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Senatorial and Gubernatorial Candidates' Positions on Arts and Culture

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance partnered with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and Citizens for the Arts Pennsylvania to send questions pertaining to arts and culture across the state of Pennsylvania to senatorial candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz as well as gubernatorial candidates Josh Shapiro and Doug Mastriano. As a collective, we asked each candidate to respond based on their own knowledge of the issues pertaining to arts and culture in the state of Pennsylvania.

Only John Fetterman responded by the time we went to press; his answers are below.

What role do you see for arts & culture in Pennsylvania’s economic and community development?

Fetterman: Arts and culture are integral to the wellbeing of a community. In many communities across Pennsylvania, the arts and culture are responsible for job opportunities and economic stimulation through tourism and consumer purchases.

There hasn't been an increase to the state budget “grants to arts and culture” line item since FY2016, and the current funding level is still just 62% of what it was at its height in FY 2002; would you support an increase for grants to arts and culture?

Fetterman: The arts and culture are extremely important and I believe that we should increase grant funding.

Arts and culture are vital components in building the solutions that will strengthen our neighborhoods, engage and educate our youth, increase our economic competitiveness, and retain our businesses and residents. In what ways would you leverage artists and arts organizations to address your priorities for the state of Pennsylvania? Similarly, how will you support arts and culture organizations and artists in Pennsylvania?

Fetterman: I believe that the arts will be instrumental in building and rebuilding communities all around Pennsylvania. If I were in the Senate, I would work closely with arts and culture organizations to find ways to help our communities thrive.

Arts and culture are an essential component of a well-rounded education and developing active, engaged citizens in our state. In what way would you support arts education as governor (or senator)?

Fetterman: The arts are extremely valuable in shaping young minds by promoting expression, creativity, and teaching new skills. For years, school boards looking to make cuts have gone directly at the arts programs, cutting dance, music, visual arts, theater, and other programs from their curriculums first. If I were in the Senate, I would fight for increased education funding so that schools won’t have to decide between updated textbooks or the arts.

Cultural districts support thriving economies and build community through diversity, education, and enjoyment of the arts. The impact of cultural districts can be felt across adjacent industries such as restaurants, parking, and shops. How will you support and foster the targeted growth of cultural districts across the state of Pennsylvania?

Fetterman: We have to make our communities more arts and culture friendly. That means working with culture and arts groups and programs to increase their visibility and accessibility. It also means increased funding for organizations looking to bring their business to our communities.

What is your favorite memory of an arts & culture experience in Pennsylvania?

Fetterman: My favorite memory would have to be Swoon’s first art studio gallery, which happened in my family’s garage in our home.