This captures Stan’s view of the importance of the arts to a society seeking economic, social and political opportunity and justice and seeking to excel at being a self governing people.
Throughout his career Stan has supported and created initiatives that enhance arts and culture in the Commonwealth. His passion for the arts began, as it did for so many, from his experiences in the public schools and was enhanced as he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts Administration and Community Development at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Art & Our Economy
As a rank and file member of the Legislature he advocated for increases in funding for the state arts council. Later, as Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, he delivered a significant increase over a three-year period and helped move the state in the direction of seeing the arts as a significant part of our economy. During that period he also created a funding stream to match federal funds for Mass Humanities.
Stan has long recognized the connection between economic and community development and the arts, especially in supporting tourism and revitalization of neighborhoods and communities. He helped create funding and technical assistance programs to help artists and communities work together to plan and carry out mutually beneficial initiatives. For more than a decade he worked on legislation to create a cultural facilities improvement program to provide matching funds to help renovate, restore, improve and build new facilities to present arts to the state’s residents and visitors alike. In the first few years of the program, investments of $250 million dollars leveraged more than $500 million in construction.
Creative Economy Council
Over the last couple of years, he has sponsored and won passage of several bills to further connect the arts to our state’s economic development. The first was the creation of the Massachusetts Creative Economy Council which brought together state government officials, artists, and arts leaders. The Council also included industry representatives from professions that are not usually thought of as being a part of the arts community including architecture, design, computer animation and more. Together they created a dynamic agenda to help move these industries forward to provide more quality jobs for the people of the Commonwealth.
State Cultural Districts
The Council supported two of Stan’s bills which, with its help, are now law. One of these bills gives communities the opportunity to apply to the Mass Cultural Council to designate a portion of their community as a Cultural District. The objective would be to coordinate community and artists efforts with the state efforts to promote these districts and the elements that make them unique. This will enhance the culture and history of the region and create a livable, sustainable community integrating the arts with residential, commercial and even industrial properties and enterprises. Thus they will create communities within communities that join efforts of artists with planners and developers to create an environment that will build and sustain quality of life and jobs.
Creativity & Education
The second calls on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to convene a commission to develop the creative challenge index. This first in the nation effort seeks to encourage our public schools to create opportunities for children to develop the skills and interests that promote their abilities to be creative and to innovate. This effort is in direct response to the concerns raised by business leaders. They see the future of our economy being driven by creativity and innovation and they know that participation in arts and other activities in school are necessary to develop and enhance these skills in their future employees. The hope is that the Commission will identify the types of activities that promote the development of these skills, develop an index to capture assets and report them and then to grade schools on the level of opportunity made available to its students. Stan also hopes the Commission will identify and share best practices to help support and enhance efforts in schools across the state.