Dan Deutsch

Keeping It Moving: How Savana Jones Becomes One With the Music

“I embody multiple styles…I move with what’s given to me.”

Take one look at Savana Jones’ resume and you’ll see that she’s done it all – and if you see a gap, she’ll seize any opportunity to take on a new challenge. Having grown up listening to pop, doo-wop and R&B, the leap to ballet and contemporary wasn’t as far as one might think. A young Jones watched in awe as ballerinas close to her age glided across the screen in White Christmas, and asked her mother, “how do I do that?” It wasn’t long before Jones, already a student at the Artists Collective, was dancing with Hartford City Ballet, which exposed her to the world of dance through programs that usually offered lessons in multiple types.

photography: Mike Marques

A pivotal point in Jones’ dancing career was in 2012, when she decided to take on dance professionally. Darlene Brandon hired Jones as the Assistant Choreographer for Mapeach ProductionsThe Wiz, and it was from there that Jones’ dance circle grew exponentially. Over the years, she’s worked with Anne Cubberly of Night Fall, XY Eli Blues Band, Ruth Lewis and Dimensional Dance, and Ballet Theatre Company. While inspired by the classics – Lena Horne, Alvin Ailey, and more – her true inspirations are people she’s been able to share time with. These artists come from multiple disciplines, which highlights her multifaceted background: ballet, ballroom, jazz, hip-hop, samba, Bollywood, and traditional dances from China, Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica.

In addition to the never-ending love and encouragement from her mother, Jones’ flexible homecare job has enabled her to pursue all of these different artistic ventures, including featured spots with Ed Fast and Conga Bop at the Iridium in New York City last year. Jones met Fast in a typical fashion for Hartford artists: at a gig. During pre-COVID times, Jones constantly sought out live music. One night after a gig of her own, she walked into La Casona as Conga Bop was finishing their last tune. She serendipitously met Fast through a friend, and the conversation was brief: “You dance?”

photography: Mike Marques

“I’m in love with who I am and excited about where I’m going.”

With the downsizing of live arts events to participate in and attend, Jones has found the time to use dance to its fullest extent. She’s used this newfound time to keep in shape, increase flexibility, work on strength and conditioning, and meditate through movement. When she’s “focused on becoming one with the music, everything else goes away.” She’s adapted to the transition from in-person teaching to virtual lessons, and is actively expanding her business practices to be more flexible to her students’ needs.

Jones’ love of live music isn’t connected solely to her active dance career. Growing up, she loved all kinds of instruments, particularly strings, percussion, and the piano; she’s always wanted to play acoustic guitar. Recently, she’s been wanting to take up the bass guitar. When we’re all able to gather together again to celebrate our local arts scene, take a close look at the rhythm section of the band – you may see a hidden dancer.

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

photography: Edward LaRose
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A Tale of One City, Through the Voices of HartBeat Ensemble

“Our work has always been about the city and the community.”


HartBeat Ensemble Co-Founder and former Artistic Director Julia Rosenblatt has worked in the realm of theatre for social change for years. Before co-founding the Asylum Hill-based company, Rosenblatt had been working with fellow co-founders Steven Raider-Ginsburg and Gregory Tate in the San Francisco Mime Troupe. An opportunity opened up in the late 90’s when their plans to move back to the Hartford area aligned, and they decided to create HartBeat Ensemble together. The plan was to dig deep for about a year to figure out exactly what they wanted to do. Five days after moving back to the area, the world changed on September 11th. They immediately jumped into action and started developing street theatre and devised pieces, which would serve as a preview for work to come. The company’s model was, and still is based in community partnerships. Early ones include Catholic Workers, SEIU 1199, and CT Coalition for Peace and Justice. They were “in residence” at Charter Oak Cultural Center for several years before finding their current home at the Carriage House Theater.

For a company that’s only been around less than 20 years, the tight-knit group has amassed decades’ worth of experience through their collaborators. Fellow theatre artists, playwrights, students, and educators are often seen on stage or in the booth. One of these artists is Cin Martinez, a founding member, actress, playwright, and producer. She remembers her first experience with HartBeat fondly: “[It was] a pleasant experience to have a supportive ensemble, a group that was prepared and happy to help me grow professionally,” Martinez said. “[it] created an environment that I felt seen and heard as an artist of color.”

Martinez, center, in Flipside

“I have purpose here.”

