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Updated: Conflict Resolved Between Two Mayoral Debates

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Updated 8/28: The Boston mayoral debate has been moved back to 8 p.m. allowing all the candidates in the race to take part in the earlier arts forum scheduled at 6 p.m. They won’t have far to go as both events are on Washington Street, the arts event at the Paramount and the debate cosponsored by the Boston Herald, New England Cable News and Suffolk University at the Modern Theatre, practically next door.

MassCreative responds to the resolution.

Our earlier post:

It looks like we’ll really find out how much the mayoral candidates care about the arts. Seven of the 12 hopefuls to succeed Thomas Menino as mayor of Boston had agreed to take part Sept. 9 on a Create the Vote Forum on the arts — what they do and don’t support going forward.

Joyce Kulhawik (Courtesy of Kulhawik)

Joyce Kulhawik (Courtesy of Kulhawik)

Yesterday, however, Matt Wilson, executive director of MassCreative, a grass roots advocacy group for the arts and organizers of Create the Vote, was informed that a coalition that included New England Cable News, the Boston Herald and Suffolk University would be hosting a mayoral debate on the same night. 
”We are both surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Boston Herald, NECN, and Suffolk University to hold a campaign event that directly conflicts with ours,” said Wilson in a statement. According to one source, candidates were sent an invitation to come to a debate on Sept. 10 and when the consortium was told there was an NAACP event, moved it to Sept. 9.

Wilson told the ARTery that the arts forum, which has been set at the Paramount for over two months, will still go on and expects the candidates to honor their commitments. Marty Walsh and Michael P. Ross announced that they will be at the arts forum. A spokeswoman for the event said that Bill Walczak, Charlotte Golar Richie, John R. Connolly and John Barros have confirmed that they will be at the arts event as well.

Walsh’s statement said, “We would love to be able to participate in ALL of the debates and forums we have been invited to, but we can’t. And we’d really love to participate in all of those that have big media partners and are televised, since it’s important to us that we are able to communicate our message to a wide range of Bostonians. But we honor our commitments. We accepted an invitation to MassCreative’s September 9 forum months ago, and we will be there. We hope the other campaigns will feel as we do”

Wilson added that a representative from the consortium was not impressed that the arts forum had been scheduled months in advance of the proposed debate. “They basically said this is the time we set up to do it and the time we’re going to do it,” said Wilson. (The ARTery has not heard back from representatives of Suffolk, the Herald, or NECN.)

The moderator of the event, Joyce Kulhawik, president of the Boston Theater Critics Assn. and an occasional ARTery contributor, was furious with the consortium’s actions: “This is a truly nasty way to deal with the arts community in this town, and further evidence of the low regard in which we are held in some quarters.”

The candidates obviously have to choose between honoring a commitment to an arts community that many of them have said they want to champion or ceding publicity on NECN to candidates who skip out on the arts forum. Felix G. Arroyo had also committed to the arts forum. Daniel F. Conley and Robert Consalvo had not committed to the arts forum.