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Which Boston mayoral candidate has an arts policy?

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I just got off the phone with Kathy Bitetti, who called to tell me about some big moves involving the national debate around health care, and what artists have done here in Massachusetts. She will have a column for us in an upcoming issue.

During the conversation, she reminded me that there is a mayoral election coming up, and prompted me to check out the arts policies of the four candidates: Tom Menino, Sam Yoon, Michael Flaherty and Kevin McCrea.

Menino, the sitting mayor and longest-serving mayor in Boston history, does not include any arts policy (usually referred to as "the creative economy" in politi-speak) on his website. However, Menino's record does include the creation of a Department of Arts and Cultural Development, which has made a visible impact.

Michael Flaherty is the only candidate whose website includes a section on growing the creative economy. You can read the full text here (pdf). It says, in part:

As we plot careful steps to navigate ourselves through these challenging economic times, the city of Boston must think strategically and holistically about the direction it wants to pursue to put itself back on strong financial and globally competitive grounds. We would be remiss not to consider the emerging role that the creative economy is playing in economic growth - both in other U.S. cities, as well as cities and countries abroad.

Neither Sam Yoon nor Kevin McCrea address the creative economy on their websites. Both candidates, however, promote lengthy lists of changes to the education system, which include arts education.

Big RED & Shiny does not endorse or promote any particular candidate for mayor, but we urge everyone to consider each candidate's position on the creative economy among the many issues that go into choosing a mayor.

I have sent emails to all four candidates asking them to specify their arts policies, and will post any responses here.

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About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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