’Why Fund the Arts?’ Joyce Kulhawik Asks the Mayoral Candidates
Anyone that knows Joyce Kulhawik knows her passion for the Boston arts community. She has been a reliable source of information of what’s been worth seeing in the city’s vast cultural lineup as a TV media critic (locally on WBZ-TV and nationally on movie review shows where she appeared with Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert) and on the web (on her website Joyce’s Choices).
Joyce also has tirelessly supported arts organizations from the start of her broadcasting career. One of her first projects at WBZ was the public service campaign "You Gotta Have Arts!" As part of the campaign, Kulhawik hosted the station’s Emmy Award-winning "You Gotta Have Arts!" magazine program during its one year run, as well as three specials, the first of which received an Emmy Award in 1982.
She is a member of both the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and serves as President of the Boston Theater Critics Association, which presents the Elliot Norton Awards each year, celebrating the best work in Boston theater. She has often appeared as a guest narrator with such organizations as the Boston Pops (with Keith Lockhart conducting), the Boston Philharmonic and Boston Musica Viva.
Amongst her numerous accolades was the 2010 Governor’s Award given her in May 2010, at the 33rd National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Boston/New England Emmy Awards Celebration. In giving her the honor, the president of NTA Boston/ New England chapter, Timothy Egan stated, "The National Television Academy’s Boston New England Chapter is pleased to celebrate Joyce Kulhawik’s excellence by awarding her the 2010 Governor’s Award in honor of her legendary journalism and contribution to the arts. Joyce is a trailblazer for women in the business and one of New England’s best known and most talented media professionals."
Recently Kulhawik became involved with the Create the Vote Coalition’s Mayoral Candidate Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity, which she will be moderating on Sep. 9, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, Emerson College, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA.
Mayoral candidates Felix Arroyo, John Barros, Robert Consalvo, John Connolly, Charlotte Golar Richie, Mike Ross, Marty Walsh, and Bill Walczak have confirmed their attendance.
Click here to RSVP if you which to attend the event.
Not that the event hasn’t had its share of drama. Last week the media consortium of The Boston Herald, New England Cable News and Suffolk University scheduled a mayoral debate as the same time as the forum. But within a day, the consortium moved the timing of their debate to 8:00 p.m.
EDGE spoke to Kulhawik about the event, why the arts are so important to the community and what government’s role should be in funding.
EDGE: How did you get involved in the Create the Vote campaign?
Joyce Kulhawik: I learned about Mass Creative, the grassroots organization behind Create The Vote, when they reached out to me online. I immediately set up a meeting with its executive director Matt Wilson. A big dream of mine is to help see Boston recognized as a global mecca for the arts and culture.
That requires organization -- and that is exactly what MassCreative’s mission is -- to organize the cultural community so we can thrive, be heard, and have an impact on the economy, tourism, the very quality of life in Boston and beyond. Our next Mayor is going to have a profound effect on the climate here.
EDGE: Why do you think the arts are so important in the cultural landscape of the city?
Joyce Kulhawik: I have loved this city from the minute I first set foot in it as a college freshman. Over the years, I have come to marvel at the depth and breadth of the arts community here -- the caliber and quantity. Of course, there are world-class institutions like the BSO, the MFA, Boston Ballet -- but if you scratch the surface, you will find hundreds more, worlds within worlds of extraordinary artists and performers.
We have a sprawling network of theater companies -- regional to fringe -- that thrive and continue to pop up. Boston is a center for early music, a breeding ground for jazz and rock n’ roll, we have conservatories full of classically trained musicians and dancers and actors. Movies are being made on our streets, museums are being renovated and expanded, and the comedy scene is thriving.
Why are the arts important? The arts are the way a culture has of talking to itself about who it is and what it values. The arts express our deepest hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, questions -- then reflect that exploration back to us. The arts help us find solutions by imagining them.
The arts help us cultivate our individual voices and in that way breed compassion and respect for diversity. The arts are sometimes the only language that can unlock a person’s truth, the only way someone can express what he or she thinks and feels and share it with the world. Thus, the arts uplift, inspire, provide insight, solutions, joy, and a sense of belonging and community. The arts can speak the unspeakable.
EDGE: In other countries, governmental sponsorship of the arts is far greater. Why do you think it is considered less important in this country?
Joyce Kulhawik: I suspect governmental support of the arts is a lesser priority in the U.S. because of our very pragmatic, independent, democratic, and brief history. We are a relatively young country, focused on quick, short-term results: Very "can do," practical, obvious shock and awe. Every man for himself. Hence, we are the world’s biggest purveyors of "pop" culture. We’re kind of like teenagers as a culture -- and teenage brains aren’t fully formed! But the artists among us will out, and as they share their talent, we will come to appreciate their deeper, more satisfying gifts.
EDGE: In this time of shrinking budgets and lower tax revenues, why should a candidate propose putting money towards the arts?
Joyce Kulhawik: I am not so naive as to think all politicians will support art for art’s sake. But I certainly think we can appeal to their pragmatism. In addition to all the ways in which the arts "humanize" us, the arts do boost the economy. I think we are so culture rich in Boston that our institutions and artists are in constant competition with each other for audiences. Thus, I think we should be marketing globally to bring more people here, and fuel the economic engine of this growing, historic, and increasingly beautiful and sophisticated city.
EDGE: There was a snafu over scheduling a mayor’s debate concurrent with your event. Happily, it was resolved. Do you think that the scheduling of the event opposite this one is indicative of the attitude that the arts are less important than other civic issues?
Joyce Kulhawik: As for the Boston Media Consortium’s attempt to ride roughshod over the arts community? It was a move that revealed not only their lack of respect for the creative community, but also a misunderstanding of their proper role -- which is to report on the agenda, not set it. They could have come to the organizers of the Create the Vote Mayoral Forum on the Arts as soon as they saw the conflict and worked it out. Instead, they arrogantly moved ahead, and underestimated the integrity of the candidates and the arts community’s commitment in the process.
The Create the Vote Coalition’s Mayoral Candidate Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity, moderated by Joyce Kulhawik takes place on Sep. 9, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, Emerson College, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA. There will a reception at 5:00 p.m. Click here to RSVP if you which to attend the event.
For more on Joyce Kulhawik, visit her website, Joyce’s Choices