Candidates for North Carolina Senate

Each candidate was provided a questionnaire to complete and share their position on arts and culture. Below are the responses we received. Responses are posted verbatim.

 

Natasha Marcus

2018 Candidate for NC Senate, District 41

Please share a meaningful experience you have had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history and its impact on you.
I have loved the arts my entire life.  I was a dancer from age 4 through college and did musical theatre and played in the band in school as well.  I am fortunate to have two daughters who also love the arts. My older daughter is a dancer and violinist.  My younger daughter is a songwriter, singer and actress.  They are both taking dance and theatre classes in college now.  Some of my favorite moments have been watching them perform.  I can’t possibly choose one moment, but have been moved to tears many times by the passion and talent I see in my children and the ensembles of which they have been a part.  We all love theatre and get tickets to shows as often as possible, from high school shows, to community theatre, to the Blumenthal, to Broadway.  It’s a big part of our family’s best experiences.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity.
Will you support legislation that requires students between grade 6 and grade 12 to complete one arts credit (music, visual art, theatre, dance)? Please explain.
Arts education is essential to a well-rounded education and important to spark creativity and innovation in students’ minds.  The skill of reading music helps math comprehension.  Theater helps with reading comprehension.  So it is all related and critical to good education. I believe all students should have at least one arts credit, so they can discover their passions and talents.  As long as it was not an unfunded mandate, I would support legislation to ensure all students take an arts class.

According to the most recent Arts & Economic Impact Study, North Carolina’s nonprofit cultural community generated $2.1 million in economic activity during fiscal year 2015. This activity provides over $201 million in tax revenues for local and state governments and supports 72,000 NC jobs.
How will you promote the NC non-profit cultural sectors as part of the State’s economic development strategy?
The arts bring both positive social and economic impact, and continue to have a powerful effect across all communities in North Carolina.  I know that one of the big draws to Charlotte is the arts scene here — including the Broadway Lights Series at the Blumenthal, the smaller theatres around the county, the art museums, the concerts, the Charlotte Ballet, and so much more.  Patrons spend money on tickets, dinner, parking, hotels, and more.  Also, the arts start important conversations, bring people together, open minds, and foster understanding of our fellow human beings. There is a great rate of return on the investment the state puts into the arts. I would support the continuation of appropriating funds for art grants as well as exploring opportunities to expand access to the arts that promotes art education.

Funding from the North Carolina Legislature supports important arts programming in Mecklenburg County. In FY17, funds distributed by the North Carolina Arts Council provided close to $1 million in support of organizations such as the Charlotte Symphony, Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, Community School of the Arts, Charlotte Ballet and Children’s Theatre, as well as funding that supported project and operating support grants awarded by ASC throughout Mecklenburg County. Currently, North Carolina invests less than $0.63 per person in arts grants.
How will you support increasing arts grants to be equal to $1 per citizen to create positive outcomes for North Carolina? What leadership will you provide to set a per capita level of funding for statewide initiatives such as this?
I support art grants and am open to hearing about how and whether we should increase the grants beyond 63 cents per person and/or change the way the money is distributed.  Without seeing a comprehensive budget and the details of how the funding would be distributed, I cannot commit at this time to a certain dollar amount or a set distribution model.


Jeff Jackson

2018 candidate for NC Senate, District 37

Please share a meaningful experience you have had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history and its impact on you.
I visited Studio 345 two years ago and it was tremendous. Spoke to several students. It left a significant impression.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity.
Will you support legislation that requires students between grade 6 and grade 12 to complete one arts credit (music, visual art, theatre, dance)? Please explain.
Absolutely. Rep. Becky Carney has been the champion here and I support her efforts.

According to the most recent Arts & Economic Impact Study, North Carolina’s nonprofit cultural community generated $2.1 million in economic activity during fiscal year 2015. This activity provides over $201 million in tax revenues for local and state governments and supports 72,000 NC jobs.
How will you promote the NC non-profit cultural sectors as part of the State’s economic development strategy?
You have to build cultural spending into the capital budget. There has to be an up-front understanding that this will be a component of any significant project.

Funding from the North Carolina Legislature supports important arts programming in Mecklenburg County. In FY17, funds distributed by the North Carolina Arts Council provided close to $1 million in support of organizations such as the Charlotte Symphony, Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, Community School of the Arts, Charlotte Ballet and Children’s Theatre, as well as funding that supported project and operating support grants awarded by ASC throughout Mecklenburg County. Currently, North Carolina invests less than $0.63 per person in arts grants.
How will you support increasing arts grants to be equal to $1 per citizen to create positive outcomes for North Carolina? What leadership will you provide to set a per capita level of funding for statewide initiatives such as this?
I think that’s a reasonable goal. I would support indexing that funding to keep up with population.


