When I enter the voting booth, my mind’s eye is flooded with images that feel like a movie trailer. Election lawn signs, TV commercials, and post cards from local candidates float by, along with snippets from recent opinion editorials on issues ranging from local zoning ordinances to gun control, women’s reproductive rights, water quality, and good governance. While these images stream by, it is very likely I already know who I will vote for on November 5.

While there are many public policy issues that are important to quality of life in New Jersey, as an arts professional, I am also very interested in what candidates feel, think, or do with regard to arts and culture. Do they participate in the arts, do they encourage their children to participate, do they attend arts events, donate to nonprofit arts organizations and feel that arts education in important to our future workforce?

For these reasons, I ask that you take a moment to check out responses to ArtPride New Jersey’s Assembly Candidate Survey. We carefully consider what questions are posed to candidates, and their responses provide revealing insight into personal choices made by people who decide to run for public office.

As a New Jersey voter who believes that arts and culture are important to New Jersey’s quality of life, I encourage you to review these thoughtful responses. Sort by legislative district, and see if your candidates believe in the value of art to our lives, or, at the very least, are now considering the arts as part of their platform simply because they were asked the survey questions.

If you do not see a response from a candidate or candidates in your district, there may be several reasons, all of which are worthwhile to consider. Some candidates choose not to respond to surveys – period. If they are incumbents, they may believe their prior voting records stand as evidence of support or not, and speak for themselves. Others may just believe they don’t have time to respond, or that this issue is not important to them.

And, if you are like me, you believe that ALL candidates should consider the arts as a public policy issue because they intersect with other concerns and public policy issues—ranging from the environment to healthcare to education and the economy – then reach out and tell them so!

Please let us know if you find these candidate responses interesting and valuable. If you decide to reach out personally to candidates in your legislative district, and need more information on why art truly does matter, please also take time to visit the newly revamped ArtMattersNJ.org.  There you can learn more about how the arts are making a difference to New Jersey as a whole – to all 21 New Jersey counties, and to YOUR life and the lives of your neighbors, friends, and family.