‘Arts Matter,’ and MASSCreative Is Making Sure the Candidates for Governor Know It

An aggressive campaign will sweep across the state beginning Friday to keep gubernatorial hopefuls informed about the importance of artistic creativity in Massachusetts.

Photo via Associated Press

Photo via Associated Press

Artists and organizations that promote people’s creative skills are preparing to bombard—in a friendly way—the candidates for governor, to remind them that the arts should not be ignored.

“This is an opportunity for the public and leaders in the community in different ways to show that the arts matter to them, and they should matter to our political leaders,” said MASSCreative executive director Matt Wilson.

MASSCreative is leading this charge, appropriately called #ArtsMatter, which kicks off Friday, and will include an onslaught of direct messages inserted into public programming across Massachusetts, informing spectators about the gubernatorial candidates’ stances on the arts sector while also serving as an aide-mémoire that part of their campaign promises should include ways to bolster artistic endeavors.

“Leaders often think the arts are a nice thing to have, but they don’t generally understand that it’s a necessary factor in driving our economy, and educating kids and building livable communities where we want to work and play,” said Wilson. “Part of this campaign is an educational piece to start shifting that narrative.”

Dozens of videos featuring people’s personal stories, as well as proof from organizations that the arts are an integral part of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, have been posted to MASSCreative’s YouTube page to further that message.

The video testimonials created to support the campaign include appearances by Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director at the Museum of Fine Arts; UMass Dartmouth College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Adrian Tió; New Bedford Symphony Orchestra Education Director Terry Wolkowicz; Celebrity Series of Boston Executive Director Gary Dunning; and StageSource Executive Director Julie Hennrikus.

In what’s being described as a “tsunami of activism,” organizations across the state will also include brief explanations about the #ArtsMatter campaign prior to their events taking place.

“We look at elections as really the time for the commonwealth to step back and look at strengths and challenges and vision for the next five or ten years,” said Wilson. “Some folks will send out notices to their email lists, and others will [spread the message] during events. They will do it based on what the best action is that’s in sync with what they do.”

Wilson said their bipartisan efforts—they don’t have a “favorite horse in the race”— will also spill over into the realm of social media. The campaign follows a special forum backed by MASSCreative and more than 260 artists that took place in July, called the Gubernatorial Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity. There, critics picked candidates’ brains about where the arts stand in their grand scheme for the state.

“This is a real public education piece to put it out there that arts matter, and really try to encourage candidates to move the narrative from ‘yah that’s nice,’ to ‘yes it’s necessary to run a vibrant and connected Commonwealth,'” he said.