Oh, Oh It’s Magic (Color Scratch Postcards)!

Travelers scratch art 1

Travelers kicked off their fall employee giving campaign with a little magic– magic color scratch postcards, that is.  The Greater Hartford Arts Council was invited to participate in Travelers’ employee giving campaign with a number of other local organizations.  But employees showed off their creative sides by participating in our Magic Color Scratch Art Postcard competition, and boy are they artistic! Read More

Neighborhood Studios Q&A: Artists Collective – Youth Jazz Orchestra


Apprentices of the Youth Jazz Orchestra program at Neighborhood Studios


When the apprentices of the Youth Jazz Orchestra program at Neighborhood Studios come together to perform, magic happens. I’ve never been one to appreciate jazz, but after listening to the students’ beautiful live performance during Studio Snapshots, I finally understood all rage. Jazz is the heart and soul of Hartford, and these talented musicians trained by the teachers of Artists Collective are the next generation of performers. Read on to get the scoop about the program in our q&a with Artists Collective and check out this video performance of the students.

What’s an average day like at your studio?

Sign in, attendance, morning meeting, one on one instrumental training, small  group section rehearsals, a history component that includes lectures and audiovisual aides. Afternoon activity includes orchestral rehearsal, working on the production repertoire, developing solo improvisational  skills and techniques.

What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you?

We are inspired to see youth who in some instances have preconceived ideas about the community where the Artists Collective is located.  We are always deeply gratified to see them overcome these media-driven stereotypes within days of our program.They find it exciting to be in North Hartford. The students are inspired and curious to learn music they have not been exposed to in school.  The understanding that most of America’s musical contributions to the world emanated from people of African decent (Field hollers, negro spirituals, Gospel, Blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock n roll, hip hop) is a tangible lesson that they can refer to every day. Many students have  gone on to pursue careers in the arts and have returned as instructors.

How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

Students who experience music on a daily basis often realize that they would like to pursue a career in music.  The work/job experience translates to team work  with  people of diverse backgrounds and  responsibility is excellent preparation for the world of work no matter what career paths students ultimately decide to pursue.

What did past students take away from the program and how does that experience differ from a traditional art class?

Past students have experienced expansion of their knowledge of music and history. Opening their minds to musical traditions not learned in school, pride in having been selected as an apprentice, and successfully completing performance on his or her instrument in an ensemble setting. Many students leave with the desire to learn about their cultural and historical backgrounds.

Everything You Need To Do In Hartford By August 12


Hartford Stage apprentices of Neighborhood Studios


The Arts Council’s summer arts education program, Neighborhood Studios culminates this week with a series of showcases from various art organizations in Hartford. From poetry slams and breakdancing, to photography and short films, prepare to become inspired by the next generation of artists and writers this week. Other events you’ll want to add to your agenda are First Thursday at the Wadsworth, a free movie in the park, and the last show from Monday Night Jazz (who else is weeping inside?). Peruse the full list below and let us know in the comments if we missed anything.


When you see [UA] in the heading, it means the organization is supported by the contributions made to the Arts Council’s Annual United Arts Campaign.




Neighborhood Studios Showcase: The Other Side of the Story [UA]

When: Wednesday, August 6, 6PM

Where: The Mark Twain House

Check out the inspiring writing from Neighborhood Studios apprentices at the Mark Twain House studio showcase. This year’s theme “The Other Side of the Story” gives voice to issues such as feminism, racism, and war.

Admission: $5. http://letsgoarts.org/NeighborhoodStudios/Showcases.




Neighborhood Studios Showcase: Inside Out [UA]

When: Thursday, August 7, 5:30PM

Where: The Amistad Center

Love photography? Head over to the Neighborhood Studios Snap Photography showcase to view the beautiful work of photography apprentices. The “Inside Out” theme explores external and internal factors, what lies beneath the surface, and experimental photography methods.

