The mission of the Greater Hartford Arts Council is to provide leadership for the financial success and organizational stability of the arts, heritage and cultural community of Connecticut’s capital region. And we’ve been doing it for more than 40 years.
The Greater Hartford Arts Council was established in 1971 at the request of the corporate community to serve as an umbrella fundraising and grantmaking agency for the growing arts scene of Hartford. The original Arts Council supported five institutions, raising $322,800, mainly from corporate contributions, to provide general operating support to Hartford’s cultural organizations.
Since then, the organization has grown substantially, both inside and outside of Hartford. Today’s general operating support pool funds 18 organizations with budgets ranging from $225,000 to almost $15 million. The Arts Council’s annual fundraising efforts, renamed the United Arts Campaign, support more than 150 different organizations throughout a 34-town service area circling the capital city. In addition to fundraising, the Arts Council provides a range of professional services, advocacy, audience development and community outreach programs to connect the public with the arts here in Greater Hartford.
A Full-Service Agency
Unlike many membership-based arts councils across the country, where members must pay dues to be eligible of services and funding opportunities, the Arts Council never charges its constituents–any artist, arts association or organization within our service area can take advantage of what we have to offer. That’s what makes the Greater Hartford Arts Council unique: we act as both a “united arts fund” and a cultural affairs agency for the region. Beyond fundraising and grantmaking, the Arts Council has a lot to offer the arts community (and the public):
- Cultural Promotions: our weekly 7-Day Arts & Entertainment Forecast email reaches 15,000 local subscribers, while ArtsScoop provides industry news and opportunities for organizations and artists. We run and manage the Greater Hartford Welcome Center as a resource for residents and visitors to learn more about our arts and heritage community.
- Community Events: from the bi-annual Taste of Hartford dining promotions to Aetna Arts Weeks and the popular summertime Monday Night Jazz series, the Arts Council runs a series of fun and free year-round events that make the arts accessible to everyone.
- Professional Services & Technical Assistance: the Arts Council plays a leading role in mentoring arts organizations of all sizes, providing objective advice, strategic planning and pro-bono services. We host regular technical assistance workshops and seminars for local artists and manage the region’s Peer Advisor Network with the state’s Office of the Arts.
- Public Art: we manage the 100 Pearl Street Gallery as part of our commitment to supporting local artists and providing an exhibition space for one-of-a-kind work from across our region. In addition, we manage the City of Hartford’s public arts projects, commissioning new artwork and maintaining an existing collection of more than 60 pieces.
- Advocacy: as the largest arts agency in the region, the Arts Council serves as a voice for central Connecticut’s artists and arts institutions. We are proud and active members of the state’s local arts agency program, the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, the Connecticut Arts Alliance and Americans for the Arts, the nation’s chief advocacy organization for arts and cultural issues.
- Arts Education: the Arts Council serves as the fiscal agent of Hartford Performs, an arts education collaborative serving students in the Hartford Public School system that combines in-school, curriculum-based arts instruction, out-of-school arts experiences and supports arts teachers. The Arts Council runs Neighborhood Studios, a summer apprenticeship program that gives local teens real-world training in the arts.
The Return on Investment
We have so much to be proud of: the arts are a big part of life here in Greater Hartford. Our community ranks in the top 6% of metro areas in North America for arts and culture. Greater Hartford is home to a number of nationally significant institutions, from Bushnell Park, the oldest publicly funded park in the United States, to Mark Twain’s and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s homes in the West End of the city. The Wadsworth Atheneum, America’s first public art museum, is right in the heart of Hartford’s downtown and the New Britain Museum of American Art, the nation’s first museum dedicated to American art, is just minutes from the capital.
The arts community makes a huge impact on our local economy:
- we represent an annual economic impact of $244 million and support 7,300 local jobs
- we generate $23.5 million in local & state revenue
- we welcome audiences totaling 5 million, many from outside the state and region
- we invest $8-10 million a year on educational programming
The Arts Council is home to some of the most committed and hardest working arts professionals around. We hope this blog will not only show off everything our arts community has to offer, but also encourage readers to go out and experience the arts for themselves.