LAUGH the Poet is another example of a company member who started out doing just one thing at HartBeat but is now a multi-faceted theatre artist. Over the past several years, he’s been involved in a variety of capacities: internships, sound design, stage managing, and acting. It was through the company’s Youth Play Institute that he transitioned from participating to facilitating. Through talking to him, it quickly became clear that he’s never said “no” to anything they’ve asked of him, because he lives and breathes HartBeat. “Theater is a home where you can be yourself.” They used to call him “Tigger” because of his boundless energy, and helped him harness uneasiness into focus and productivity. According to Sanchez, being a part of this group of people he always wants to be around has made him calmer, and taught him how to be more efficient and present. As a bilingual facilitator, he’s been able to connect with students in both Spanish and English through theatre, where they otherwise may not have opportunities to connect on personal and cultural levels. Working with HartBeat gives him the opportunity to work with students that share some of the same characteristics he had, where “disruptive’ energy is accepted.

“Things can’t be the same…ever again.”

Jimmy and Lorraine

Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. has been the company’s Artistic Director for over seven months, but the present and future of HartBeat Ensemble isn’t all that different from what he had imagined they’d be doing. They had planned a season of productions by or about people of color, and now they are pivoting the company to be even more intentional about anti-racism. In reality, for one of Hartford’s few theatre ensembles dedicated to social justice, this isn’t as drastic of a change in content as it will be in format. Instead of staging productions in their 75-seat theater, the company is looking into radio plays and outdoor performances. Simmons and company are asking themselves and their audience, “how do we create the world we want to live in?” through a BIPOC lens. “In theater, which is very white (at least in the USA), it’s time to have a conversation,” Simmons said. “Many of the things we took for granted are going to start crumbling, and will be replaced by a new experiment that will be more inclusive and nimble.”

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

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Life in Full Circle: Versatile Poetiq’s Journey from the Court to the Mic

Poet. Host. Educator. Actress. Activist. Sports fanatic.

Is there a better word to describe Brittana Tatum than Versatile? She would most certainly say “no,” and here’s why.

In the theater industry, it is common to call people who excel at acting, singing and dancing, “triple threats.” In Tatum’s case, her passions lie within poetry, hosting open mics, and educating. It all started with one fateful open mic at The Russell in downtown Hartford. What started as a Myspace name, “Versatile Poetiq” ended up becoming her stage name and how she’s known in arts scenes around the region. “Poetry has taken me places I never thought it would,” and it all started with spoken word, according to Tatum. “Versatile” doesn’t only describe everything she does; it has a lot to do with her identity as a Queer, Black woman who grew up in the suburbs. After a brief stint a prestigious acting school before she could write complex sentences, she started playing basketball. Tatum eventually got recruited to play basketball at college, but she felt pulled towards her artistic side.

Just two days after her Russell debut, Tatum performed at an open mic hosted at the former Tapas Restaurant in Downtown Hartford. It was there that she met a few other like-minded artists that would soon join her growing circle of influences and inspirations, including TangSauce, Zulynette, and DJ Stealth (aka Assad Jackson). As for hosting, it ended up being something she simply fell into doing, as a result of meeting the right people at the right time.

One of these people is Khaiim Kelly (aka Self-Suffice), who eventually became one of her closest friends and mentors. After subbing for Kelly at an open mic at City Hall, she was asked to host a dance battle at Heaven Skate Park, which quickly became one of her favorite events to host. Stars continued to align for Tatum after Kelly invited her to be a Teaching Assistant for a Civic Engagement class at Charter Oak Cultural Center. For the past decade, she’s been an educator there as well as Arts for Learning CT, a nonprofit organization dedicated to arts integration and engaging kids of all ages and abilities in learning through the arts.

Black Ink walking across the Paper Saluting Success
White out the Black mistakes enslaving his Progress
A Colorless world, a colorless Rainbow, a colorless disaster
So I speak of holding Black White as the Story Happily Ever After

(excerpt from the poem “Black White,” by Versatile Poetiq)

Tatum didn’t just stop at writing and performing, hosting, and educating. This past February, she starred as hustler and gambler Can in “Daisies on Harlem’s Doorstep,” written by Sharece Sellem at the Norwich Arts Center, directed by Rob Esposito and Briana Dawson. More recently, she’s been hosting “The Corner,” a bi-monthly open mic produced with Kamora’s Cultural Corner, Connecticut’s only Black LGBTQI Community Center. Every session includes a community poem, where each participant writes two lines in response to the previous two lines, and that is part of what keeps Tatum excited and inspired about being a community-minded artist.

Yet even artists sometimes have a non-artistic hobby they pursue on the side. For Tatum, that’s sports. “I could probably work at ESPN,” she said. Her love of sports truly runs the gamut – from basketball and football, all the way down to the Little League World Series. Did we mention she’s a foodie as well? There is something truly poetiq about being versatile.

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

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Lindaluz Carrillo and the Art of Collaboration

If you live in Hartford, or take some time to explore the city, there’s a chance you’ve seen the work of Lindaluz Carrillo.

