A group of Black and Latino artists will convene today for the first time to find ways to support and diversify Greater Hartford’s arts community.
The Artists of Color Advisory Group was formed in response to a study by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Its 2019 Greater Hartford Arts Landscape Study concluded that the region had a wealth of diverse artists but a limited amount of opportunities for them.
“So we got the study back, and saw the data that there were very few people of color on the boards, and in the high-level positions, in the arts community,” said Jacqueline Coleman, senior education investments officer for HFPG, “so we thought the next step was to bring in artists of color to see if this sounded accurate to them, and to figure out why this was happening.”
Late last year, HFPG did just that, inviting dozens of artists to an open discussion. Coleman said a lot of ideas came forth in that meeting.
“One of the takeaways from that meeting was ‘whatever you do, Hartford Foundation, please make sure that you are not doing it to us, that you are doing it with us,’ down to the point of designing what that might look like,” explained Coleman. “They felt like ‘please don’t tell us here is what we are going to do now for you guys,’ and dump the money out there. They wanted a say. If we are going to invest dollars to help them in their community, they wanted to be involved.”
Coleman says the idea for the formation of the new Artists of Color Advisory Group came out of the larger meeting. The newly formed group consists of 14 arts leaders and artists from varied backgrounds and disciplines in the Hartford area, as well as representatives from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
Yolande Spears, The Bushnell’s senior vice president of education and a member of the advisory group, said one of the areas she will focus on is training.
“I just think there are opportunities for those artists who want to do arts administration, or arts management, or grant writing; if there’s something they feel they have an interest in, then let’s think about how we get them engaged in those organizations,” said Spears. “Because if you don’t get inside these organizations and understand it, then you can’t learn.”
The first meeting of the advisory group will aim to create goals and a support structure for artists of color, as well as establish a timeline and governing guidelines for how the group will operate.