Admission: Free.  http://letsgoarts.org/NeighborhoodStudios/Showcases


First Thursday Block Party: Caribbean Festival [UA] 

When: Thursday, August 7, 5PM – 9PM

Where: Wadsworth Atheneum

Missed last week’s Caribbean and Jerk Festival? No worries! The Wadsworth’s First Thursday (and last one of the season!) block party celebrates everything Caribbean. From live music by De 4 AhWee Steel Band and Amandla Reggae Band to performances by the Caribbean American Dance Company, and of course, tons of Caribbean food.

Admission: $5; free for members. www.thewadsworth.org.


Sea Tea Improv Presents Improv’d Cinema: Summer Mockbuster [UA]

When: Thursday, August 7, 7PM

Where: Real Art Ways

Your least favorite film is about to get dramatically funnier with Sea Tea Improv. Join them to choose the worst b-movie and watch as they improve the performance by voicing over the entire film.

Admission: $5 – $10. 860-232-1006. www.realartways.org.


18th Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival

When: Thursday, August 7 (through August 9), 12PM

Where: Hebron Fairgrounds

Come out for the 18th annual bluegrass musical festival featuring the best of local, regional, and national bluegrass bands.

Admission: $5. 860-828-9818. www.podunkbluegrass.com.


Summer Dance

When: Thursday, August 7, 7PM

Where: Welte Theater – Central Connecticut State University

Watch the world premiere ballet performance of “The Minister’s Black Veil,” the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, with an opening performance by Rachmanioff’s “Symphonic Dances.”

Admission: $30. 860-232-8898. www.albanoballet.org

Let’s GO Arts! Membership Discount: $20. 




Free Movies after Dark: Akeelah and the Bee 

When: Friday, August 8, 6:30PM

Where: Sigourney Park

Bring your own blanket and relax under the stars for a free screening of Akeelah and the Bee (2006) in Sigourney Park.

Admission: Free. www.hartford.com.


Neighborhood Studios Showcase: Color as Content [UA]

When: Friday, August 8, 4PM

Where: Real Art Ways

Get to know them before they become famous! Watch inspiring short films from the budding filmmakers of Neighborhood Studios’ Real Art Ways program.

Admission: Free. http://letsgoarts.org/NeighborhoodStudios/Showcases.




52nd Annual Greater Hartford West Indian Independence Celebrations

When: Saturday, August 9, 11AM -8PM

Where: Bushnell Park

Celebrate Hartford’s West Indian traditions and culture with this all-day festival featuring live music, dance, and a parade.

Admission: Free.


Behind-the-Scenes Tours: Putting History on the Map 

When: Saturday, August 9, 2PM

Where: Connecticut Historical Society

Calling all history geeks: get a behind-the-scenes look at CHS’s recent project to digitize and catalog its large collection of maps, including the earliest published maps of Connecticut.

Admission: $6-$12. 860-236-5621 x 289. www.chs.org/calendar.





Concert Series – Horizon Blue [UA] 

When: Sunday, August 10, 3PM – 4PM

Where: New Britain Museum of American Art

Stop by New Britain Museum of American Art for an acoustic performance by Americana musical group, Horizon Blue.

Admission: $8 – $12. www.nbmaa.org.


Open Hearth Cooking [UA]

When: Sunday, August 10, 12PM – 4PM

Where: Stanley-Whitman House

Get the scoop on colonial cuisine and methods from historical interpreter Georgia Exner who will cook on a 18th-century hearth.

Admission: Free. www.stanleywhitman.org




Monday Night Jazz

When: Monday, August 11, 6:30PM

Where: Bushnell Park

Bring your lawn chairs and picnic basket for the last show of the season from Monday Night Jazz featuring opening act Michael Pallas Quintet and headliner, Stephen King Porter and the Legacy Band.

Admission: Free. www.hartfordmondaynightjazz.com


Neighborhood Studios Showcase: Love’s Labour’s Lost  [UA]

When: Monday, August 11 (through August 13)

Where: Hartford Stage, University of Saint Joseph

Get ready to dance with the animated and talented apprentices of Neighborhood Studios’ Breakdancing Shakespeare class as they fuse breakdancing and acting into a breathtaking performance.

