Why We Love Aetna Arts Week

Today kicks off one of our favorite arts events: Aetna Arts Week, a week-long celebration of arts, heritage and culture in and around the capital city. Each year, we present two arts weeks (one in the fall, one in the spring) sponsored by Aetna and made possible by your generous donations to our United Arts Campaign.

But why do we love Aetna Arts Week? Alright, sure. We love anything about the arts. But this program, in particular, serves a number of community needs—and helps strengthen our relationship with one of our most important corporate partners, Aetna.

Let me back it up again. Aetna has been a long-time supporter of the Arts Council (and of many of the organizations we represent). For about 10 years, they sponsored & helped produce Aetna First Thursday, an evening of jam-packed arts programming on the first Thursday of every month. A few years ago, we noticed the popularity of the ‘monthly funnel’ of arts events had started to wane; our organizations were running their own, wildly successful Thursday late-night activities, and we wanted to pilot a new, different program that both served the cultural community AND engaged our partnership with Aetna.

One of the biggest struggles we have here at the Arts Council is showing you—the community—all of the wonderful organizations, events & programs supported by United Arts. I mean, we fund nearly 150 different institutions and events each year! Working with Aetna, we came up with a new idea: instead of “First Thursday,” how about creating a week FULL of events from our grantee organizations. We’ll do it twice a year and use it as an opportunity to drive the public to the places we support, while getting them more engaged in the art itself.

Ta-Da! Aetna Arts Week was born.

To us, this is one of the best examples of an arts-business partnership. It helps the Arts Council provide free & low-cost community arts events, keeping art accessible to everyone. It showcases our United Arts operating support grantees, providing a “sample” or “tasting” of the wonderful programs they offer year-round. And, it allows Aetna the opportunity to continue to support the arts and get its employees more involved and engaged in the Greater Hartford community.


See the full line-up of Aetna Arts Week from this Courant article and on this blog.

Special thanks to Aetna (of course!) and to our operating support grantees who are offering an amazing line-up of programming. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the success of our United Arts Campaign, thanks to the generous support of our individual donors, corporate partners, foundations & government agencies.