left-bracket.png  Election Day draws near, candidates talk arts & culture  right-bracket.png

In four weeks, Massachusetts voters will choose the members of the Legislature for the next two years and our next governor for the next four. As voters, we have an opportunity to elect state representatives, state senators, and a governor who will bolster arts, culture, and creativity in the Commonwealth.

Last month, MASSCreative sent out the Create the Vote Questionnaire to candidates running for State House and Senate seats on November 4th. The response has been encouraging. Many candidates from across the Commonwealth recognize the role arts and culture play in their districts.

Check out the responses to get an idea of where your candidate stands on the issues. Here's what came in this week:


Michelle DuBois (D), Candidate for State House, 10th Plymouth

In Brockton, the Fuller Craft Museum operates as an important venue for contemporary crafts in New England. Their role in the local community is vitally important because they also run art classes for kids and residents, frequently invite local artists to show their work, and host thoughtful discussions and musical events.


Dylan Hayre (D), Candidate for State Senate, Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex

With a number of studios and artists spanning the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex district, there are numerous examples of artists offering free classes as after-school programs. Some artists contribute their art, often student-made, to local festivals and use the proceeds to fund workshops and programs. Also, I’ve seen some beautiful examples of how artwork is used to promote other aspects of a community. For example, I visited a small exhibition in Attleboro that featured a number of homemade displays, each advertising a service or event within the city. The involvement of local artists in the greater economic development of the region was one important example of how we can, and should collaborate with the creative forces within a community as a way to strengthen our community.


Paul Heroux (D), Candidate for State House, 2nd Bristol

Attleboro is a community that is increasingly growing its involvement in the arts. We have several art museums. Attleboro is also a very ethnically diverse community where there are several art festivals and performing art exhibitions that members of our community can attend. This is considered one of the highlights of our community. I have showed my support by attending these events.


Joseph McKenna (R), Candidate for State House, 18th Worcester

The Gateway Players is a local community based theater that is a perfect example of making performance art available and accessible to local communities at a great price that allows many in the community to come and enjoy. I for one have attended numerous plays put on by the Gateways Players throughout my life in central MA.  Additionally, Webster, Oxford, and several other local communities enjoy summer park concert series that I have been fortunate to enjoy.  These, again, are excellent opportunities to come out on a summer evening and enjoy entertainment in the community at no cost.


Kathleen O'Connor Ives (D), Candidate for State Senate, 1st Essex

Art is often an underutilized tool that can effectively help encourage resolutions for some practical problems the state faces. For instance, organizations in cities across the state are using creative, community-­‐‑based projects to help deter youth gang involvement and increase public safety. Cultural Facilities grant funds have the opportunity to provide construction work or jobs within the creative industry for the long term unemployed. One organization in my district that works with individuals with developmental and physical disabilities recently enhanced their programming with an art-­‐‑based therapy program aimed at increasing participants’ communication skills. Programs like these, working in participation with more traditional problem-­‐‑solving techniques, enable organizations to utilize creative alternatives to approaching long-­‐‑standing issues in the state.


Gene Rauhala (D), Candidate for State House, 1st Middlesex

Music, art and culture is alive and well throughout the district.  In addition to the summer band concerts, the communities in the First Middlesex District support art and music in their public schools by promoting art and performing arts programs in their schools.  A wide variety of Broadway show, choral and instrumental performances and art shows are offered by schools throughout the district.  Throughout the year, there are a number of indoor and outdoor performances by dancers, musical ensembles, theater groups, gymnasts, and the like, in community sponsored events in auditoriums, churches, schools, outdoor venues, and on commons throughout the district.


John Rogers (D), Candidate for State House, 12th Norfolk

The Norwood Theater is where I saw my first movie:  Ian Fleming’s The Man with the Golden Gun where I was entranced by 007.  In my 20’s and 30’s, the old movie house transformed like a butterfly into a playhouse known as the Fiddlehead Theatre, a wonderful venue for plays and musicals.  With the coming of the new century, the old theatre needed a facelift in order to compete with other venues, and to Norwood’s dismay, the doors closed for years, leaving many of us feeling like something inside of us closed, too. Until one day, a philanthropist, whose children sang and performed there years before, decided to buy the old theater, invest in it, and restore it to its 1927 majesty.  Senator Mike Rush and I sponsored a law to help the theater compete with those other venues and today Norwood Theater is the pride of the community.  Each week, crowds of up to 800 people flock into the beautiful theater to hear live bands, see movies and documentaries, find laughter through comedies and comics, and entertain young ones with family shows.  The area businesses, especially nearby restaurants, are putting more citizens to work because of the foot traffic and local income the theater generates.


Jeffrey Roy (D), Candidate for State House, 10th Norfolk

I am currently working with the Franklin Performing Arts Center which opened its Black Box Theater in downtown Franklin on September 20, 2014. I am confident that this theater will have a transformative impact on Franklin’s downtown and will help the community continue along the path as a vibrant community that supports the arts. Moreover, it will breathe new life into the downtown area and be an economic boost for the restaurants and other venues in that area.


 Ellen Story (D), Candidate for State House, 3rd Hampshire

I am a big supporter of the Mass Cultural Council and the MCC has funded a number of projects in my district.  My district is filled with artists of every kind.  A few years ago I participated in an exhibit to light up an old tobacco barn at dusk.  It was lovely, community building and calming.


Tim Toomey (D), Candidate for State House, 26th Middlesex

While Cambridge and Somerville are important centers of arts and culture within greater Boston, both communities are quickly becoming more difficult for small arts organizations to locate themselves in due to rising rents and property values. I have proposed utilizing a portion of Cambridge's recently-acquired Foundry Building to provide space for the arts, which will help maintain community access to the arts and provide organizations with affordable space for their programming.

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