Admission: $5. http://letsgoarts.org/NeighborhoodStudios/Showcases



Summer Art Adventures: Artist-in-Residence Mary Cottle Smeallie/Project Weaving [UA]

When: Tuesday, August 12, 10:30AM – 12PM

Where: New Britain Museum of American Art

Learn about the various cultures that enjoy a rich history of weaving and explore contemporary forms of fiber art. For ages 10 & up.

Admission: $12 – $18. 860-229-0257 x 220. www.nbmaa.org.


Want a spot on our list? Submit your arts and cultural events to our calendar and we may just feature it.


Neighborhood Studios Q&A: Real Art Ways – Eye on Video


Neighborhood Studios apprentices of the Real Art Ways program


There’s plenty of reasons to love Real Art Ways: the intimate art space is a haven for contemporary local art, Oscar-winning independent films, and fun, creative cocktail hours. Another reason to love Real Art Ways? They’re one of five organizations participating in Neighborhood Studios, a summer arts education apprenticeship for students in Greater Hartford. The Eye on Video program teaches apprentices – you guessed it – film production. If you’re a fan of short, independent films, you’ll want to stop by Real Art Ways on Friday night for the students’ studio showcase, where they will present their work. You may just meet a handful of future famous film directors. Read on to learn more about the program from our interview with Erika Van Natta, master teaching artist of Real Art Ways.

How many years has Real Art Ways been involved?

Real Art Ways has been a Neighborhood Studios host for the past nine summers.  Over the years we’ve had over eighty Apprentices.  We’ve even gotten to know whole families, as younger siblings have stepped into the Apprentice role.  It is especially rewarding to see Apprentices want to come back, either to further their own skills or to give back to others.  Real Art Ways becomes somewhat of a second home, offering them a cultural center and a place to be part of an artistic community.


What are the goals for your studio this summer?

Within a short but intensive six-week program, we have a lot to cover.  For many of our Apprentices, this is the first time they’ve ever made a video, let alone worked with the manual settings on a DSLR format camera or semi-professional editing software.  Our primary goal is to make this technical medium accessible to young artists.  We want them to feel confident with the process, versed in cinematic language and excited to translate their own ideas onto the screen.  This summer our studio theme is Color as Content.  Colors are all around us, in our environments, clothing and objects.  As a cinematographer, the goal is to observe thoughtfully, and to selectively compose and organize colors to emphasize mood and create a visual style.  Throughout the program, we want our Apprentices to have fun, meet new people from diverse backgrounds and make lasting friendships.


What’s an average day like at your studio?

Eye on Video begins each day with a screening of a historically significant film with a focus on an innovative use of color. Post-viewing, the Apprentices regroup for a film conversation, which covers everything from cinematographic and directorial choices to cultural significance and the role of color, aesthetically and thematically. For the afternoon, they typically split into two groups that alternate editing and shooting sessions. During the editing block, the Apprentices transform raw footage into completed short films while the shooting group ventures into the surrounding Parkville neighborhood to capture video for their next assignment. At the end of the day, the two groups come together for a closing discussion and reflective journaling exercise.  Other afternoons may include tutorials, practice exercises, and class critiques.


What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you?

The greater Hartford area is an extremely diverse local with a rich varied history. The students represent the future of our community and are responsible for continuing its artistic tradition. The students are all very talented and due to their unique backgrounds focus their lenses on many different things. Each student shows individual talent and promise but what I find most inspirational is their strength as a cohort.  When they come to the studio they are able to leverage each other’s strengths, showing great sensitivity to the diversity of their peers, to form an artistic whole greater than the sum of its parts. The student’s future is our future and I think their future is bright.


