Matt Patrick's Response to the 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.

The Cape Cod Children’s Museum is a wonderful place in Mashpee not only for kids but for adults to see what these kids are thinking and creating. There’s nothing more inspiring than looking at the world through the curious, creative eyes of our youth. We can learn a lot from them.

I also think the natural beauty of this district has enriched my art and cultural experiences from the still evident history of our towns to the beauty of Waquoit Bay and Cape Cod Canal to name just two. As an artist myself, I often walk along the beach and find inspiration for my own work. Just last summer I met a woman and her very young daughter digging for clams which led to a woodcut print of a similar scene. Watching the castoff of a fly fisherman or the glisten of a sunfish zipping through the water can also be very inspirational and I don’t think I could replace that with anything else.

Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Creativity and innovation are vital skills in a student’s education and in workforce development in our 21st century 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?

I absolutely agree that creativity and innovation are vital. Having worked in the Massachusetts Legislature for 10 years, I can promise you that it is much easier to accomplish something if one is creative. I also think when we open ourselves to creative and innovative opportunities in life and in the workplace we become much more effective and accommodating in a positive way.

I’ve always championed arts education; it is one of the most important gifts we can give our children. Kids have flexible, curious minds that can do so much when given the freedom and opportunity to express themselves whether through paint or song or dance. I will, as a legislator, continue to fight for proper funding and enthusiasm to keep these necessary programs alive.

I support quality arts education in high school, especially if there are a variety of arts programs to encourage students toward an area he or she is more inclined­ fine arts, graphic arts, music, theatre, etc. You hate to see anyone do something they don’t like doing, and some people don’t enjoy pastels or watercolor but are a whiz at photoshop. I support a year of arts education and I support a spectrum of options for young people to discover what is their passion.

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?

Vacant buildings are an excellent opportunity to create inspiration zones. One idea would be a shared/cooperative studio space for artists to work and a shop in the building where they can sell their art. Depending on the building and location, affordable housing units might be appropriate or office space for arts and culture nonprofits could go in. Ideally, you could use these vacant buildings as artistic community centers that would also benefit the general public 1) because it’s not a vacant building and 2) it’s another place for people to experience arts and culture and we can never have too much of that.

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 environment that supports the creative community and tourism across the Commonwealth, and particularly on Cape Cod?

I think this would be an excellent opportunity for the state to cooperate with the towns and cities to help fund cultural tourism zones. Salem has a great program that involves walking the town along the red line on the sidewalk with information all over the place for people to read and museums or tours to participate with if they are inclined. Plymouth is another example of networked arts and cultural bubbles throughout the town connected by links through the arts guild, the plantation, the antiquarian society and a host of other groups. I think that down here in Bourne, Falmouth and Mashpee we have an excellent opportunity with a rich history and a plethora of active organizations to connect the story from one end of the district to the other. This involves arts, culture, history and the environment and it would be great to see cooperation among the various non profits and interest groups for a cultural and arts trail.

As a legislator, I would sit down with these groups, hold open public forums for people to share thoughts and ideas and then fight to get the necessary funding from the budget to help implement them.

Addressing Cape Cod’s Socioeconomic Issues

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?

Art can bring people together; people need not be able to speak the same language or even speak at all to share the experience of a beautiful song or a painting or to appreciate the fine details of a sculpture. One way we can capitalize on that is arts and culture programs shared between the senior and youth populations. This is a mutually beneficial pairing and can only be made better with the arts. Imagine a table surrounded with elderly and young people drawing, coloring, learning to knit, reading a play, performing music, etc. This won’t solve socio­economic problems, but it is a start.

I think to really dig deeper on what we can do with these issues and the arts is to think about the opportunities with those vacant buildings and cultural/arts tourism. Integrating into the bike paths which already exist would be a fairly low cost way to jump start a program to teach kids about the history of our communities (and it’s certainly better to have a kid on a bike than on heroin). Linking up existing events with community theatre, music or arts programs might be another opportunity to keep people engaged and active in the community.

At the end of the day, we’ve got to invest in education and programs to keep kids nourished body and mind if we want to solve these problems. Let’s put our kids to work with a paintbrush or teaching an arts class at the senior center. Let’s keep them engaged in the history and future of our communities.

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