius by creative economy industries including advertising, architecture, consulting, and engineering. I've attended many workshops through the Creative Economy Association of the North Shore in residence at Salem State University; and I've built many fruitful business relationships.

If elected, I will work hard to boost creative economy funding in the north shore and statewide, showcasing the success of entities such as CEANS. 


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?

I believe municipal cultural councils can play a significant role in these challenges if the legislature allocates increased grant opportunities.

I also believe we (at either the state or local levels of government) should empower roundtables of individuals who don't typically meet. For instance, imagine the creative brainstorming from graphic designers, open software coders, social workers, firefighters, and school committee members – if they were tasked with a goal and asked to draw upon their collective experiences. If that's not a creative use of the community, what is?

Also, I wonder the viability of amending the Community Preservation Act to include a cultural or creative element. Shouldn't preservation of arts be as important as preservation of history? 


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?

    I don't have enough information to know the best funding levels – but I do agree fiscal 2016 funding for the MCC should be higher than in 1988. I also support maintaining cultural facilities. Questions should be asked, though, whether certain facilities are best managed by the state or by localities. If elected this fall, I am eager to meet with stakeholder organizations to ascertain the best sources and levels of funding and how we can get there without taxpayer burden.

    As for a dedicated revenue stream for the creative community in the Commonwealth, I think this is a smart idea and viable. Let's convene a conference for the creative economy, also inviting venture capital firms and philanthropic foundations.

    The people of the First Essex District (and across the Commonwealth) will quickly learn the creative right side of my brain is dominant and I have many ideas to challenge the status quo – such as bringing disparate groups together to achieve consensus.

    You can learn more about my campaign at 

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