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. 

Addressing the Commonwealth’s Socioeconomic Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues – job creation, public safety, education. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving the Commonwealth’s social and economic challenges? How would you use the creative community to drive economic development across the Commonwealth – from major metropolitan areas to the Gateway cities, rural towns, and suburbs? What are the metrics of success?

The arts can and should play an important role in tackling the Commonwealth’s socioeconomic issues, including having artists as members of boards and commissions.

First, as I work to attract employers and innovators to the state, I will highlight our talented, desirable workforce, but I will also keep in mind that our cultural offerings will play a role in employers’ decisions. The success of the arts here – from our world-class museums and performing arts organizations to our burgeoning film production industry – will have widely positive effects on the success of the Commonwealth as a whole.

Additionally, a key component of my plan for economic development is the reinvigoration of the Gateway Cities, where the loss of well-paying factory jobs, a lack of access to transit, and low graduation rates have traditionally prevented residents from enjoying new opportunities.

I support an integrated strategy that will incorporate the arts to leverage entrepreneurship and the unique voices and contributions of our Gateway City residents. Part of the growth and development of Gateway regions will be the acknowledgement and celebration of the diverse populations – including the artistic expression of their cultural backgrounds that make up these communities.

I will support continued growth of the Cultural Districts program in these cities, to promote arts, community and economic activity that reflect the cultural assets of each particular city. Furthermore, I will support the celebration of our Gateway Cities by factoring in the needs of our artist communities, inviting them to be a part of the discussion on how to best grow and develop these regions.

Finally, as a common thread that truly runs through every culture and generation, the arts are an incredible opportunity to open up a dialogue between disparate groups within the Commonwealth. The more we as human beings can communicate respectfully about our experiences and values, the better we can work together to achieve our common goals. 

The Administration’s Support and Role in the Creative Community 

The next administration has the opportunity, through inclusive leadership, to highlight and address policy needs and shortcomings in order to provide the best and most comprehensive support network for artists and the arts.

First and foremost, I will ensure that the arts community has a meaningful seat at the table to educate lawmakers and advocate for the specific and varied issues that face their fellow artists. These issues, including healthcare, labor laws, intellectual property rights, and artist housing, can only be addressed once leaders fully understand the unique challenges facing the arts community.

Additionally, the next administration can do more to help artists develop professionally. As the primary labor force behind the arts and culture sector, these artists deserve technical assistance from the government, including help navigating changing regulations, and negotiating contracts.

Furthermore, artists’ voices in government should not be limited to arts-related roles. Arts and culture policy should be incorporated into multiple platforms, including economic growth and criminal justice reform. Artists should therefore be appointed to advisory boards and working groups across various sectors, to ensure that the citizens of Massachusetts receive the positive benefits of the cultural community.

I believe the next Governor should focus on the role that arts and culture will play in the future of the Commonwealth. The next administration should also do more to make sure that arts are fully visible, and that they are celebrated and valued by our citizens. The government should promote artists and the arts so that everyone in the Commonwealth appreciates the role that the arts play, not only in driving our economy, but in enriching our daily lives. 


The Creative Economy
Innovation is one of the major drivers of Massachusetts’ economy. As Governor, how would you work with creative entrepreneurs and broaden your administration's commitment to the creative economy as part of an economic development strategy? How will you foster an ecosystem which is reflective of the up and coming independent creative community across the Commonwealth?

The arts include many different economic opportunities, from graphic designers in small businesses to the performing arts— there is economic success to be found in every corner of the industry.

The first piece to this approach begins with finding creative ways to promote economic opportunities in the arts world, instilling incentives for men and women to invest their careers in the arts. This can be done in a number of ways, for example, providing partnerships within the community, and through high schools and higher education institutions.

Promoting economic opportunities in the work force is the first step, so to add to that proposal, I will next work to generate a strong public-private investment in the local arts. I will coordinate with business, government, and other sectors to share one plan that we can use to work together, which will enable the arts community to stimulate its production and find the capital investment we know it can generate. We want to create incentive for people to invest in the arts, so they see it as a business investment. 


A World Class Arts Destination

While Massachusetts is known for its hospitals, professional sports, and universities, the Commonwealth has yet to fully leverage the strength of our arts, culture, and creative community as a means for tourism and branding. How would you utilize your administration to market the Commonwealth as a world-class cultural destination?

Massachusetts is already home to some of the most famous and celebrated artistic institutions in the world, but our leaders must do more to promote and feature the work that is being done here in the Commonwealth.

As Governor, I will focus on assisting and promoting artists of all disciplines who make their home in the Commonwealth. Through existing programs such as the Creative Economy Council, I will coordinate between agencies such as the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment. Further, we must involve the arts in all our world outreach, including in the bid for the Olympics.

Massachusetts can do more to brand itself as a leader and innovator in the arts, attracting visitors from around the country and around the world. We have unique assets here, such as the United States’ only state-funded art and design school, that already give us a competitive edge.

Massachusetts should be known as an arts and culture destination. Fortunately, we have incredible talent here to substantiate such a brand; the state government, however, must take responsibility for promoting that brand worldwide. 


Your Priorities

The start of a Governor’s tenure often sets the Administration’s tone and priorities. Which actions do you see as the most critical to initiate in the area of arts and culture within the first 100 days of your administration?

My first arts priority upon taking office would be opening the door for myself and other state leaders to be educated on the issues facing artists in the Commonwealth. I know that we lack enough artist housing; I know that artists and others with non-traditional incomes are struggling with shifting healthcare laws; I know that most artists spend a significant portion of their incomes to create art. But in order to address these and other pressing issues from an executive standpoint, I will bring leaders from the arts community together to speak to their specific experiences and those of their fellow artists.

By giving the arts community a meaningful place at the table, I will initiate an inter-agency dialogue on how to best serve those who make Massachusetts such an important cultural destination. 


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