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‘Hartford Creates’ partnership strives to make the city a regional arts destination

The City of Hartford, in partnership with the Greater Hartford Arts Council launched its second year of the Hartford Creates 2023 Initiative for public arts, performing, and visual arts throughout the summer and fall.
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The City of Hartford, in partnership with the Greater Hartford Arts Council launched its second year of the Hartford Creates 2023 Initiative for public arts, performing, and visual arts throughout the summer and fall.

The city of Hartford and the Greater Hartford Arts Council have launched year two of “Hartford Creates.” The multi-year initiative leverages $3 million over three years from the American Rescue Plan to expand the creative economy of the Hartford region by providing more opportunities for artists. The money also supports more arts and culture events for audiences.

At a recent press conference underneath Alexander Calder's massive public art sculpture “Stegosaurus,” city officials, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and artists gathered to celebrate the first year of the program. The group said it was looking forward to the summer and fall, when the city has scheduled a host of free events subsidized, in part, by Hartford Creates.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said coming out of the pandemic, his office saw the arts as a “must have” for the city.

“We have been able to expand on the incredible traditions we already had,” Bronin said, “and to make sure it wasn’t just the big stuff, but it was the smaller opportunities to create work for artists in our city.”

Along with funding big events like The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, Hartford Creates has also focused on commissioning public works of art, like the giant mural underway on Morgan Street in Hartford. Matt Conway, the executive director of the group responsible for the mural, RiseUp, said the investments from Hartford Creates are causing a multiplier effect.

“Because the city is backing this type of work, we are seeing private funders now realizing the importance of this. We are seeing building owners realizing the importance and doubling down on the investment,” Conway said. “It’s really going to transform this city, and make it a place not only for this region, but for New England and the rest of the country to model itself after.”

According to the Greater Hartford Arts Council, in 2022, the first year of Hartford Creates, over 1,300 artists were employed, and more than 280,000 people came downtown for arts and culture events.

Corrected: May 20, 2023 at 2:36 PM EDT
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the artist of the "Stegosaurus" sculpture as Alexander Caldwell. The artist is Alexander Calder.
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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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