Arts Innovation Day Recap: Partnerships that Work

In a room full of art enthusiasts at the 2nd Arts Innovation Day conference, art organizations throughout Connecticut, and surrounding states assembled to share their experiences, and tell their stories. This inspirational gathering was created to brainstorm together, share best practices, and gain knowledge to allow each person to walk away with valuable tools that will help their establishments thrive. The day is split into two sections with a total of four panels to participate in. As the Director of Community Engagement for a local nonprofit arts organization, I was eager and excited to learn about Business Volunteers for the Arts Program at the “Partnerships that Work” panel.

As a small arts organization that runs mostly on volunteers and a modest staff, you know the struggles that can present themselves when you’re wearing many hats, and juggling more than one task at a time. The end result- vital projects neglected-to tend to immediate concerns.Continue reading →

Arts Innovation Day Recap: Building Support from the Roots Up

How do you take a panel discussion rich with complex conversations and distill those insights into a blog post? The same way you build a strong community around your organization’s mission—you look for the common threads.

Building Support from the Roots featured three panelists: Raymond Fraser of Mohegan Holding Company and Tree Sleeve, Aleta Staton of New World Arts Northeast Inc. and New Haven Commission of Arts, and Onyeka Obiocha of Beakfast.Lunch.Dinner. moderated by Josh Borenstein, Managing Director of the Long Wharf Theatre.

Two clear themes emerged from the hour-long discussion, which was designed to address the ways arts organizations can grow their grassroots support: engaging audience to inform programs, and creating meaningful organizational partnerships.Continue reading →

Arts Innovation Day Recap: Building Your PR Toolkit

I have a question for you: What percentage of communications professionals implement strategies to drive business goals? I’ll give you a clue – it’s a shockingly low number.

Of course, starting a business is never an easy thing and there is plenty that you are the business owner will need to think about. Things like how to draw in more customers, how to register your business when you start it (consider using Your Company Formations Ltd to help you out with this), how many people can you employ, how will you market your business etc.

But at the end of the day, this is what running a successful business is all about, being able to make those decisions. So I was really surprised when I found out that the percentage of communications professional implement strategies to drive business goals was so low…

That number is 12%.

Monique Freeman and Josh Stoffregen of Prudential are part of that 12%, and they did a wonderful job laying the foundation of starting a Public Relations toolkit for nonprofits – small and large alike.

As Ms. Freeman explained, there are five steps to creating a communications strategy.

Continue reading →

A New Vision: Making the Windsor Art Center a Destination for Everyone

The Windsor Art Center Studios | Photo via Windsor Art Center Facebook page

If you live, work, or play in Windsor, CT then you are most likely well-acquainted with the Windsor Art Center. The Windsor Art Center is housed in a historic Freight House located directly next to the Amtrak train line in downtown Windsor. Across the street in the former Windsor Train Station lies 8 studio spaces currently leased by local artists. Holly Pelton, Founding Board Member of the Windsor Art Center says, “We are creating more opportunities for artists.” On select Saturdays the artists leasing these studios will open their doors to the public to showcase and sell their artwork as well as provide insight into their creative processes.Continue reading →

Putting New Britain on the Map: Using the Art League of New Britain to Energize a City

For those of you who love to mix art and history, the Art League of New Britain is the place for you. Formerly known as the George Post Stable and Carriage Barn the original structure was built in 1870. During this time Mr. Post used the barn for horses, wagons, buggies, and feed.

Originally the Art League of New Britain was founded as the second art league in the United States back in 1928. During these difficult times the League managed to evolve into an art club where artists could gather for social affairs. To this day the Art League of New Britain strives to maintain the historical significance of this space. In the words of a former Art League member, Meta Grimm-Lacey, “Let no man presume to modernize our old barn by stripping it of its architectural personality, which properly dates it as a fine example of its period.”Continue reading →

9 Local Outdoor Events to Explore This Summer

Hill-Stead Museum in bloom | via the Hill-Stead Museum

Say goodbye to allergy season and HELLO to summer!

