Margeaux Weber'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.

It is difficult to name only two places, and to stay within the Second Barnstable District.  That being said, Cotuit Center for the Arts is a very special place for me and my family.  As members, we have seen some incredible performances there, ranging from concerts by both local and internationally acclaimed artists, to readings of original plays, to full productions of plays and Broadway musicals, as well as visiting their gallery exhibits and taking classes.  We also have had the opportunity to participate in performances.  My daughter was in the company of GYPSY last summer and is in OKLAHOMA this summer.  I also have performed at Cotuit, in “Moms on Broadway,” a musical revue featuring an incredible group of smart, talented and funny women.  I take tap classes there as well.

I would also name Barnstable High School – experiencing the talent and creativity of its students in art, poetry, music and theatre constantly impresses and inspires me. 

It is outside my district, but I have to mention Cape Cod Theatre Company – Home of Harwich Junior Theatre.  I am proud to be a Board member of this unique organization.  CCTC has provided theatre training and experience to generations of Cape Cod performers, artists and technicians.  With its student matinees and family-oriented productions, CCTC has introduced some of our youngest audiences to the joys of live theatre.  My daughter has taken classes and performed with CCTC as well –   I am thrilled that she has had these opportunities to work with and learn from such talented artists, as well as making lasting friendships.  It is inspiring to me to work with such dedicated volunteers as my fellow board members, in support of the vision and efforts of our staff and artists. 

Arts Education and Programs for our Youth

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

Nurturing and developing creativity and innovation is fundamental to a successful economy and society.  Incorporating the arts in education is a vital part of that process.   I have advocated for and supported arts education as a member and chair of the Barnstable School Committee and as a board member of the Cape Cod Theatre Company, Home of Harwich Junior Theatre.  Barnstable High School is well-known for the depth and quality of its programs in the performing, graphic and fine arts, both academic and extra-curricular.  For some students, these programs are why they come to school every day.

We must also acknowledge that experience in the fine and performing arts can lead to careers in the arts and other fields.  I was a Theatre and Speech major at Allentown College (now DeSales University) and then obtained my Masters in Theatre from Northwestern University.  I worked in both production and administration for several non-profit theatres and other arts organizations for almost a decade before going to law school.    

As the emphasis on standardized testing as a measure of achievement continues, advocacy for arts in education –the need for its availability, importance and value – is essential.   Instruction in and exposure to the arts fosters creativity, imagination and expression.  Aside from this innate value, the arts can enhance other areas of instruction.  When my children were in elementary school, I volunteered to lead Reader’s Theatre activities in their classrooms.   My experience was that students at all levels of reading ability, including struggling students, wanted to have a part in the play – wanted to read aloud – which develops reading fluency.  Look at the phenomenon of “Hamilton” – commercial success aside, this past spring, social media was overflowing with gratitude to Lin-Manuel Miranda from legions of high school students who were taking AP U.S. History. As a legislator, I would advocate for programs to bolster arts education in the classroom, such as efforts to turn STEM to STEAM. 

MassCore (the state recommended high school course of studies for college and career readiness) already includes one unit of arts education –I would enthusiastically support the natural progression to make that a requirement for admission to state universities.

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?

In towns and cities across the country, there are models of programs using art to enhance vacant spaces– putting artwork in the windows, turning the buildings into art with murals, and turning vacant buildings into galleries and performance spaces. For landlords and business owners, there can be a mix of incentives to partner with local artists and organizations – to increase traffic, make their properties more visible and appealing, create excitement.  In Philadelphia, a commercial developer who has invested $20 million in properties in a gentrifying neighborhood is using public art to rebrand the neighborhood as a “center for the creative class.” The company has partnered with the city’s Mural Arts Program, with the developer providing partial funding.  The Mural Arts program matched that funding, and is funding a related art-education project. 

In the Second Barnstable District, efforts to revitalize vacant main street buildings could be supported within the Hyannis HyArts Cultural District.  I applaud and support the efforts by the Town of Barnstable, the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and the other partners in developing the Cultural District and would be its strong advocate in the legislature.

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?

The legislature can support the creative community and tourism on Cape Cod by fully funding the efforts of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, particularly its cultural tourism programs, as well as local efforts. Cape Cod communities need support to build the creative economy.

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?

Research shows that the most effective substance abuse prevention programs for children focus on the whole child – building resilience, making healthy choices, managing stress and pressure.  The arts can and should be an essential part of the social/emotional learning programs in our schools. I would advocate for support and resources for outreach programs offered by local arts organizations and encourage the development of additional programs.  For example, Cape Cod Theatre Company offers outreach and theatre in the classroom programs such as Compassion Through Creativity, Bullying and Teasing Prevention and Exploring Adolescent Health Issues.  In Maryland, the state’s Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force worked with the Department of Education to create a program in which high school drama classes developed and produced original plays based on the true stories of addicts and the impacts of addiction on their families and friends.  Similarly, the arts can play a significant role in recovery. Cape Cod has the cultural resources to support similar programs using local talent.  

Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...