Carrillo, an urban pop artist who specializes in graphic design, explores alternative typography by incorporating elements of urban lifestyle, pop culture, and hip-hop into messages of self-love, empowerment, and activism. From commissioned murals at Parkville Sounds, Impact Academy and Barbour St to the more ephemeral at Heaven Skatepark, Carrillo’s work stands out among the rest, featuring bold letter styles written in both Spanish and English.

Art has been a part of Carrillo’s life since she was very young, collaborating on murals with her elder artistic counterparts. She enjoyed the process and bonding over the act of creation, and it became something she wanted to continue on her own. She started off in the local arts community trying to get her voice heard, and as she’s grown in experience and notoriety, younger artists have been looking to her as an artistic/community resource.

“The younger generations are what builds culture and what keep it sustainable,” Carrillo said. “I can see the impact that my work has.” She wants her work to encourage others to expand on what they’re doing. Creating art with her community is essential to her creative process. In addition to surveying a space for a mural commission, she builds relationships with the people dependent on the space to write the story of her future work. She narrows down ideas with the client, and strives to make the process a combination of structure and freeform.

Lindaluz Carrillo’s work at Parkville Sounds (image c/o Parkville Sounds)

A mural artist in her own right, Carrillo has always valued collaboration as a crucial part of her artistic process. One of her recent projects, “You Are Loved,” is a group effort with Fernando Garcia, Mina Echevarria, fellow typography artist Matt Godzik and Angela Godoy. Carrillo knows these artists through many different means, but it meant even more to work with Godoy on this particular project, given they went to the same arts-focused high school and college. Carrillo also collaborates with artists outside of the visual medium. For a while, she shared a multidisciplinary studio space in Parkville with two other Hartford-based artists: Jasmin Agosto, curator and producer with SageSeeker Productions, and recording artist Brandon Serafino.

These days, Carrillo is creating. For her, the pandemic has allowed more time to explore ideas. Instead of working on a client’s time, she is diving deeper into her own ideas in both a creative and critical sense. However, working with clients and other artists is something that can’t come soon enough.

(photos c/o Lindaluz Carrillo)

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

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Rebecca Maloney’s Mixed Media, Methods, and Materials

Every artist’s path is different. For Rebecca Maloney, it took some time away from home to feel the warm embrace of Hartford’s artist community upon her return. After graduating art school, she felt called to her grandmother’s attic after her passing, where she found boxes of old magazines. It was from this collection of magazines that came material for her first solo exhibit.

A World of My Own

After a stint out west, Maloney returned to the Nutmeg State and started holding her own painting and mixed media workshops, based on her experiences participating in similar workshops elsewhere. More recently however, she’s placed a heavier emphasis on mixed media for her personal portfolio.

“While playing with materials, you’re learning about them,” said Maloney. Learning about interactions between materials is essential to her discovery process. Maloney is more interested in stepping away from the formal aspects of the result, rather than working towards a specific goal. The juxtaposition of methods and materials leads to future uses of both in different contexts.

Mixed Media is a highly experimental medium, but it doesn’t have to be high concept. For Maloney, her primary form of artistic expression is much more improvisational; each layer not only builds upon the other, but also inside every layer is a lesson about that particular material and how it interacts with other materials. Maloney also enjoys collaborating with people and sharing ideas. This becomes particularly helpful in her work with ActUp Theater, a Hartford-based theater company that explores social justice issues and current events in its productions.

Upon returning to the Hartford area, she was recruited to help with set design for the company. She was (and remains) excited for the challenge, for creating an entire production aesthetic and working with a production crew is a very different process than working alone in one’s studio…and that’s what she loves about being an artist – “not having something and then suddenly having something” – she’s inspired by spontaneous existence. For Maloney, working with ActUp ignites a different part of her brain, allowing her to see creativity in different ways.

The relationship of an individual to its surroundings is something Maloney takes very seriously: her role as a community-minded artist. If you follow her on any of her social media accounts, you’ll see not only her own work, but a variety of work and resources she shares from other accounts, local and otherwise. Having a community-oriented mindset holds you more accountable to figure out what resources you have and how to use them to make a community better.


When the pandemic crisis hit our own community, Maloney became one of many artists who continue to share their own work along with others’, as well as resources and virtual experiences. Maloney partnered with Diana Aldrete, a professor of language and cultural studies at Trinity College, on #ArtUnQuaratined, a month-long workshop dedicated to art journaling they broadcast on Instagram live through May 2. Yet with all of this sharing, she isn’t putting as much pressure on herself to create, and that’s something that can apply to any artistic medium or job. Maloney is giving herself permission to not overload, which is something we should all consider.

