Newburyport Area Arts, Culture, and Creative Leaders Meet With State Rep Candidates Ed Cameron and Ari Herzog; Both Candidates Pledge To Work To Restore Arts Funding To Previous Levels of $27M

October 20, 2014—MASSCreative announced today that leaders and supporters of arts and culture in Newburyport and the First Essex District have met with candidates for state representative Ed Cameron and Ari Herzog. Candidates Cameron and Herzog are competing to represent the First Essex District in the state legislature; the district had previously been represented by Michael Costello, who resigned in September to focus on his law practice. Arts leaders met separately with the candidates on Thursday, October 16 to discuss their vision for the creative community for the towns of Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury.

Cameron emphasized the importance of connecting the deep history of Newburyport and the surrounding area with the richness of the arts community. He talked about his work as both an historic preservationist and his personal love of music and theater. The candidate also described his work at nonprofits organizations such as the Pine Street Inn and Community Teamworks in Lowell and said he understands the struggles non-profits go through to fund their work.

Cameron acknowledged that the area’s arts, cultural, and creative community could not reach its full potential with the level of funding currently provided by the state. He pledged to work to increase state and local investment in the arts, cultural, and creative community to pre-1990 levels when the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) was funded at approximately $27 million annually; today the MCC receives about $12 million annually. Cameron also said he would like to identify a dedicated source of revenue that will significantly increase resources to the community. Said Cameron, “I will champion your causes.”

Herzog talked about the need to build collaborations and work with creative entrepreneurs who are key players in the North Shore economy. The candidate also described his personal connection to the arts through music and drama in high school and college, as well as performing in “The Laramie Project” in Newburyport.

Herzog pledged to work to increase state and local investment in the arts, cultural, and creative community. He emphasized the need for support for arts and culture given that nearly everyone in the community is impacted by the work of the sector. He said he believes that funding for the statewide arts community should be at levels seen decades ago when the state was investing $27 million a year into the community. Said Herzog, “We need to invest in what makes people smile.”

“Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts support more than 45,000 jobs, spend $2.1 billion annually, and generate another $2.5 billion of economic activity,” said Matt Wilson, Executive Director of MASSCreative. “We see the impact of the arts locally here in Newburyport, Amesbury, and Salisbury through the work of the local cultural councils, which make the arts accessible to young children, students, families, and older adults. They also help support working artists. We look forward to working with lawmakers in the next legislative session to ensure that the Commonwealth is getting the most out of its investment in the arts.”

Arts and community leaders including Beth Falconer of Firehouse Center for the Arts; Ann Ormond of the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce; Anne Spraker of the Newburyport Cultural Council; Lois Honegger of the Newburyport Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs; Edward Speck and Kelly Shea Knowles of Theatre in the Open; Vicki Hendrickson of the Newburyport Literary Festival; Anne Easter Smith, a local artist; and Greg Nikas, a photographer and gallery owner, met with Cameron and Herzog in separate meetings at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport on Thursday, October 16.

MASSCreative is meeting with candidates through the Create the Vote Coalition—a collaboration of Massachusetts arts, cultural, and creative institutions convened by MASSCreative. The Create the Vote Coalition is also asking candidates for governor and state legislative office to fill out an arts questionnaire. Both Cameron and Herzog filled out the questionnaire; their answers are available online:

Link to state representative candidate Ed Cameron’s answers to the Create the Vote Coalition questionnaire.

Link to state representative candidate Ari Herzog’s answers to the Create the Vote Coalition questionnaire.

On July 15, the Coalition hosted the historic Gubernatorial Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity, the first-ever gubernatorial debate about arts and culture. The Forum was held at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester and attended by 500 artists, cultural leaders, and members of the public. Candidates Don Berwick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Mark Fisher, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Jeff McCormick answered questions from moderator Joyce Kulhawik and arts leaders from around the state. A video of the Forum is available here.



Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works with creative leaders and entrepreneurs, working artists, arts educators, and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and support necessary to build vibrant and connected communities.

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