Although the calendar says spring lasts until late June, Memorial Day Weekend gives us that first taste of summer we’ve been waiting for! Whether you’re enjoying barbecues, taking a trip to somewhere new, or celebrating at home, it’s important that you make the most of the weather. For those enjoying their time in their own homes, barbecues are a great way to spend some quality time together with your friends and family. These get-togethers can be made even better if you have some space in your garden to put some comfy chairs out. If you don’t, it might be worth trying to get in contact with a uk composite decking company to see if they can install a decking area in your garden. Alternatively, if you have the know-how, you can build the decking or patio yourself. There are many places where you can find the correct supplies for your new landscaping project and using the right screw will help bring your decking or patio space to life. At least then your garden will be ready for the summer season! However, for those looking for other things to do outside the house, we figured we’d curate a list of some of our favorite outdoor events to kick your season off! Keep reading to find your perfect outdoor arts and culture event!Continue reading →

Arts Innovation Day Presenter Spotlight: Josh Stoffregen

As we gear up for Arts Innovation Day on June 2nd, we’re taking a moment to shine the spotlight on one of our amazing presenters, Josh Stoffregen, Vice President and head of the Global Communications Retirement Practice at Prudential Financial, Inc. In this role, Stoffregen leads global marketing communications strategy and media relations for Prudential Retirement’s people, products and services. Offering the likes of retirement mortgages, or annuity loans for example. Not too dissimilar to other retirement finance companies such as The Equity Release Experts (visit their website here for examples of their retirement products) or search around for other similar services to see what financial advice or aid can be offered to those in retirement, such as social security benefits, of which you can find more in-depth information at this blog on Social Security survivor vs spousal benefits.

He also serves as the project lead and spokesperson for Prudential’s groundbreaking “LGBT Financial Experience,” an in-depth look at the current financial landscape of LGBT Americans, which launched in November 2012.

The study found that 46% of participants thought the financial needs of the LGBT community – including saving for retirement – were thought to be just as important as non-LBGT. But 45% said they could not follow the same route to acquiring said finance as non-LGBT people can. Lack of support from families or financial institutions can mean that members of the community don’t have enough for retirement or perhaps need to consult with a medicaid attorney Michigan to ensure that they receive the aid they’re entitled to. A ground-breaking study to be sure.

Let’s get to know Josh Stoffregen of Prudential Financial. Josh will be partnering with his colleague Monique Freeman to present a workshop on Building Your PR Toolkit. Continue reading →

“Embrace what makes you Different” and other Fundraising Techniques

“Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.” – Henry Russo

I don’t know how it happened, but because of a Bluegrass festival, a Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru and decades’ worth of pronounced Girl Scout guilt, every attendee left the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Fundraising Messaging Workshop with something different.

And it’s all thanks to 2nd Vice President of Enterprise Leadership and Organization Development at Traveler’s, Ann Kelley.

On Thursday afternoon, on the second floor of 100 Pearl Street, I sat in a conference room, pen poised and ready. Kelley’s presentation at our 2016 Arts Innovation Day “Refining Your Elevator Speech” left attendees mesmerized. To provide staff support to our presenters and guests and actively live tweet from various locations at once, our Community Program Manager (and Arts Innovation Day coordinator), Amanda Roy assigned us to different presentations throughout the day. As I absorbed information on Managing Talent and HR Best Practices, I also spent a good portion of my day reading tweets from our guests who LOVED the storytelling session.Continue reading →

14 Awesome things to do in Hartford this weekend

Trashion Fashion dress by Katrina Orsini | Photo credit: Sabato Visconti

Let me paint you a picture.

It’s Monday and I’m in my cubicle mapping out the 7-Day Arts & Culture Guide to be sent out the following afternoon. I’m scrolling through events on our Cultural Calendar and I’m completely frazzled.

Why am I frazzled?

There are too many great events and not enough space in the 7-Day.Continue reading →

One-on-One with 2017 Featured Artist, Edward Santos

Photo: Edward Santos | via

There are a few words that come to mind when you see Edward Santos’ photography for the first time. Beautiful. Complex. Stunning.

Not only is Santos an impressive artist, he is one of the Arts Council’s 2017 Featured Artists and an advocate. Currently Vice President of the Board of Directors at the Veterans Art Foundation, Edward Santos works to fulfill their mission: to inspire veterans and their family members to utilize the arts as their own form of self-therapy to help them cope with any difficulties they may be having and help them with their transition back into society.

We chose Edward Santos to be one of our 2017 Featured Artists because of his impressive creative talents, his passion, and the impact he’s made in advocacy on behalf of Veterans and the arts. We sat down with Santos to discuss his artistic journey and his passionate efforts in advocacy.Continue reading →