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Hartford’s Real Art Ways to undergo major expansion

An artist's rendering of the exterior of 56 Arbor Street once renovations are complete.
Real Art Ways
An artist's rendering of the exterior renovations planned for 56 Arbor St. in Hartford.

With its mix of independent film screenings, fine art exhibitions and live music, Hartford’s Real Art Ways has been a fixture in the city’s Parkville neighborhood for over 30 years.

During that time, the old Underwood Typewriter Co. building at 56 Arbor St. has been home to the arts organization. Last month, Real Art Ways said it will soon close on the purchase of that building, and with it, plans for a major expansion of its facility and services.

Those plans include adding four more cinemas, a cafe and gathering place, a new performing arts space, as well as more classrooms and workshops. Real Art Ways expects to hire an additional nine full-time and 16 part-time staff members when the renovations are complete.

“This is going to be a place where people gather, where all sorts of people from different backgrounds connect,” said Will K. Wilkins, executive director of Real Art Ways. “Purchasing 56 Arbor St. lays the foundation for the economic, artistic and community future of Real Art Ways.”

Real Art Ways

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the expansion is great news for the city of Hartford.

“Real Arts Ways has been, for so many years, a vital force in our community. It is a convener, it is a center of creativity, it is a center of community, where everybody in the city feels at home,” said Bronin.

The two-year, $14.7 million renovation project is expected to begin in the fall of next year. According to Real Art Ways, the renovation will bring in 120 temporary construction jobs.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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