NwaSoul, with Tricia Reed singing, performs May 19 at Starlight Square. The outdoor entertainment complex helped keep arts organizations working during the pandemic. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The health of Cambridge’s arts and culture is becoming a campaign issue, with leaders at the The Brattle Theatre, Central Square Theater, CCTV, Dance Complex, José Mateo Ballet Theatre and more forming a Create the Vote Cambridge 2021 Committee and holding a City Council candidate forum from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“We see this as a first step in establishing strong arts and culture advocacy – it’s just the beginning of a larger effort,” Catherine Carr Kelly, executive director of the Central Square Theater, said Friday.

The arts and culture sector is a major driver of the Cambridge economy. A report assessing the sector in 2017 found it worth roughly $175 million a year in Cambridge – supporting more than 6,000 jobs and contributing more than $13 million in local and state government revenue. But that was before the Covid-19 pandemic, which the new coalition says has “significantly impacted individual artists, cultural workers and arts organizations in Cambridge.”

The coalition wants buy-in from council candidates on the importance of the arts, asking “do you agree” questions about such things as the need to integrate arts and cultural recovery into municipal economic development plans, put $20 million over the next two years into the sector’s Covid recovery and resilience and commit more city money to the Cambridge Arts agency.

There are 11 council candidates who have RSVP’d, and more are expected to join, Kelly said Friday. Their written responses and the Create the Vote Arts and Culture platform will be added to the MassCreative website.

The online forum will be moderated by Marissa Molinar, of the Midday Movement dance education organization. It will have closed captioning and ASL interpretation, organizers said.

To register for the forum, go to bit.ly/Create-The-Vote-Cambridge.

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