Juliette Kayyem's Response to the Create the Vote Questionnaire

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?

As Governor Patrick’s Homeland Security Advisor and President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at Homeland Security, I have spent my career managing risks and increasing resilience. Part of that resilience has always been finding ways to bring together communities that have suffered grave losses. Whether dealing with natural disasters, war, terrorism, or public health threats, I have found that the arts play a critical role in helping cities, veterans, and all those affected by trauma, reclaim their lives and move forward from tragedy. I am deeply grateful to artists and the work they do to bring our communities together through dark times.

Furthermore, as the daughter of Lebanese Christian Immigrants, I personally see the arts as a means through which the people of the Commonwealth express the diverse experiences and backgrounds that make Massachusetts such a vibrant and rich place to live. Arts and artists weave the fabric of our ever-changing culture and play a dynamic role in shaping the future of our communities. Art pushes us to examine ourselves and our society, providing critical insight into the ways we can better pursue our goal of a fair and thriving Commonwealth.

Finally, part of my career was spent in journalism, utilizing the written word as a means to communicate and advocate for progressive issues. My nomination as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for my series of columns urging the Pentagon to end its female combat exclusion rule is a clear demonstration of how arts and culture can push government and society forward. 


Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education. While many communities provide access to quality arts education, many of our youth are still being left out of the creative community. What will you do as Governor to 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 in making 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 to transform it to STEAM? 

Ensuring that students are introduced to the arts at a young age is imperative to a well-rounded education. I have seen the maturation that my own children have received through their participation in arts, from theater to music to painting, their education has been strengthened. Whether through music classes as part of the curriculum, or an art program offered as an after school activity, the arts need to be supported and provided to students. I would like to see this happen in two ways.

First, I would support and ensure that there are a multitude of options for students to experiment with the arts in the classroom by supporting arts themed schools such as the Boston Arts Academy. Supporting and working with schools (both K-12 and higher education) that bolster the study of art is necessary to make sure that students in the Commonwealth invest in both their education and career here in Massachusetts.

Secondly, I would make arts education opportunities in the classroom and outside the classroom more available to families and the community. By making programs more accessible to the community, we can reach out to students and help them tap into some of the best arts programs that Massachusetts has to offer. Unfortunately many families are unaware of the opportunities allotted to them in the community, so by ensuring that information on the arts and other important programs are available, we will better serve our children and the future of arts in Massachusetts. 

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