United Arts of Central Florida conducted a survey to provide voters with the candidates' positions about arts and culture on four different topics.
Do you value arts and culture as an economic and workforce development driver?
Yes, I value arts and culture as an economic and workforce development driver both in Orange County and beyond. As a tourism and hospitality UCF professor, I am well aware of the socio economic benefits that arts and culture brings to a destination’s attraction portfolio as well as to the wellbeing of the local residents residing within tourism destinations. A primary research area of mine has been the economic impact of cultural tourism and arts. I have long advocated for the investment of tourist development taxes as a funding mechanism to ensure the longevity of arts and culture within Orange County. I believe that sustaining the arts and culture within Orange County is an especially critical component of our residents’ wellbeing. Arts and culture add a depth to our community that helps to unite residents. Given the overwhelming success of our tourism industry in Orange County, our destination product portfolio has become highly commercialized. This results in locals losing their sense of community culture and place. Sustaining culture and arts provides a means to express our community values, to elevate our sense of community belonging, and brings people together.
2. Would you advocate for tourism marketing agencies to commit a portion of marketing expenses specifically for arts and culture?
Absolutely. Yes, I advocate for tourism marketing agencies to commit a portion of marketing expenses specifically for arts and culture. As a tourism and hospitality UCF professor, I research the value that arts and culture bring to a destination in terms of increased tourist receipts. Tourists inherently are in search of some form of cultural interplay between residents and themselves. These experiences enrich the tourists' perception and their likelihood to revisit a destination. We know from research that not only do cultural tourists spend more on average than other tourist segments, but we also know that repeat visitors spend more than first time visitors. From this perspective, it means that other tourism businesses are benefitting from a rich and culturally diverse art destination. However, the arts and cultural organizations do not receive a sustainable cut of the tourism marketing dollars like other commercialized attractions. Further, the constant pressure of a community hosting large number of tourists leaves a residual depletion of culture and arts in the local community. Arts and culture are a valuable community asset and contribute to our residents’ wellbeing. Therefore, I support re-investing back into the culture and art organizations both to benefit the tourism industry as well as our local residents.
3. Will you continue to support, preserve and grow existing County arts funding mechanisms?
Absolutely. As mayor, I will continue to support, preserve, and grow existing County arts permanent funding mechanisms. From my experience in working with cultural tourism and art organizations, I have identified several general areas where a permanent funding mechanism is required to ensure continued success of cultural and art organizations: 1) raise money for facilities, 2) pay for programs, 3) raise awareness of the arts and culture through PR and advertising efforts, 4) to develop emergency funds (e.g., impact of COVID on the arts industry), and 5) to close deficits. I look forward to the opportunity to thinking creatively and facilitating the use of Orange County being the number one tourist destination in the USA to help grow existing funds for arts and culture.
4. Will you consider supporting new initiatives and investments in response to the findings of the County's Cultural Plan (could possibly include but not limited to: Divesifying arts and culture, new funding streams, and incubators for emerging diverse arts businesses)?
I will support new initiatives and investments in response to the findings of the County's Cultural Plan, which could potentially include but is not limited to diversifying arts and culture, new funding streams, and incubators for emerging diverse art businesses. I believe our arts and culture programs are underfunded in Orange County. This is to the detriment of our local community. If Orange County has a goal to position Central Florida as a world cultural capital, then the investment made into programs and organizations that could help realize this ambitious goal is necessary. In addition to financial investment to secure success of achieving the goal to be a world cultural capital, investments will need to be made in the organizational process of how this goal can be achieved. This will require the investment of time and human capital. As mayor, I am prepared to make those investments.