Do the Candidates Support the Arts?
Election Day 2012 is quickly approaching. Through public appearances and ads wherever you look, the candidates have been making their case for your vote. Between U.S. and State representatives New Yorkers will be deciding on 241 seats. While there are certainly many important issues to take into account when casting a ballot, I wanted to know how our local political contenders support the arts.
So I set out to discover where hopeful candidates stood on the arts. This was a much more difficult task than I had imagined. Many different organizations ask the candidates to complete questionnaires revealing their position on certain issues. Health Care, the economy, the environment, education, gun control, Afghanistan and several other topics are universal to most position polls. The Arts and Humanities however... is a topic that is often not included in the questions asked. In those questionnaires where the arts are included, candidates will often skip the question. Even candidates who have a strong history of supporting the arts are reluctant to articulate their stance on this issue.
When Barack Obama took office in 2009, he was the first President ever to enter office with a plan for the arts. However, if you look at his website today, the arts is no longer included in the list of issues that he is addressing.
Most candidates will release official statements about their position on a variety of topics, but you will be hard pressed to find a candidate who has an official statement about arts and culture. There is a candidate who is running for the NY State Senate who is an artist, Catherine Wark and even she does not have an official policy on the arts.
When the Democratic National Committee released their National Platform in September, it included a statement of support for the arts:
"Arts and Culture. Democrats are proud of our support for arts funding and education. We are committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already done so much for our creative arts industry and economy. Investment in the arts strengthens our communities and contributes to our nation's rich cultural heritage. We will continue to support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools. The entire nation prospers when we protect and promote the unique and original artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation's heritage."
Americans for the Arts requested an official stand from Governor Romney on this topic but has yet to receive a response. You can check out their website for updates to see if they receive it in the next couple of weeks.
So how do you know if the arts are important to your candidates? Well, each year Americans for the Arts scores incumbent candidates from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives based on: their voting record on items such as arts funding, committee memberships, sponsorship of pro-arts legislation, and other pro-arts activities and issues a grade. This is very helpful, but it only provides information about the incumbents and not their rivals. Also, it only provides information for national seats and not state or local seats.
After two days of researching NY candidates' positions; reading their statements, websites and blogs; reviewing questionnaires; scanning newspaper articles and searching countless pieces of key legislature, I was disappointed with my results.
You can check out my findings below. I'll update it over the next few weeks as I uncover more information. And if you know information about where these candidates stand on the arts, please email me [shay at nyitawards dot com] and I will include your insights.
DID YOU KNOW...86% of OOB practitioners voted in the 2004 presidential election. This is 22% higher than the national average of 64%.
Key and notes below
|Party||Name||AFA Grade||Other Information|
|Democratic||Kirsten E. Gillibrand||A+||No official statement|
|Republican||Wendy Long||NI||No official statement|
|Green||Colia Clark||NI||No official statement: Is the Director of Humanism Economy Rights and the Arts and has coordinated arts workshops, has supported arts programs in prisons|
|LBT-Libertarian||Chris Edes||NI||No official statement|
|CSP-Common Sense||John Mangelli||NI||No official statement|
U.S. House of Representatives
|5||Democratic||Gregory W. Meeks||A||80|
|5||Republican||Allan W. Jennings, Jr.||NI||NI|
