FRAMINGHAM – The seven mayoral candidates were asked to discuss the importance of the arts in the new-to-be City of Framingham.
In the last 18 months,
- Danforth Museum and Art School was evicted from its home of decades.
- Fountain Street Studios was closed to the public.
- Fountain Street Fine Arts gallery moved out of town.
- And several Fountain Street artists have left Framingham and opened shop in other communities.
Editor’s Note: Answers are posted alphabetically. Candidate Josh Horrigan did not submit a response to this question. Candidates had four days to answer this question and several others.
Voters will go to the polls on Sept 26. They can vote for one of seven candidates for mayor on the ballot.
The two individuals with the most votes will appear on the November 7 ballot. One will be elected Framingham’s first mayor.
Ben Neves-Grigg: Framingham needs to maintain a solid art culture for our residents.
We, my administration, will look to identify facilities that would be good locations to maintain those venues.
What comes to mind, is the Harley Davidson building on Waverly Street or, as I understand, the Danforth Building is being razed in the near future, perhaps we could consider the cost of constructing a new arts building, including displays and theater.
Of course, we would need to find external funding to offset the costs.
Dhruba Sen: Supporting Arts is part of the Smart City vision. I will constitute an Advisory Council consisting of local artists to elicit their needs and advise for a vibrant arts community in Framingham and endeavor to provide necessary funding to support the arts community.. I will support an Arts Gallery in Framingham.
To quote The Kresge Foundation which is committed to supporting art and culture in community building, said it best:
Cultural institutions and artists animate our communities; they bring disparate people together to share common experiences, stimulating our imaginations and helping us foster a rich and varied quality of life.
As we move into a new economy that values creativity and innovation, we need to reinvent our schools and our communities, where our young people spend more that half their time. Indeed, all of us need places that nurture our creative self.
According to the New Cities Foundation, a new independent non-profit with offices in Geneva and Paris: Over the next decade, some $ 250 billion will be invested in the creation of new cultural districts around the globe” … “success is not just getting an arts building or series of buildings out of the ground, it is about ensuring that they are viable and play a central role in their communities.
Priscila Sousa: The arts made a significant impact in my decision to run for mayor. I have always desired serve my community through elected office, but when I saw the tremendous struggle to have the voices of our artists represented I realized the time is now. Framingham is a place of great talent and it is only fitting that the voices that contribute these qualities to our community get a say in what our future holds.
I have had the opportunity to connect with the artistic community over time through Art Au Pair, an impressive network of artists dedicated to cultivating the arts in the Framingham community. Their mission is to improve their surroundings through their talents. As mayor, I will give them the opportunities and the space to implement their ideas.
Three of their main projects are Art stops, the Mural Movement, and Artztravaganza.
The Art Stops are artists set up in areas of the community and work on their craft in public as other volunteers pick up litter/planting flowers. The Mural Movement are a series of murals depicting Framingham’s History as well with the goal to acquire a “free wall,” a wall where artists can paint and contribute to a greater project with appropriate content. The free wall has proven to decrease vandalism in many other cities and towns.
Then there is “Artztravaganza,” a yearly event to show the public that the Metrowest has more to offer then drugs, violence and what the media portrays. Local artists the public schools and other organizations are invited to participate in this showcase. It’s a full day event with multi media showcases and multi genre performances. The idea is to bring the creative minds and residents under one roof to learn about one another and network for the future.
When asked about their inspiration, they said, “there are 7 billion ideas and aspirations floating around simultaneously, and if we can make one come to reality we are one step closer to our goal.” I find that to be a noble goal and have every intention of helping them reach it.
Yvonne Spicer: As Framingham’s first Mayor will set a tone and expectation for a renewed focus on the arts in our community. I believe that strong cities must always be investing in arts and music programs in schools as well as across the community. These activities can spark life-long creativity in our young people and are some of what gives communities like Framingham our unique identities.
The arts bring people together. Creative art programs attract new people to Framingham and can become economic drivers for new businesses.
We also need to make sure that we support our community of artists by dedicating both spaces and opportunities for their work to shine. The unfortunate end to the Fountain Street studios is a major loss not only to our artistic community; it is a huge loss to all of us.
Further, we should look into ways to grow and support the artists’ community. With a number of vacant buildings and spaces around town, it is essential that we look for a way to develop the arts right here, in Framingham.
As Mayor, I will create a task force to spearhead attention to local arts. Our artistic jewels such as the Danforth Museum and the Amazing Things Arts Center can be put to greater use and I will lead an effort keep the arts in Framingham and expand opportunities for our creative economy.
John Stefanini: We need to ensure that our arts and culture institutions meet the needs of our residents and continue to contribute to our vibrant community for generations to come.
We need to assist the growth and development of arts and culture venues to preserve and enhance these tremendously rich resources.
We can look to successful ventures such as the Framingham History Center for guidance. Our municipal planners can partner with Framingham State University, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and others in developing a community master plan that helps us to establish and nurture a more robust foundation for our arts and cultural activities.
Mark Tilden: Create liberal zoning laws for property owners who wish to develop artist lofts.
Have the city take receivership of abandoned tax delinquent properties and lease them out to starving artists. Let SMOC run them.
Support the Friends of Saxonville in its efforts to preserve historic buildings such as the carpet mill which houses many artist studios.
Economic development. A vibrant downtown will create demand for high end retail establishments, including an art gallery or two.