Current occupation and employer:
Please list your top three priorities if elected.
Environmental Issues: NYSERDA reforms to increase renewable energy production; ban microbeads; homeowner “green” incentives; low-cost power from Power Authority
Education: reform Common Core; revive quality trade schools; lower class size; more low interest student loans & incentive/scholarship programs
Government Integrity: closer monitoring of Buffalo Billion; transparency in State Authority reporting; no placement of facilities in communities without public input; strict prosecution for campaign finance and disclosure violations; officials forfeit pension & benefits if convicted of crime
What is the role of arts and culture in community development and revitalization?
“A&C” contribute to educational enrichment that encourages a creative environment with innovative minds that industry & businesses often seek; they help to positively define an area as desirable to live & work in, which helps to retain & grow population and investment; they inspire new businesses ventures, whether they are museums, design studios or fashion houses; they generate tourism that brings outside dollars into the community. As job growth stabilizes an area, business & public support can grow for A&C & vise versa. If development is bricks and mortar, arts and culture give it life.
What is the role of arts and culture in your plans for economic development in Western New York?
Tourism development is an obvious choice given our historic & architectural traditions, & multi-ethnic population. Grant St. is ripe for development as ethnic shop & restaurant sector; state involvement with small business loans, housing revitalization & technical assistance for regional promotion makes sense. Support for cross-border tourism initiatives. Increase public art through public/private partnerships & build permanent site for vendors of regionally made goods as waterfront attraction with WNY benefits. Business incentives to integrate public space & art with commercial development.
How would you develop cultural and heritage tourism in Western New York?
Work with A&C organizations to survey short, medium, long range tourism opportunities to create masterplan. Develop local, regional, inter-state advertising via TV, radio, internet. Targeted advertising via print media to preservation groups, etc. Promotion of cross-border tourism. Work more closely with Niagara Falls. Develop interest-specific multi-day inclusive tour packages (women’s, African-American, American history or architecture, crafts, etc). Establish comprehensive website of A&C sites, activities & organizations; advertise via municipal bills, bank statements, bus ads, p.s. ads
In what ways would you support young people’s access to the arts in order to foster the creative thinking skills needed to ensure a solid future workforce in Western New York?
Require art, music, art & music appreciation courses K-12, with instruments & supplies available. Enrichment courses in woodworking, textiles, etc. during school year & summer. Funding for school field trips & libraries. School funding should show understanding these are not frivolous, but needed, studies. All State-funded sites & activities should have deep discounts or free student admission. Would enjoy working with private sector to establish annual exhibit of student creative work at Convention Center, including everything from dance to robotics.
Would you vote to decrease, hold steady, or increase grant funding for cultural organizations through the New York State Council on the Arts if elected, and why?
I would vote to increase funding. Due to economic circumstances & politics, A&C funding has decreased over the years despite a growth in understanding that cultural funding is a good investment for economic development and revitalization, as well as quality of life. The State can’t afford blank checks, but many smaller & newer arts organizations have been left out of funding, with monies going to the most established institutions. Grants can help grow a newer organization, especially if it is “mentored” by a more established one.
Several of the Regional Economic Development Council plans throughout the state include arts and culture as a priority or targeted industry, but the WNY plan only mentions it in the context of tourism. If elected, would you advocate for the inclusion of arts and culture in the WNY REDC plan and for a cultural representative to sit on the council, and why?
I’d advocate for inclusion of A&C in the WNY REDC plan & for a Council cultural representative. A&C have a significant role in economic development & revitalization. They build identity of a city or region, contribute to creative growth that attracts businesses, inspire new ventures, generate tourism & help define an area as a good place to live & work. They contribute to stabilizing & growing population & a focus to the future. Part of the issue is measurement. The REDC plan should include a method of measuring the value of A&C to show A&C isn’t begging a seat at the table, but earned one.