Joseph Mckenna 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?

 As a child I took guitar lessons for several years.  Unfortunately, I did not stay with them, but those lessons began my appreciation for music, especially live performed music.  I now truly enjoy going to plays, concerts, or other live performances, whether it be at a concert hall or just a small local band or artist performing at a local bar. 

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.

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. 

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 certainly oppose the concept of ‘teaching to the test’ and believe that standardized testing to specific topics can be a very ineffective way of helping to mold well rounded students. To that end, I would support resources for arts education, both through the school curriculum and through local community centers.  I do also support broadening our student’s exposure to various experiences including arts education. However, I don’t believe that our state university system should limit their admissions process based on one’s exposure to arts education.

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? 

I believe that continued partnerships between the Commonwealth, local cultural centers, and non-profit organizations will provide the most effective use of limited resources to spread art and culture throughout the community.  Rather than competing for limited resources, I support a partnership which combines State resources with local expertise.

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?

 I believe that arts and culture can be therapeutic to those facing socioeconomic stresses as well as illness, especially among children and seniors. I would support greater partnerships with our community culture centers and correctional facilities and health care and rehabilitation facilities.  By providing opportunities for individuals to become involved in, or enjoy various forms of performance or medium art can enhance their lives or provide a much needed sense of accomplishment and community.  It can also bring many diverse people together, opening doors that might otherwise be closed.

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 support funding in the budget according to the State’s revenue capacity and various other factors.  Unfortunately, as we are currently uncertain as to what those levels will be for the FY 16 budget I am not willing to commit a hard dollar amount to where I believe this funding should be.  That being said, I will oppose any further cuts in funding to the MCC.

  • 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?

Infrastructure investment is essential to supporting cultural centers throughout the State, and I believe that matching grants are a very strong way to maximize fundraising efforts, resources, and responsibility for providing arts and culture.  I would support continuing to offer these matching grants.

  • Would you develop or dedicate a revenue stream to provide a sustainable and stable funding stream for the arts, cultural, and creative community?

I do not support new taxes.

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