On Tues., Sept. 3, my ArtsEdTechNYC meetup group held its monthly gathering, hosted by the Centre for Social Innovation in New York City. Tech entrepreneur and independent NYC mayoral candidate Jack Hidary was the guest, and about 40 people representing the arts, education and technology sectors gathered to listen to an extensive, hourlong, up-close-and-personal conversation with Hidary, moderated by yours truly. We covered, among other things, how the next mayor could fund the arts more effectively and, equally important, how to make our school system more fair and innovative.
As the mayoral season in New York City shifts into high gear — the primaries for the Republican and Democratic nominations is set for next Tues., Sept. 10 — Hidary spoke about the “circus” that the race has become. He also cited his intentional and maybe unusual under-the-radar campaign strategy. I was impressed with how fast Hidary took a question and ran with it, making my job as moderator fairly easy. This guy has a lot of energy!
You could sense Hidary’s passion for education instantly as he lit up and gestured wildly, describing a recent visit to the Museum of Mathematics (or “Mo Math”), where he watched kids participate in a giant Dance, Dance Revolution-style mat that incorporates math concepts with movement. His excitement when speaking about integrating the arts with STEM curricular concepts was also palpable. He talked of how learning skills like creativity and innovation through the arts enhances a student’s chances of getting hired for jobs after graduation — jobs for which such skills are desperately needed. He’s got some interesting thoughts about co-working spaces for artists and perhaps a new business model for arts nonprofits that might bring about a complete mind-shift — for the better.
But most of all, Hidary’s “jobs and education” platform kept coming up. He’s got some outside-the-box concepts, like using air rights over buildings owned by the Department of Education to leverage millions more for the system. His perspective on the role of technology in a Hidary administration (check out his hybrid taxi initiative) is compelling. Of course, the chance that this independent candidate from Coney Island will become the next mayor of New York appears slim. But as those of us who live here and follow City politics know all too well, anything is possible — and the race isn’t over until Tues., Nov. 5. However quixotic his campaign may be, Hidary possesses an alternative voice that all New Yorkers should hear.If you don’t know Jack, please watch this ArtsEdTechNYC interview: