Joe Shortsleeve's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

1. Your Personal Connection

We've all had defining moments in our lives. What personal experience with arts, culture, or creativity has had an impact on your life and your view of the community?

My fondness for the arts goes back to my early childhood. I was always involved in theater starting in 8th grade where I played a priest in Christmas performance. At Boston College High School, I played football and acted in a school play, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". My football buddies sat​ ​in the front row cheering me on.

At Holy Cross College while working at the College radio station as a talk show host and announcer I also joined the college's theater acting group for a performance at the campus center.

After moving to Medfield, I was lucky because my niece started introducing me to some of the finest local theater groups. 

Jacquline Shortsleeve, who currently is a rising senior at Medfield High School, performed with the UnCommon Theatre Group which is based in Mansfield. Rehearsals and the Young Performers Shows were performed at Qualter's Middle School in Mansfield.

I attended several of the Family Shows and Older Youth Shows which were performed at the Foxboro Orpheum Theatre. What a great local spot for people of all ages to perform. It's a location where people of all generations get the real on stage theater experience.  And what a thrill it was to see Jacquline perform the same show I did in high school, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". 

The young people involved in the productions come from the surrounding communities of Walpole, Medfield, Sharon, Norton, Attleboro, N. Attleboro, Mansfield, Foxboro and many more. It gives them a tremendous sense of history and community while performing.

I have continued to watch Jacq perform and work stage crew for the Middle School and High School productions in Medfield, MA., cheering all the way home. I know what it means for her, her friend, and family. It's why I'm dedicated to protecting opportunities for everyone to be involved in the arts. 

2. Arts & Culture in Your District

Our district is home to a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please provide us with a story about the impact of a local arts or cultural institution in our district.

The story above isn’t just how I’ve been affected personally, but how arts and culture has enriched the life of my niece.

Our arts community helps build inclusiveness and bring us in touch with neighbors we wouldn’t otherwise meet. When I first moved to Medfield in 2014, I spent a lot of time in the community building new friendships. I was invited to do a cameo at Medfield High School for “The Spelling Bee,” giving me the opportunity to do something nice for the kids and meet fellow parents at the same time. Funnily enough, the person doing the cameo for the next show was none other than Sen. Timilty.

3. Addressing District-wide Issues

Just as any other part of the state, we face many economic and social issues here in the district. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems? How would you use our community to drive economic development in the district?

Businesses that fall under the “Tourism” category represent the 3rd largest source of revenue for the Commonwealth. It shouldn’t be an afterthought to invest in projects that create community, main street jobs, and additional revenue for the Commonwealth. Massachusetts has an unrivaled history among the states, and it’s that draw of out-of-state dollars, as well as community development here at home, that enriches our neighborhoods. I’d advocate to include our district’s projects in the list of those that receive state funding. 

4. Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

Art instruction should be a critical part of education across all academic disciples as it develops the whole child. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has pledged to update the Commonwealth’s arts education curriculum as well as report on access and participation in arts education in schools in districts. How will you support arts education in the Commonwealth’s schools?

We have to start by making sure DESE holds to their pledge, and to ensure there are no delays that they prioritize doing so. The need to increase school funding from infrastructure to teacher pay is clear. Increasing school funding across the board will provide teachers and administrators the resources they need to expand and maintain a robust curriculum.

 5. The Commonwealth’s Support and Role in the Creative Community

In Fiscal Year 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature invested $14 million in organizational support through the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the creative community, ranking it eighth in the country in per capita spending. In 1988, the Massachusetts Cultural Council gave out more than $27 million in grants, nearly twice what we do now. At what level would you fund the MCC?

I support returning MCC funding to 1988 levels.  


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