|5||LBT-Libertarian||Catherine Wark||NI||NI||Is a jewelry artist|
|6||Republican||Daniel J. Halloran||NI||NI|
|6||Green||Evergreen C. Chou||NI||NI|
|7||Democratic||Nydia M. Velazquez||A||80|
|8||Democratic||Hakeem S. Jeffries||NI||NI|
|8||Republican||Alan S. Bellone||NI||NI|
|8||Green||Colin M. Beavan||NI||NI|
|9||Democratic||Yvette D. Clarke||A+||93|
|9||Republican||Daniel J. Cavanagh||NI||NI|
|9||Green||Vivia M. Morgan||NI||NI|
|10||Democratic||Jerrold L. Nadler||A+||108||He lists support for the arts amoung his accomplishments|
|10||Republican||Michael W. Chan||NI||NI|
|11||Democratic||Mark S. Murphy||NI||NI|
|11||Republican||Michael G. Grimm||A||80|
|11||Green||Henry J. Bardel||NI||NI|
|12||Democratic||Carolyn B. Maloney||A+||98|
|12||Republican||Christopher R. Wight||NI||NI|
|13||Democratic||Charles B. Rangel||A+||93|
|13||SOC-Socialist Workers||Deborah O. Liatos||NI||NI|
|14||Republican||William F. Gibbons, Jr.||NI||NI|
|15||Democratic||Jose E. Serrano||A+||90||Official Statement: "Senator Serrano deepened his appreciation for the arts and dedicated himself to using it as a vehicle for education and community empowerment."|
|15||Republican||Frank L. Della Valle||NI||NI|
|16||Democratic||Eliot L. Engel||A+||96|
NY State Senate
|10||Democratic||James Sanders, Jr.|
|11||Republican||Joseph R. Concannon|
|12||Democratic||Michael N. Gianaris|
|12||Republican||Aurelio A. Arcabascio|
|13||Democratic||Jose R. Peralta||Has made it a point to attend many community arts events including: movie nights, arts and crafts events, book fairs, etc.|
|14||Democratic||Malcolm A. Smith|
|15||Democratic||Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.|
|15||Republican||Eric A. Ulrich|
|16||Democratic||Toby Ann Stavisky|
|17||SCP-School Choice||Abraham Tischler|
|18||Democratic||Martin Malave Dilan|
|18||Republican||Michael E. Freeman-Saulsberre|
|19||Democratic||John L. Sampson||Supported "Creative Celebration" that encourages poetry, essays and artwork|
|19||Conservative||Elias J. Weir|
|20||Democratic||Eric Adams||Has shown support for arts exhibits and has served on the Cultural Affairs Committee|
|21||Democratic||Kevin S. Parker|
|22||Democratic||Andrew S. Gounardes|
|22||Republican||Martin J. Golden|
|23||Democratic||Diane J. Savino|
|24||Democratic||Gary W. Carsel|
|24||Republican||Andrew J. Lanza||Has shown support for and helped promote community based arts programs and cultural events.|
|25||Democratic||Velmanette Montgomery||Has helped secure funding for arts programs and has said "arts enhance life quality"|
|25||Republican||John A. Jasilli|
|26||Democratic||Daniel Squadron||Has lent his support to several arts issues including the dissappearance of OOB spaces and the WTC arts center|
|27||Democratic||Brad M. Hoylman|
|28||Republican||David Paul Garland|
|29||Democratic||Jose M. Serrano||Senator Serrano has perhaps done more for the arts in NYS than any other legislator. He heads the Arts Day in Albany events, supports many arts programs, promotes funding for the arts and has served on the Cultural Affairs Committee|
|30||Democratic||Bill Perkins||Hosts "Creative Power of Women" events|
|32||Democratic & Republican||Ruben M. Diaz||Has shown support for arts programs|
|32||Independence||David M. Johnson|
|33||Democratic||J. Gustavo Rivera|
|33||Republican||Michael E. Walters|
|34||Democratic & Republican||Jeffrey D. Klein||Has shown support for the arts, supports NYSCA & has served on the Cultural Affairs Committee|
|36||Democratic||Ruth H. Thompson||Supports the "Arts Alive" project which provides funding to individual artists and new works. Holds and honorary degree in Arts and Sciences|
|36||Conservative||Robert L. Diamond|
Which district are you in? Maps of NY State Districts.
seats translates into nearly a thousand candidates. So I narrowed the list to just
those candidates from the five boroughs. Even that was oppressive so I narrowed
it even further to those candidates running for U.S. Senate and House seats and
those running for State Senate seats. [There is no doubt that NY Assembly
Members deserve our time and respect but there are just too many candidates
vying for those 150 spots, that I could not undertake that much research in the
short amount of time that I have to post this article.] However, if I can find significant information about Assembly Member candidates, I will post them as well.
AFA = Americans for the Arts
NI = a grade and/or score has not issues by Americans for the Arts