Image By Scott Murry
Back in July, at the Gubernatorial Candidates Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity in Worcester, Martha Coakley talked herself in circles and Charlie Baker was a no show. With Election Day edging closer, Coakley (D) and Baker (R) have firmed up their respective stances on the arts.
It would be nice to think that the engagement is of their own voltion. It would be nice, but their piping up is undoubtedly prompted by nonprofit arts advocacy group MASSCreative’s second Arts Matter Day, a social media campaign where Massachusetts creatives are tasked to tweet why #ArtsMatter in order to get candidates thinking and talking about the impact art has in Massachusetts.
Today, October 23, 2014 is Arts Matter Day. Thousands of artists, cultural leaders, and supporters of the arts will be emailing candidates, sharing videos, and posting to Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #ArtsMatter, #MaGov14, and #mapoli to share stories of the impact art has in Massachusetts.
Ahead of the July Forum, the first of its kind in Massachusetts (which was also organized by MASSCreative), each candidate — then eight — was prompted with a questionnaire with topics ranging from their personal relationship with the arts to Massachusetts Cultural Council funding. Coakley filed hers in timely form (excerpted here), and then regurgitated a form of her responses at the debate.
I have seen the arts not as a luxury, but as a necessity, especially for young people; in addition to creating the artists of tomorrow, whether they are painters or graphic designers, sculptors or architects, promoting the arts among young people will also create the patrons of the arts, who will continue to support the creative economy in Massachusetts for years to come …
As absent as he was from the stage that night, so too was Baker’s questionnaire. Today — four months and a week after what would be a reasonable time to hand in his answers — Baker has responded, revealing that he is a voracious reader, a big Bruce Springsteen fan, and that he is inclined to use one sentence answers, even when the question warrants much more.
I have unfortunately not been gifted with any artistic talent of my own, but literature and music have always been a big part of my life. I majored in English in college and am grateful for the deep love of reading that my parents and teachers instilled in me. I’m also a huge music fan. I have been to hundreds of concerts, mostly Springsteen and Dropkick Murphys shows. Arts, culture and creativity bring great joy and color to our lives and communities …
One-upping Baker, Coakley held a press conference this morning at Victory Theater in Holyoke to announce her arts platform. Perhaps aware of the criticisms hurled at her after the July debate — in summary, her answers were evasive and anecdotal — Coakley has presented a thoughtful, clear campaign on how she will be a champion for the arts if elected.
In a press release this morning, Matt Wilson, MASSCreative Executive Director, commented on Coakley’s platform, applauding her for supporting the arts.
Martha Coakley’s arts platform is a clear outline of how she would champion the arts, cultural, and creative sector as governor. Her promise to explore the creation of a new cabinet position to integrate the arts across all domains including education, economic development, transportation, housing, and environmental affairs, shows an understanding of the role that the arts already play in these areas. Past approaches to planning, which have taken the arts for granted, have resulted in multiple lost opportunities to leverage arts and culture to their fullest extent …
The inclusion of a conversation surrounding the arts in Massachusetts is a monumental step in the race to governorship, at least this time around. For that, kudos to MASSCreative for forcing accountability.
As for the candidates themselves, as usual, they can do better.