BRISTOL, R.I.__ With the Rhode Island November 4th General Elections a mere days away, a number of ballot questions are taking center stage. Among these issues is Proposition Five, an authorization for the state to borrow $35 million to support the construction and improvements of arts facilities in the state. This proposition would create a projected 1200 jobs, a boost to Rhode Island’s lackluster economy.
“In Cranston I’ve been a strong supporter of the arts, particularly with respect to the Park Theater,” said current Mayor of Cranston and Republican candidate for Governor of Rhode Island, Allan Fung, “We were able to take that old theater, revitalize it, and you know, make it a great part of our economy. I think a lot of towns, cities and towns across the country have these little historic jewels that can be revitalized, that could be a hub for economic activity, just like what we’ve done with the Park Theater.”
Though the recession is five years out, the Ocean State has yet to fully recover. The unemployment rate remains at a staggering 7.7 percent. In a struggling economy, the arts and culture are one of the first to receive government budget cuts.
The 2nd Story Theatre, a small art house in Warren, is one of seven major members of the movement to support art by urging voters to select ‘yes’ on question five.
“Owning a facility gives you permanence, and so that’s something Question five will do, strengthen facilities and facilities strengthen nonprofit arts organizations,” said Lynn Collinson, the Director of Warren’s 2nd Story Theatre, “I’m passionate about Prop five because I know for 2nd Story Theatre, owning this building has been key to our permanence. We welcome everyone, we are able to stay here, keep our prices stable, diversify our audience, build the local economy, yet know that we remain as a part of that economy.”
Rhode Island’s arts and culture have grown over the years. As of late, a point of pride for the Ocean State remains WaterFire, a community arts event that draws a global audience.
“Arts and culture means people have an opportunity to escape the daily burdens of everyday life,” said Krissy Jenks, a Roger Williams University theater major, “I think that if people vote yes on question five, it absolutely will become a state of the arts.”