mc_cms_blueSq.jpg Local impact: Candidates talk arts & culture mc_cms_blueSq.jpg


With just one month until Election Day, candidates’ campaigns are ramping up statewide. The candidates for governor and for the Massachusetts House and Senate seats are out in the field talking to constituents about their priorities and vision for the Commonwealth. The opportunity couldn’t be better to elevate arts and culture in the discussion.

This past month, MASSCreative sent an arts and cultural questionnaire to more than 200 legislative candidates and we are receiving insightful responses. The questionnaire answers illustrate the candidates’ strong connections to the arts both in their districts and in their personal experience. It’s impressive, but not surprising to hear about the role arts and culture play in cities, towns, and neighborhoods all across the Commonwealth.

We look forward to continuing the conversation between the Gubernatorial candidates and House and Senate candidates and their constituents through scheduled sit-down meetings in the community. Check out their thoughts on arts and culture and how this integrates into their campaigns. 

Christine Barber (D), Candidate for State House, 34th Middlesex

Our Commonwealth’s creative economy is a linchpin of the state. For the Somerville and Medford communities, arts are an absolutely vital component of our lives, and well as major force in our economy. Policy to support arts and culture should not be siloed, but rather integrated throughout the policy process.

Yet state investment in this area is down 60% over the past 25 years. As a Representative, I would join the State House Cultural Caucus so I can work in coalition with other representatives on these issues.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council has been hobbled by inadequate budget allocations for years. I support increasing the state’s investment in the MCC.


Brendan Crighton (D), Candidate for State House, 11th Essex

Arts and culture have played a major role in the revitalization of Downtown Lynn, which I’ve represented both as Ward 5 City Councilor and Councilor-At-Large. I have been very involved in promoting the arts including the creation of a youth public mural project and the recent passage of a public arts ordinance. In addition to encouraging civic participation and bringing pride to our community, the arts have also had the ability to stimulate the local economy. Numerous businesses have cited the success of Lynn Auditorium’s concerts and live shows as the reason for their interest in locating their business Downtown. I also served on the board of Arts After Hours which has made a major impact in recent years through various theater productions and community events.


Paul Franco (R), Candidate for State Senate, 1st Worcester

In Worcester our major arts groups like Worcester Center for Crafts and the Art Museum participates in a number of community outreach programs that enrich students of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. This involvement makes it possible to have high achievement with increased access to culture. All of this makes the district a pleasant place with a rich background of artistic talents.


Ari Herzog (D), Candidate for State House, 1st Essex:

AmesburyNewburyport, 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


Stephen Kulik (D), Candidate for State House, 1st Franklin

I am privileged to represent the First Franklin District, comprised of 19 small and rural communities in western Massachusetts which are rich in arts and cultural offerings.  I represent one MCC designated Cultural District in Shelburne Falls, and I strongly supported its successful application.  The designation helps to spotlight the wide variety of cultural and arts activities by artists and institutions of all kinds.  The designation draws visitors to the region, where the combination of the arts and the natural beauty of the area combine to spur significant economic activity and jobs in the arts.  Although it is not (yet) designated as a Cultural District, similar great things are happening in the Town of Montague where Turners Falls River Culture is supported with funding from MCC’s Adams Grant program.  This is a wise investment of state funds, which leverages significant local matches and generates economic and creative activity which would not happen without this support.  I have also met a number of artists in various disciplines who have received MCC Artists Fellowships to enhance their work and the public appreciation of it.


Jason Lewis (D), Candidate for State Senate, 5th Middlesex

Arts and cultural institutions bring vibrancy to our communities.  In my communities, I have seen efforts to paint electric and utility boxes, which both beautifies our cities and towns as well as offer opportunities for local artists and community groups to connect with communities.  This month, the city of Malden is hosting an art fair where local businesses feature the work of local artists in the windows.  This brings our community out to support not just the artists, but also brings economic development through the promotion of more traffic to our local businesses.  These are just two examples of how cultural and arts organizations bring life and vibrancy to our communities. 


Richard Moore (D), Candidate for State Senate, Worcester & Norfolk

I served for several years on the Board of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in the seventies and eighties, and in this role, became convinced of the importance of investments in arts and culture for both tourism and economic development, but for the quality of life of every community.  As a history major (Clark University), and as a Selectman in Hopedale in the 1970's, I convinced Rockwell Corporation to donate the "Little Red Shop" Textile History Museum to the town and the portraits of the Drapers (Governor Eben Draper, General William Draper, etc) who were linked to the town, state, and national history were saved and placed in the town hall.  I also founded Blackstone Valley Heritage Homecoming, Inc. which promotes local cultural activities and concerts in the state park during the summer.  In more recent years, I have been and continue to be a vocal supporter of the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra in the Greater Milford Area.


Denise Provost (D), Candidate for State House, 27th Middlesex

As recently as 25 to 30 years ago, it was impossible to buy so much as a postcard with an image of Somerville on it. It was possible sometimes to find antique postcards from the 19th and early 20thcenturies, with pictures of Somerville landmarks, but nothing contemporary. Somerville was a run-down, hard-luck city, without a positive self-image.

The arts community in Somerville has done much to change that image deficit. Painters, muralists, and other visual artists; writers, musicians, cartoonists, dramatists, dancers, and other creators have filled Somerville with art, and have taken Somerville as subject matter. Images of Somerville abound. Whether it’s a postcard of the Rosebud diner, a new show at the Nave or BrickbottongalleriesHonk! or Porchfest, or a tour about Somerville’s fabulous Christmas light displays, our community is visible and vibrant from a resurgence of the arts.


Steven Ultrino (D), Candidate for State House, 33rd Middlesex:

Nearly ten years ago, two artists who had recently moved to Malden obtained a grant from the Malden Cultural Council (our local Cultural Council allocating Massachusetts Cultural Council funds) for Window Arts Malden, a program through which participating local businesses displayed the juried work of local artists for three weeks in the fall. This popular program received Cultural Council funding for three years, but has been supported by local donations since that time. Now in its ninth year, the program involves new artists and businesses each year, including artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds, recent immigrants, and local students. The volunteers who have led this effort are creating a nonprofit organization that has built a community around the arts and has engaged in other projects such as working with the City Council to facilitate local artists painting city-owned electrical switchboxes. That initial Massachusetts Cultural Council grant started the ball rolling. It is a great example of how MCC grants can work in combination with the passion and hard work of local volunteers to create opportunities in communities across the Commonwealth. 


Dan Wolf (D), Candidate for State Senate, Cape & Islands

I have been one of the longest serving members of the board of directors of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, which has provided financial and creative support to scores of artists and artistic institutions across the Cape.  I have seen first-hand how recognition, and financial support of even a very small amount, can transform the lives of artists in our community.  Without the arts and the creative economy, Cape Cod would not be the vibrant place it is. 





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