Sheila Lyons' Response to Cape Cod Arts and Cultural Questionnaire

Arts and Culture in your district

Cape Cod is blessed with a rich mix of arts & cultural organizations. Please name two places in the district where you have had personally significant arts and cultural experiences.

It is hard to point to just 2 experiences. My daughter was a member of the summer production of WHAT for Kids from 1998- 2012. She also was a member of the Harwich theater group for several years. The What theater is a regular haunt as is the Cotuit Arts center, which also has incredible theater and music, as does the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.

Provincetown Art Museum, Cape Repertory Theater in  Brewster, and of course Pops in the Park. All have added to our experience, education and enjoyment.

Arts Education and programs for our youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education and in workforce development in our 21stcentury economy. How will you champion arts education? 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?

As a Commissioner, the main reason I was able to advocate for financial support was the enrichment programs that the Arts foundation offers to our schools. Art, music lessons, dance, acting are disciplines that enhance brain development and connectivity to fine motor skills. Something even learning cursive ( a form of art) does and is now learning to write is not a requirement. We are leaving a problematic world to our children and not giving them the disciplines and skills to be able to deal with what is before them.

As CEO of the workforce investment Board I have supported the investment of arts in the schools.

Yes I would support making arts a mandatory discipline in schools. In other words I support changing Stem to Steam.

Arts and economic development

There are countless vacant buildings and storefronts from Falmouth to Provincetown, including the Hibel and Armory buildings in downtown Hyannis. What incentive might you use to entice landlords and/or businesses to partner up with our local artists to bring new life to vacant main street buildings?

On the Cape and Islands tourism is our major  economy. A prominent feature of that economy is the rich and diverse offering of arts and cultural programs.

Storefronts could be converted into art cooperatives. Creative Kitchen is an example. One could test their product, learn principles of mass production and business etc. The same could be applied to a co-op for kilns and pottery, etc. State and local government could give tax incentives to landlord who assist is converting the structure for the purpose.

Legislators should support increased funding for communities to promote such endeavors.

Addressing the Capes Socioeconomic problems

Cape Cod faces many economic and social issues, among them homelessness, addiction, and limited services for both youth and seniors. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving the district’s social and economic challenges?

I think it is understood that art is a therapeutic tool. For example the CCMaritime Museum has a program for at risk youth. It is boat building that applies principles of STEM, team work and discipline. As a geriatric social worker I have enlisted the assistance of art therapy to help deal with life transitions, grief and memory. For those in recovery the same principles apply.

The arts are part of the foundation of the human spirit and expression. Promoting the arts promotes the possible in all of us.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process. I am happy to answer any questions.


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