Michelle DuBois 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 was finishing up my college career in North Adams just as MASS MoCA was establishing itself there in the late nineties. I volunteered to help with some of their early events because I saw it as an exciting evolution for the city. There are few examples of the re-use of industrial-era buildings in the state that have had such a large impact on fostering a creative community. It is a model that holds lessons for other communities with under-used industrial space. 

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.

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.

 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 do support the concept of “STEAM” and the importance of arts education. One of the keystones of my education policy has been to look to the newly formed “Innovation Schools” for best practices when it comes to closing achievement gaps. In those “Innovation” contexts, the rigidity of “teaching to the test” is loosened and creative approaches to curriculum are encouraged. I’ll be looking to where those programs succeeded and arts programs are certain to be part of a strategy to keep kids engaged.

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’m committed to making sure Massachusetts’ Innovation Economy continues to thrive and that the 10th Plymouth District benefits from it. There are industrial-era buildings in the district that are ripe for the kind of re-use that can benefit entrepreneurs and workers in the creative economy. I’ll work hard to incentivize the re-use of many old buildings in the district. The inertia in some of the downtown real estate market needs to be spurred into action and the creative economy would be a natural beneficiary, as the new Trinity project in Brockton can attest (42 live/work spaces mixed in with traditional housing).

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?

My vision for workforce development involves matching the needs in the local economy to Community Colleges and their capacity to teach the skills needed to help workers attain the skills they need to get entry into that economy. Given the Innovation Sector’s importance in the state, the creative economy would clearly be represented in any expansion of workforce development.

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 advocate for an expansion of funding if the revenues were available.

  • 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 need to study this program further to offer an opinion, but it seems like a modest number for a state that boasts such an array of extremely important and, in some cases, extremely old cultural buildings.

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

I’m open to this and I’ll offer an example from my own professional experience that might serve as a kind of model: I work for a legal aid organization whose funding comes, partially, from interest compounded on lawyers’ trust accounts. The state still contributes a substantial amount of the legal aid budget, but this funding mechanism serves as a stable and predictable revenue stream for our field.

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