#younghARTford Recap

Feb 11, 2014

We had a great turnout for the Hartford Courant's #younghARTford Key Issues Forum on February 10th. Our knowledgable and creative panel talked about why Hartford is awesome for artists, what our community could do better to support the arts, and why they think Hartford is going to be the next big scene for local arts and artists. Thank you to the Hartford Courant, The Mark Twain House & Museum, Anne Cubberly, Maxwell Williams, Cynthia Bulaong, Chion Wolf, Khaiim the RapOet and Julia Pistell for a fantastic program.

Why is being an artist in Hartford awesome?

Khaiim - The Hartford community is very supportive, and there are lots of artists here. Everyone is an artist whether they know it or not. Everyone does some kind of art. We also have a lot of arts institutions that provide funding and opportunities for artists to grow. There is so much talent here, so much opportunity.

Anne - Through Night Fall, I get to work with so many amazingly talented people. Night Fall is a natural extension of who I am as a person. Things that are important to me - giant puppets, collaboration with other talented people, bridging communities.

Maxwell - What does Hartford mean to Hartford Stage? Hartford is the sort of city that... when you're part of something like Hartford Stage, if feels almost unique to have such a dynamic impact on the city. In New York, you can put on a show, but it's such a small piece of that city. Here, it feels like we're making work (putting on a show) for the whole city.

Cynthia - I believe that we have a large arts community, but I'm not sure that the general population thinks that. We have the big guys with the funding and patrons, and we have the educational institutions, and all the way down to the individual artists. Right now we're seeing individual artists make Hartford more interesting, and I think it's working. I think Hartford is getting more artsy.

Julia - Sea Tea Improv only exists because of Hartford. We took a class at Hartford Stage on improv, and wanted to see more of it in the city. Sea Tea happened because of a mix of wanting improv, seeing the empty store fronts, and wanting more things to do in Hartford. We were able to respond to Hartford's wants and needs. I think, you see an empty space that you think should be filled, and you fill it.

Chion - Hartford is such a small city - you have Sea Tea Improv on Pratt Street next to Studio N111 next to Hartford Prints! And on Arbor Street, Hartford Denim next to Real Art Ways next to so many other artists in the studios.

What do you say to people who say they aren't creative?

Anne - <Asks the audience> "Who has ever told a lie?" <Majority of audience raises their hands> "That's creativity!"

How do you know you're an artist?

Khaiim - Honestly, I don't like the labels. It seems like the more someone is called an "artist" the more mental blocks they have. We need to give ourselves credit for what we're doing and call yourself what you are.

What could Hartford do better?

Julia - Well, everyone wants events to be free, and we all want artists to be paid. I don't have the solution to that, but the community needs to value the individual artists, and sometimes that means paying to attend an event.

Cynthia - We have so many different levels of artists, people need to learn to support the arts. Attend their events, spread the word, buy art. If you've never bought an original piece of art, go do it.

What does your ideal Hartford look like?

Maxwell - I want to see empty storefronts filled, I want a grocery store Downtown. I want to see more opportunities for young people to support the arts. At Hartford Stage, our demographic skews older because young professionals don't necessarily have the disposable income, then they're having families and focusing on that.

Julia - I'd love to see support of the arts, and not just through money. I want to see the corporations in the area encouraging their employees to go out for lunch, walk around, visit the art organizations. Can you imagine if all of the Downtown workers walked around on their lunch breaks, and bought a card or a print or a museum ticket?

Khaiim - I want to see more connectivity. We have these amazing neighborhoods that are so diverse, but no one travels around. Hartford seems to have an identity issue with all of our different cultures, races, ethnicities and neighborhoods. I also think that Hartford is going to be very hot for artists, and if those of us who are here don't start to appreciate our artists soon, someone else will.

Some of the panelists wrote short pieces for the Courant about the arts in Hartford - if you missed them, you can read them here. And if you weren't able to attend #younghARTford, you're in luck because CT-N filmed it so you can watch it over and over again.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the arts in Hartford! What do you love? What else do you want to see?


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