Mary Keefe Response

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?

I distinctly remember the first time I visited the Worcester Art Museum.  I was 12 years old. And I knew right then that I would return again and again to this special place. And over the years I have done just that.  WAM made me a better artist, art educator and community leader.

Arts and Culture in Your District

Art and culture plays a role in the Commonwealth from Boston and the Gateway Cities and our rural and suburban towns.  Please provide us with a story of the impact a local arts or cultural institution brings to your district.

My District really constitutes all of downtown Worcester so everything from the Hanover Theatre to Worcester Common and City Hall Plaza to the Canal District to the broad way of Shrewsbury Street and beyond are venues for all sorts of arts and cultural events throughout the year.  These public events make our city engaging and vibrant which is really why we love cities.  I would especially like to see smaller scale public art and culture happening in our neighborhoods as well.  Sometimes we are so desperately saving downtown we forget the smaller more grass roots places that can build strong connections with families.

Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education. While many communities have access to quality arts education, many youth are still being left out of the creative community. How will you 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 to make 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 program to transform it to STEAM?

I am discouraged to see Worcester Public Schools drop significant arts and cultural opportunities that were previously funded through the 21st Century federal program.  WPS did not reapply for funds this past year.

Also, Community School funding was cut from this years budget so schools are increasingly being closed once the academic day is over and after school programming is no longer happening.  I view this trend as complicit with emphasis on testing and scores and a narrowing view of what a school or community’s responsibility is and what contributes to a child’s academic success.  I will strongly advocate for funding for after school programs in our schools.

I have reservations about mandating the arts as a requirement. 

I would like to see more support for pursuing the Arts in higher Education and for that to be affordable.

Economic Development

Nonprofit art and cultural organizations support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity. How will the legislature foster an ecosystem which supports the creative community and industry across the Commonwealth?

Addressing the Commonwealth’s Socioeconomic Issues

Massachusetts faces many economic and social issues, among them workforce development, public safety, and health care. Can you provide examples on how you would utilize the arts, cultural, and creative community to address the Commonwealth’s social and economic challenges?

Families are hard pressed these days with both parents working and sometime multiple jobs.

Families want their children to be safe and the two places they feel are most safe are home and school.

These are the best public facilities in our neighborhoods.  They should not be locked up but open and thriving with art, theatre, science and recreation happening so our children can discover more about themselves and what they want to be and do.

The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

  • Last year, Massachusetts invested $12 million in organizational support through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the creative community, ranking it ninth in the country. In 1988, the MCC gave out more than $27 million in grants, more than twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?
    • I would like to see us increase our capacity and funds available to at least what we were able to do in 1988.  I will support graduated income tax and revenue reform that will make the funds available to do so.
  • For the past two years, Governor Patrick allocated $15 million in matching grants through the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to support the maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of the Commonwealth’s cultural facilities. At what level do you suggest the Commonwealth fund this program?
    • I would like to understand the need.
  • Would you develop or dedicate a revenue stream to provide a sustainable and stable funding stream for the arts, cultural, and creative community?
    • Yes
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