Hartford Program Offers New Vision For Struggling Arts Organizations | Connecticut Public Radio

Hartford Program Offers New Vision For Struggling Arts Organizations

Aug 19, 2020

Hartford-area arts organizations impacted by COVID-19 can apply to participate in a new program aimed at building audience and capacity post-pandemic. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s Catalyst for the Arts will feature six weekly group sessions, as well as private coaching sessions facilitated by HFPG and the consulting firms Fathom, CO:LAB and the Free Center.

The pandemic has been a nightmare for arts and culture organizations. According to the Greater Hartford Arts Council, closed venues and cancellations have caused Hartford-area organizations to shed more than 60% of their workforce just to stay afloat. The Catalyst for the Arts program was conceived as a way for these organizations to forge a new path forward, but only if they are willing to step out of their comfort zone.  

“If you’re imagining on the other side of this that you are just going to be doing the same thing you were doing before, this is probably not the program for you,” said Jackie Coleman, senior education investments officer with the Hartford Foundation. “The idea is to think beyond, think differently. Imagine who is your audience going to be on the other side? Because things are going to be different, and we’re all different going through this pandemic. What is your programming going to look like?”

Catalyst for the Arts has three main objectives: creating a new strategic growth plan for the arts organizations involved, increasing collaborations between arts organizations, and developing a plan to make the organizations more diverse and reflective of the community.

Rich Hollant is the founder of CO:LAB and the Free Center, which is partnering with HFPG on the program. He said forging collaborations is an important part of the program, because he believes when the smaller organizations and individual artists are successful, everyone thrives.

“It raises the vibrancy of the entire sector,” said Hollant. “In just about every city that I’ve seen, a big point of impact in the community is about the new music that’s happening, it’s about the street art, it’s about the improv groups. That builds an excitement, a kind of kinetics in the community.”

Fifteen arts organizations of varying sizes will be selected for the program, which gets underway in the fall.

This note: The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is a financial supporter of Connecticut Public.