Joyce Waddell

2018 candidate for NC Senate, District 40

Please share a meaningful experience you have had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history and its impact on you.
I attended the performances by students at Spirit Square, and I was much impressed with the work that they showed from their experiences in the art programs.  I shared this with others as I visited classrooms throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity.
Will you support legislation that requires students between grade 6 and grade 12 to complete one arts credit (music, visual art, theatre, dance)? Please explain.
I will support innovative programs and policies that implement creativity in schools. Statistics show that an arts education improves student performance in reading and math achievement. Students will be trained as leaders in the global economy while developing creative thinking and communication skills. Arts education increases the retention of students and creates a positive school environment.

According to the most recent Arts & Economic Impact Study, North Carolina’s nonprofit cultural community generated $2.1 million in economic activity during fiscal year 2015. This activity provides over $201 million in tax revenues for local and state governments and supports 72,000 NC jobs.
How will you promote the NC non-profit cultural sectors as part of the State’s economic development strategy?
The arts organizations stimulate business development and allow citizens to experience the cultural and educational benefits of arts. The arts infrastructure is a great prosperity generator that can revitalize communities struggling with poverty. I will continue to support public funding for emerging arts and cultural organizations to encourage entrepreneurial business practices, public and private investment, and a creative workforce.

Funding from the North Carolina Legislature supports important arts programming in Mecklenburg County. In FY17, funds distributed by the North Carolina Arts Council provided close to $1 million in support of organizations such as the Charlotte Symphony, Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, Community School of the Arts, Charlotte Ballet and Children’s Theatre, as well as funding that supported project and operating support grants awarded by ASC throughout Mecklenburg County. Currently, North Carolina invests less than $0.63 per person in arts grants.
How will you support increasing arts grants to be equal to $1 per citizen to create positive outcomes for North Carolina? What leadership will you provide to set a per capita level of funding for statewide initiatives such as this?
The arts sector creates a positive impact on our state’s economic development. The arts lead to new job opportunities and generates sales revenue in the local government and state. Talented workers and entrepreneurs contribute to the state’s economy by attracting tourism and consumer spending. North Carolina should continue to sustain public and private partnerships that create a vibrant arts infrastructure and lead our state to economic prosperity. There must be a continuous review of our state’s standards and regulations to protect the health of our business environment. To maintain a business-friendly atmosphere, we must assess the state’s cultural needs and ensure citizens receive fair access to arts resources.


Nora Trotman

2018 candidate for NC Senate, District 37

Please share a meaningful experience you have had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history and its impact on you.

When I was growing up, the annual science fair made everything I’d been learning in the classroom come to life. I remember conducting the experiments each year with my mother, who is a public school teacher, and my younger sister. The entire process from beginning to end was truly a family affair. Having the opportunity to experiment and form my own hypotheses left a lasting impression on how I see the world. I credit my continuous search for progress to both Freeport Elementary School science fairs and teachers.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity.
Will you support legislation that requires students between grade 6 and grade 12 to complete one arts credit (music, visual art, theatre, dance)? Please explain.
Yes. Similar to my experiences with the science fair, my grade school art teacher – lovingly called Mrs. Art – showed me how creativity and the arts are critical in understanding our past. I have found that some of the moments in which I learned the most were not in traditional courses, but rather in electives and extracurricular programming. To accommodate all schools in North Carolina, this requirement can be expanded to different topics such as art history, graphic design and computer coding. These classes can also be responsible for incorporating their work into the community to demonstrate the impact art classes have on young people.

According to the most recent Arts & Economic Impact Study, North Carolina’s nonprofit cultural community generated $2.1 million in economic activity during fiscal year 2015. This activity provides over $201 million in tax revenues for local and state governments and supports 72,000 NC jobs.
How will you promote the NC non-profit cultural sectors as part of the State’s economic development strategy?

As part of the General Assembly, I will work to incorporate the arts in our economic development strategy through education. To begin, a statewide educational campaign is needed to bring this information to the masses. Continued growth and sustained success of the non-profit cultural sector depends on delivering the information to North Carolinians. I will also commit to working with senior members of the state senate to bring these programs to the forefront of future economic development plans.

Funding from the North Carolina Legislature supports important arts programming in Mecklenburg County. In FY17, funds distributed by the North Carolina Arts Council provided close to $1 million in support of organizations such as the Charlotte Symphony, Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, Community School of the Arts, Charlotte Ballet and Children’s Theatre, as well as funding that supported project and operating support grants awarded by ASC throughout Mecklenburg County. Currently, North Carolina invests less than $0.63 per person in arts grants.
How will you support increasing arts grants to be equal to $1 per citizen to create positive outcomes for North Carolina? What leadership will you provide to set a per capita level of funding for statewide initiatives such as this?
For arts grants funding to be equal to $1 per citizen, a massive increase in spending would have to occur. This model would favor densely populated areas in the state with a higher concentration of wealth. As a responsible steward of taxpayer money, I would like spending on arts programming to serve as a connection between our urban and rural communities.


