Congressman Jim Langevin represents Rhode Island’s second district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected to this office in 2000, and serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security. He is also a member of the Congressional Arts Caucus. We asked him a few questions about his life and interest in the arts in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.
RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?
Congressman Langevin: I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Rhode Island. I feel very fortunate to live here surrounded by friends and family while having the honor of representing our state in Congress.
RISCA: What do you love about the arts in Rhode Island, and what do you think the arts contribute to life here in our state?
Congressman Langevin: Rhode Island’s local arts community has both a rich history and a promising future. Our arts community is unique and vibrant, and it draws visitors from around the world. The arts are a key economic driver for our state and are an important part of our state’s culture.
RISCA: What role do you think the arts play in addressing public policy priorities both in Rhode Island and nationally?
Congressman Langevin: Rhode Island has a national reputation for leadership in the arts, and I get questions from my colleagues like this. I have three answers I normally give. First, people greatly underestimate the economic impact the arts have. Nationally, the nonprofit arts industry generates more than $150 billion in economic activity each year, and it directly supports thousands of jobs in Rhode Island. Second, incorporating the arts into other disciplines can greatly enhance their effectiveness. I am a champion of the STEM to STEAM movement in Congress because I recognize that art and design are vital tools for our next generation of engineers. I have also seen the amazing power of art therapy in helping to heal the psychological wounds of our war veterans. Finally, the arts build communities. When people gather at the Steel Yard, the Manton Avenue Project or the Tomaquag Museum, they are forging lasting connections with their neighbors.
RISCA: What advice would you give Rhode Islanders interested in advocating in support of the arts on a national level?
Congressman Langevin: I encourage all Rhode Islanders to stay civically engaged! This includes calling your elected officials when a key vote is coming up, getting involved with local arts organizations, and staying informed about policies that affect the arts community. Never be afraid to speak out.
RISCA: What do you want the Rhode Island arts community to know about the services your office provides and what assistance is available to them?
Congressman Langevin: My office is a great resource for the arts community. We can help constituents correspond with federal agencies and make connections to local and state organizations. We also have a grants coordinator who tracks various federal funding opportunities that local artists can take advantage of. Rhode Islanders should feel free to call my office at (401) 732-9400 with questions or if I can ever be of assistance.