How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

The career skills curriculum provides our Apprentices with an opportunity that is rarely available to their age group. This early exposure to career skills—like financial planning, resume writing, and networking—not only gives Apprentices a head start in understanding the demands of the transition to adult life, but also gives them an awareness of the steps they can already begin to take towards an eventual career in the arts. In a world where there is already much skepticism about the importance of art and art education, students need the support from a program like Neighborhood Studios to bolster their confidence in pursuing art as a career. However, even if Apprentices choose not to turn their passion for a specific discipline into a lifelong vocation, all benefit from the program’s central objective of simultaneously fostering professionalism and creativity in young people.


What did past students take away from the program and how does that experience differ from a traditional art class?

Overall our Apprentices take away a more immersive experience.  Their entire day is structured around film and video, which gives them the chance to delve much deeper into the curriculum than possible in a single class period.  They also feel the program offers them greater hands on time than traditional art classes, and the opportunity to create with an experimental, open-ended approach.  Our Apprentices benefit from having a peer group that is extremely passionate about what they are doing.  They’re supportive of each other’s growth, excited to exchange ideas and proud of each other’s creative achievements.

Neighborhood Studios Q&A: Hartford Stage – Breakdancing Shakespeare



It’s not often that a performance makes us want to get up and dance, but when the Breakdancing Shakespeare apprentices of Neighborhood Studios are on stage, it’s hard to resist the urge to do arm waves and hand glides. The talented cohort of fifteen teenagers across the Greater Hartford region combine breakdancing and acting for a unique performance based on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. There’s something to be said about the passion, confidence, and support these apprentices show for each other, and the communal art form of breakdancing may have something to do with it. We sat down with master teaching artist, Nina Pinchin of Hartford Stage to get the scoop on the popular program.

Mark your calendar for their showcase at the University of Saint Joseph between August 11 – 13. You won’t want to miss this inspiring performance!

What are the goals for Breakdancing Shakespeare this summer?

We set out to tell a difficult story well, to create a diverse ensemble of talented young people, and to find the “funny” in the text and the “WOW” in the dance!


What’s an average day like at the studio?

Apprentices usually dance in the morning and have a rehearsal including text in the afternoon.  Each week also includes master classes – this summer master classes included: Commedia Del’Arte (classical Italian style of street theater), Voice, Mask, and Popping/Locking.


What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you?

I am always impressed not only by the talent of the young people this program brings in.  But also by their ability to connect, their professionalism, and their ownership over the work they do.  Some of the most collaborative artistic colleagues I have worked with in my career have come through this apprenticeship program.


How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

Through the years of participating in this program we have heard over and over again that it was a key element in inspiring young people to reach higher and dream bigger. Many former apprentices mention the work they did with the Neighborhood Studios program as important in their journey to college and beyond.


What did past students take away from the program and how does that experience differ from a traditional art class?

The intensive summers working towards a production for six weeks creates friendships and a lasting artistic community diverse in age, geography, heritage, and types of talent. The bonds apprentices create over each summer with Neighborhood Studios serve them well for years to come.

Neighborhood Studios Career Skills: Social Media & Networking for Artists


Sea Tea Improv performs a skit for the apprentices at Neighborhood Studios

As artists, we know a little thing or two about DIY, after all we pretty much invented the term. It makes sense then that we would wear many hats when working professionally.  Whether that means building our brand, pitching our own work, or marketing ourselves on social media. That’s why we invited Sea Tea Improv, Hartford’s favorite improv comedians, to share their expertise on social media and networking to the apprentices at Neighborhood Studios, the Arts Council’s summer arts education program for teens. Read More

Neighborhood Studios Q&A: Amistad Center for Art & Culture – Snap Photography



Neighborhood Studios apprentices snap pictures around Hartford

As one of the most diverse metropolitan areas, Hartford offers a piece of culture for everyone. The Amistad Center for Art and Culture, a fixture in Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art  since 1987, celebrates current and historical African art and culture through various educational programs. One of the ways in which the Amistad does this is through Neighborhood Studios, the Arts Council’s summer arts education program for teens in Greater Hartford. Read More