The Ann Arbor Arts Alliance asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire about their support for the arts. Here are my replies.
What arts and cultural activities have you or your family members attended, participated in, or supported in the past year?
Performance Arts, Visual Arts, Science & Technology Museums, Historic Museums
Thinking back to your own K-12 education, what arts or cultural classes, programs or activities did you participate in?
Instrumental Music, Literary, Visual, Dance, Theater
What is your position on public funding for arts & culture?
When I think of the role of arts in our community life, I think of the famous textile strike in Lawrence, MA. That strike became known as the “bread and roses” strike, and it inspired a song, one verse of which is: “Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.”
The arts are one source of nourishment that keeps our hearts from starving. The arts both enrich our quality of life and create a liveable, vibrant community that supports economic vitality. Therefore I believe that local government should look for ways to support our local arts community
The city’s current “Percent for Art” is an attempt to do just that. Unfortunately, it has significant limitations on what it can fund, it only covers permanent installations of visual arts, and it does not adequately focus on local artists. I would support looking for ways to establish a more flexible funding stream for the arts.
Given current budget constraints, it is important that arts funding not compete with general fund expenses like police and fire. The Percent for Art program is structured so that it is funded outside of the general fund, and local government should fight misconceptions in this area to address community concerns and solidify support for arts funding.
Ann Arbor must have basic services to function, but it is largely the city’s culture that makes it a delightful city. It would be foolish to cast aside the roses that make our city great.
If elected, what *measurable* actions will you take to ensure arts & culture can survive and thrive in Washtenaw County?
The recent community focus has been on the role of the Percent for Art ordinance in funding art. I would support a community review to evaluate if that is the best way to fund the arts and culture, or to see if we could establish an alternative funding mechanism that would allow more flexibility to support performing arts and other cultural programs. I would also look for other ways to support the arts through in-kind support and partnerships.
One concern I have heard from groups organizing festivals and events is that the permitting and approval processes can be arduous. If elected, I will work to nurture a “customer service” approach to these processes to remove barriers that impede the arts programming and festivals that are part of what makes Ann Arbor a truly exceptional place to live.
If you support public funding for arts and culture, what do you think are the best means of allocating funds? (Options included: tax-based funding (millage), percent for public art programs, appropriations, none, and other.)
Tax-based funding (Millage)