Local candidates respond to survey regarding government’s role in the arts


With the Aug. 7 primary right around the corner, the Arts Alliance recently released its annual Creative Washtenaw Votes 2018 Primary Survey. The survey includes responses and answers to questions about issues that are important to artists and supporters of the arts from candidates running for mayor to governors and the county commissioner.

Thirty-three candidates running in races at the local, state and national level responded.

The Arts Alliance annually surveys candidates running for office on the ballot in Washtenaw County about their views on the arts & creative industries, specifically as it relates to public policy and investment. All candidate responses and non-responses are released verbatim for publication before the election to the media and The Arts Alliance’s constituents – Washtenaw County residents passionate about the arts and the creative industries.

A survey conducted by The Arts Alliance shows that the public in Washtenaw County values the arts highly (63 percent) and that they believe tax dollars should help support nonprofit arts and cultural programs (89 percent). Currently there are no dedicated tax revenues and very little appropriated investments by county or local municipalities in Washtenaw County.

One of the questions on the survey asked candidates: “What role do you believe elected officials and government agencies should play in leading arts and creative industry development and sustainability in their communities?”

Jack Eaton

Jack Eaton, who is running for mayor of Ann Arbor as a Democrat, stated: “I believe that elected officials and governmental agencies, such as the City of Ann Arbor, should assist in ensuring that local artist have affordable places to create and preform. The City as a governmental entity should identify art that represents the rich history of local political and social activism and the values of the community to add to public spaces for the enjoyment of our residents and visitors. I prefer to engage local artists when selecting what art to purchase and install and which art performances to support. The exception to my local preference is art pieces and performances that express something that adds to the character of our town. The City currently treats art acquisition in a manner that is too commercial, identifying how much to spend rather than which art to purchase. Using a bidding process for art acquisition leads to poor decisions. The City can do a better job of supporting local artists and a better job of selecting art.”

Christopher Taylor

Christopher Taylor, who also is running for mayor as a Democrat, stated: “Elected bodies should have multiple roles in leading arts & create industry development – specifically, they should help to facilitate public-private partnerships, they should act as sponsors and supporters of arts & create events, and they should strive to streamline processes to support creative industry and art development. Further, it is our responsibility to insure that public buildings are designed to a higher standard of beauty.”

Other local candidates who filled out the survey included city council members Ron Ginyard, Jule Grand, Jeff Hayner, Graydon Krapohl, Elizabeth Nelson, Ali Ramlawi, Chuck Warpehoski, Kirk Westphal and Ka’Ron Gaines.

The Arts Alliance continues its efforts to work with members to persuade community leaders, as well as decision and policymakers to invest in and set policies that benefit the arts, creativity, arts education and creative economic development. Getting out to vote is a critical step in that effort!

For the complete survey: https://a3arts.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Aug-2018-Responses.All_.Cities.Washtenaw.ST_.US_.pdf?mc_cid=e3b5623563&mc_eid=fdae9c3320

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