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At Your Service: Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grants 2014

Funded by the City of Hartford and managed by the Arts Council since 2009, The Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grants supports arts and heritage programming and projects that generate or retain jobs, support local business and drive economic activity. Since its inception the Jobs Grant program has retained more than 30 jobs, expanded more than 45, created over 650 (FT, PT and Temp), added over 170 youth employment positions and resulted in more than 5.5 million in visitor audience spending. In 2011 it became a national model for using the arts to impact the local economy, winning the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award.
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The ART of Affordable Care

Health Insurance. Everyone needs it, but most don’t fully understand it. (Myself included!) In March 2010 the Affordable Care Act was passed into law, which put into place comprehensive health insurance reforms. With the open enrollment period lasting from October 2013 through March 31, 2014 and coverage beginning as early as January 2014, there has definitely been no shortage of questions and concerns.

To help shed some light on the subject and share how artists can take advantage of new coverage, the Greater Hartford Arts Council put together The ART of Affordable Care. These free workshops provided basic facts about what the Affordable Care Act and Connecticut’s new insurance marketplace means for individuals and small businesses, especially artists and all those in the creative sector in our region.  Read more

The Gift of Giving Tuesday

Remember being a kid?

Remember when the holidays seemed, like, a million years away? And when you’re all grown up all of a sudden it’s BAM. They’re here?

Well the other day we were going over the staff calendar and realized BAM. Thanksgiving was just around the corner! We started prepping and planning our end of year giving strategy. Many of our donors like to make their gifts as the calendar draws to a close; it is, after all, a season of giving. Giving thanks, giving gifts, giving back.

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“We’re All In This Together”: Collaboration through Hartford Events Grants

Live together, die alone.” Although a bit hyperbolic, this phrase from the hit television show Lost more popularly, though more roughly reiterates another common saying that has emerged from the arts and cultural community throughout Greater Hartford—“We’re all in this together.” Now more than ever, our local organizations are working with one another to ensure that our culture—one of the region’s most important and valuable assets—sticks around for generations to come. That’s why I’m very excited that our latest round of Hartford Events Grants includes unique collaborations that provide truly dynamic, multidisciplinary projects for the public to experience multiple forms of art at one event.

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Funding to ‘Drive’ Arts Innovation

Over the last two years I’ve been analyzing the Arts Council’s overall investment strategy and considering ways our organization can provide the most meaningful support to cultural organizations in the Capitol region while also fostering growth of new organizations. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ research shows that the types of financial support that are most associated with long-term nonprofit success are:

  • General Operating Support
  • Multiyear Support
  • Capacity-Building Support

While the Arts Council has been offering General Operating Support grants since its inception in 1971, there are a number of organizations that don’t meet the program’s eligibility requirements and deserve meaningful support to increase their operational effectiveness.

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The Story of PARK(ing) Day

Like all great stories, this one starts with a great idea. But not my idea—Liz’s idea. She came across PARK(ing) Day and thought it would be a cool project for us. I agreed.

Turns out, it wasn’t Liz’s idea either. Erin and Jordan, both with the Hartford Business Improvement District (and, tried launching PARK(ing) Day last year. They hit a couple roadblocks, and the idea just didn’t gain traction. But they were totally game to try again.

Ryan at Knox, Inc., the local parks nonprofit, loved the idea. He’s game for almost anything park-related. Together, we were going to turn this idea into a reality. An amazing, one-day event to take back the city by turning metered parking spaces into temporary, artist-envisioned pop-up parks.

I wish we could take credit for PARK(ing) Day, but it wasn’t our idea at all. It’s an eight-year-old global movement, begun by San Francisco’s Rebar Group in 2005, celebrated in 170 cities and more than 60 countries across the world. We’re just a little late to the game. But we figured: better late than never. And to beat this “game” metaphor to death, we decided to hit Hartford’s first celebration out of the “park.” Pun very much intended.

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Spotlight On: Studio SnapShots!

NeighborhoodStudiosIconAlthough Neighborhood Studios ended its fifteenth summer last Friday, we couldn’t help but share with you one last report on these amazing, innovative and creative Greater Hartford teens.

Last Monday all five of our Neighborhood Studios came together at the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Hartford Public Library for the first ever Studio SnapShots!  In order to give all 68 apprentices a chance to see inside each of the five studios, we thought what better way than for all apprentices to share with each other!  Over the course of the summer, each Studio worked together to create a ten minute presentation of their summer Studio experience.  We left the guidelines wide open in terms of format—encouraging teamwork and creativity!

As a paid apprenticeship program, Neighborhood Studios is not only about learning an art, but also about empowering students with the necessary professional skills needed as they set off for college, internships and their next job.  The Career Skills sessions accomplished this in a variety of ways including learning to write a resume, practicing the art of communication and networking, and preparing for the financial reality of going to college and managing your money.  Beyond these tangible skills, today’s workforce requires the softer skills of creative problem solving, collaboration and civic responsibility. Read more

Spotlight On: Real Art Ways’ Eye On Video

NeighborhoodStudiosIconOur final stop on this summer’s Neighborhood Studios tour lands us at Real Art Ways’ Eye On Video Studio located in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood.  Working in the realm of filmmaking, ten apprentices have self-identified their own creative goals for the summer while simultaneously completing individual and collaborative assignments, acquiring technical skills and dabbling in film theory.  With an eye towards their showcase this Thursday, these apprentices have set their sights and ears on their culminating work, a film festival to highlight their music videos.

Erika Van Natta, Master Teaching Artist, has led the Eye On Video Studio for the eight years that Real Art Ways has been a Neighborhood Studios partner.  Between plotting video scavenger hunts and fostering creative problem solving, Erika sat down to share with us just how she guides these young filmmakers through their summer apprenticeships.

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Funding Vibrant Communities: Neighborhood Arts & Heritage Grants 2013

We recently announced the recipients of our Neighborhood Arts and Heritage grants—grants that provide funding for projects and programs throughout our 34-town service area.  Recipient organizations use arts and heritage to enhance a vibrant local community and enrich the quality of life for its residents and visitors.

Funding for these grants comes from the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign, and the United Way Community Campaign.  A special thanks to United Way donors who checked the ‘Neighborhood Arts and Heritage’ box—you made this possible!

A full list of grant awards can be found here.  More about the grant application process and eligibility can be found here.  And if you want to read about some great examples of the programs (and your dollars) at work, just look below! Read more

Defining Cultural Vibrancy in the Greater Hartford Community

I’m a guy who likes to keep his ear to the ground about all things culture in Greater Hartford. From exhibits to plays, I’m on a constant bustle to explore and to unearth the cultural gems of our region to share and promote to our community. Amidst these voyages, I’ve heard time and time again that art and culture rest at the core of a community’s vibrancy, bringing that —WOW— factor that both defines and creates a city or town as unique and distinct.


Taste of Caribbean and Jerk Festival

A vibrant community appears much more obviously at some times throughout the year than others. For instance, Riverfront Recapture fills each summer with cultural events that draw thousands to simply enjoy our region’s multicultural, multifaceted identity. For instance, The Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival this weekend (Saturday, August 3, 2013) will bring thousands to the heart of Hartford to celebrate West Indian culture, a heritage that Greater Hartford hosts the third largest population of in the nation. Another great example is EnvisionFest in the fall, a free, one-day festival that showcases over 100 events, activities and performances in downtown Hartford. Read more


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