Waltham Arts Questionnaire

What role do arts, culture, and creativity play in your life, your family, and your community?

Waltham is an exceptionally diverse city.  As such, arts, culture and creativity play critical roles in bringing people together across the community.  We are incredibly lucky to have a long list of existing cultural assets that not only draw crowds from local residents, but attract visitors from around the state.  Our robust local music scene includes two orchestras – the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra and Waltham Symphony Orchestra, the Reagle Music Theater of Greater Boston, a free summer concert series hosted by the Waltham Arts Council, Waltham High School’s show choir Music Unlimited and show band, and many other live music offerings. We have amazing performance art by the Hovey Players, Bentley and Brandeis Theater Companies and offer unique physical assets such as the Waltham Public Library, Waltham Historic Society, a variety of historic estates and homes, and the Waltham Mills’ Artists Association.  I’ve served on the Reagle Theater Board and attended many of these performances and venues over the years and always leave amazed at how art promotes cultural understanding and civic engagement.

What are your priority issues? What role can the creative community play in addressing these challenges?

When Waltham embraces its arts, culture and diversity in a systemic way, residents will feel a new sense of community in our city. It means people of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds being a part of the decision-making process in Waltham, and as such, our city’s decisions will be more comprehensive and thoughtful about meeting the needs of all residents of Waltham. It means our streets, buildings and public spaces will be welcoming and adorned with all local art and expression. It means better enrichment in our schools and more creativity for our students. It means people of all ages and backgrounds coming together toward the common purpose of making our city beautiful and joyful. It means music and performance on our streets, tourists filling our shops and supporting our local businesses, and a revived spirit of excitement throughout our city. It’s important for residents to have the opportunities to contribute to the fabric of our community in their own unique way; Waltham will be better for it.

How will you modify or expand the City’s current administrative structure, or otherwise make changes to help address these challenges?

I support a program of arts, culture and diversity that fosters resident engagement, planning for the future, and effective management.  Waltham should seek a Cultural District Designation for downtown that supports enhanced cultural activities and tourism. Such a designation will help the area become more of a destination for events, dining, unique cultural and historic experiences, and the arts.

Adopting great models like the Sidewalk Poetry Program in Cambridge will enable more performance art in public spaces and buildings by removing red tape. I support enhanced arts and music programming in our public schools to ensure that our students obtain a comprehensive educational experience with enrichment programs that offer opportunities to express their creativity and talent in a variety of ways. I will also fight to ensure that our public library has the resources it needs to continue their valuable programming that serves residents of all ages.

Waltham should establish a Cultural Diversity Committee that will work to enhance outreach efforts to multicultural groups and promote more engagement with city government at every level. The Committee could advise the council and administration on ways to improve our diversity planning, programming and engagement, and diversity policies could be integrated into every department of city government.  The Committee could also collaborate with local artists, cultural groups, public schools and community groups to produce street-based art and performance, and to display local art throughout our public buildings and establish public-private partnerships and seek foundation support of innovative arts programming, such as micro-grants to artisan entrepreneurs, pop up art exhibits, and storefront artist programs.

I support appointing a Diversity Director within city hall to serve as a liaison to the minority and immigrant community and to ensure that all residents have an open line of communication to the Mayor’s office. The Diversity Director could also be responsible for engaging with city departments, Personnel Director, residents and with the Cultural Diversity Committee to ensure that consistent and comprehensive diversity policies are implemented throughout every city department. I also support establishing an Arts and Culture Director, who will be a strong and focused advocate for the arts in Waltham. The Arts and Culture Director could be a partner for the Waltham Arts Council and  serve as a grant writer for the city to attract new financial resources to supplement non-profit and government-sponsored activities. It is anticipated that the economic benefit of promoting enhanced diversity and art and cultural activities, coupled with the opportunity to attract grants, foundation support and public-private partnerships could generate more than enough revenue to support these two important personnel positions.