Mujtaba A. Mohammed

2018 candidate for NC Senate, District 38

Please share a meaningful experience you have had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), sciences or history and its impact on you.
I am a proud son of immigrant parents from India. India is widely known across the globe for their Hindi movie industry, popularly known as “Bollywood” and the industry regularly highlights India’s rich cultural history of music, arts, and fashion. Growing up in the Carolinas my parents often went to the local Indian store and rented Bollywood films. Almost every Bollywood film is a musical; includes dance, song, and drama. My experiences as a child watching Bollywood films exposed me to a rich cultural scene and helped me appreciate the diversity and talent that can exist in the arts.

Research has shown that arts education positively affects achievement, discipline, attendance, and graduation rates. Business leaders have indicated that North Carolina’s economy needs a workforce that is not only educated but able to excel in 21st century skills, including innovation and creativity.
Will you support legislation that requires students between grade 6 and grade 12 to complete one arts credit (music, visual art, theatre, dance)? Please explain.
Yes. As a former staff attorney at Council for Children’s Rights, I routinely advocated for our youth entering the criminal justice system through the school-to-prison pipeline to get involved in a prosocial activity that made a positive long-term impact on their lives. Thankfully, several of the children I represented found refuge in the Art & Science Council’s Studio 345 program. The program often inspired the children served through Studio 345 to further pursue their newly discovered interest in the arts beyond the program and into a future career. The experience of witnessing a spark in a child’s career and developmental interests through that opportunity has made me a firmer believer in the importance of ensuring all children are exposed to the arts between grades 6 and 12. In addition, the uptick of focus on STEM programming evidence suggests increased positive outcomes for students when science-based programming is enhanced in coordination with the arts, also known as STEAM. As your next state senator, I am committed to restoring North Carolina’s public schools to their rightful place as a beacon of hope with well-rounded educational experiences for our students to ensure they are prepared for a global economy.

According to the most recent Arts & Economic Impact Study, North Carolina’s nonprofit cultural community generated $2.1 million in economic activity during fiscal year 2015. This activity provides over $201 million in tax revenues for local and state governments and supports 72,000 NC jobs.
How will you promote the NC non-profit cultural sectors as part of the State’s economic development strategy?
As a public interest attorney, I have always seen value in non-profit organizations because of their commitment to serving people and ability to close service gaps in our community. I can never express my appreciation enough to local non-profit organizations that help me provide holistic representation to underprivileged clients through assistance with housing, substance abuse, and job training services. I often spend time educating citizens in our community about several non-profit organizations we are blessed to have in Charlotte and I am always surprised to hear from people that they never knew about the organization or the service they provided to our community. Similarly, non-profit cultural sectors are unsung heroes too due to the lack of recognition they receive for the economic stimulus they provide to local and state economies. As your next state senator, I believe we must promote North Carolina’s non-profit cultural sectors by changing the perception of non-profits as “charity” programs and instead recognize their return on investment for the service they provide within our communities. We can only begin to change perceptions by highlighting non-profit cultural sectors for creating prosperous communities to business and local and state leaders. I am committed to creating increased job growth and enhancing the quality of life in local communities across North Carolina by working with my colleagues in the legislature to increase support for North Carolina’s Art Council through grant funding to help further promote, support, and expand non-profit cultural sectors.

Funding from the North Carolina Legislature supports important arts programming in Mecklenburg County. In FY17, funds distributed by the North Carolina Arts Council provided close to $1 million in support of organizations such as the Charlotte Symphony, Mint Museum, Opera Carolina, Community School of the Arts, Charlotte Ballet and Children’s Theatre, as well as funding that supported project and operating support grants awarded by ASC throughout Mecklenburg County. Currently, North Carolina invests less than $0.63 per person in arts grants.
How will you support increasing arts grants to be equal to $1 per citizen to create positive outcomes for North Carolina? What leadership will you provide to set a per capita level of funding for statewide initiatives such as this?
As your next state senator, I will work with our Mecklenburg County Delegation to increase funding for the arts, but I also believe we need increase awareness and access and remove barriers like the entertainment tax from this sector of our economy. Moreover, our commitment to the arts cannot begin and end at the legislature. That is why we’ve fostered relationships with our city council and county commission to work together to bridge the funding gap and increase access to the arts.


The following candidates for North Carolina Senate did not submit a response:
Stuart Andrew Collins, Constitution Party, District 37
Richard Rivette, Republican, District 38
Chad Stachowicz, Democrat, District 39
Dan Bishop, Republican, District 39
Bobbie Shields, Republican, District 40
Jeff Tarte, Republican, District 41

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