(photos c/o Rebecca Maloney)

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

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Grants Coffee Talk: COVID-19 Concerns in Grantmaking

On March 18th, grantmakers from across the globe came together to discuss how they are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis.  This open conversation revolved around two prompted questions.

                What changes are you currently rolling out?
                What changes are you considering?

These questions resulted in the overarching topic of “What can we as grantmakers do to make the lives of our grantees easier?” There were many different ideas and some grantmakers shared steps they are taking to alleviate the strain their grantees are facing. 

Some foundations and organizations have had the capacity to create emergency funding, see a comprehensive list at https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/#FUNDING

Besides the creation of new funds grantmakers are looking at their current grant portfolios and reevaluating the processes in place.  Changes to requirements, deadlines and applications are being made to meet the needs of grantees and granting organizations.     

While all of these items address the short term needs of grantees, grantmakers are also thinking about the long-term and what their organizations grants are going to look like over the course of the next year. Will they increase funding, will they have to decrease funding, will there be more operating support, more program support?

These are all issues that the Arts Council is currently addressing. We have already extended the Summer Hartford Events Grant deadline to April 17th, and are having one on one discussions with our grantees on how we can support them during this time of uncertainty.


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Pots & Pickles: Ying Ye at the Intersection of Food, Identity, and Culture

There is no doubt that collaboration and creativity are intertwined.

For her most recent group show Relics | Remnants at the Farmington Valley Arts Center (FVAC) with fellow Artist-in-Residence Trae Brooks, multidisciplinary artist Ying Ye not only found inspiration in Brooks’ work (and vice versa), but she relied on the help of her family, friends, and professors.

Speak from the Ground, Video Installation, Clay on Canvas and Mixed
Mediums, Light filter, Media Player, Terracotta, and Electoral Cores.

Ye commented about how it’s rare to see a six-month program like their Artist-in-Residence program. The mere space/facility sharing the artists experience gives them the additional advantage of skill-sharing and mentorship across disciplines and career-levels. As an alumna of Hartford Art School with degrees in both Painting and Sculpture, she has found a considerable amount of peace in another discipline: Ceramics.

Spouts, Widow Installation, Brown Clay, Red Pepper, Curry, Black Pepper,
Rice flour, Isomalt, Wood power, and Porcelain.

The availability of facilities at FVAC allowed Ye to use her imagination and truly create multidisciplinary yet installations. She incorporated her art school foundation with new Ceramic work in her installations, Eating Pickles Together in the Reproduction of the Home and Speak from the Ground as part of Relics | Remnants. By mixing clay with modeling paste to create a canvas “lip,” Ye mimicked the crack in a clay pot. She also included micro-installations in the gallery windows using tiny pots she made in the FVAC ceramic studio. 

Ye’s statement about the Chinese government-mandated demolition relocation is illustrated in Speak from the Ground. The vessel, housing a small screen video of Ye forming bubbles under water (mimicking the fermentation process) is meant to preserve tradition, culture, and identity within the walls that are cracking and falling down around it.

Ying Ye, interior of Speak from the Ground

Apart from the political, Ye’s work is also very much about language, communication, and embodiment. Ye is inspired by her own experience as a Chinese immigrant, working in her family’s restaurant. For this reason, she is very attuned to taste and smell, which is why her other installation in this show centered around the act of sharing a meal.

While her father provided a few dishes, it was mostly Ye who prepared different fermented dishes for reception guests to enjoy as part of the installation. The relationship between food and identity is prevalent throughout Ye’s life, and it was brought to the forefront in this show.

Ye has actively continued to pursue this relationship in her work, picking up catering shifts for inspiration and serving as a Sculpture technician at her alma mater. Ye has plans to apply for other residencies, internships, and eventually grad school.

(photography: Chris Herrera)

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

Eating Pickles Together in the Reproduction of the Home, Home Installation,
Fermentation Pot Collaboration with Erika Novak and Drew Darley, Table, Mats, Broad-
leaved Epiphyllum, Dry Flowers, Lamp, Curtain, Painting Based on the Ye Family
Photograph, Pickles, Bowls from Ye’s home, Chopsticks, Tea Sets, Serving Wares.
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The City That Built All Others: How the New Britain Industrial Museum is Putting the Hardware City on the Map

The New Britain Industrial Museum turns 25 this year. Our mission has not changed much since 1995; we collect, preserve, and share the stories of inventors, innovators, and objects — all made in New Britain.

The New Britain Industrial Museum’s collection primarily comes from folks who used to work in one of the city’s factories. Their donations come with their stories: shelves of coffee percolators from a former supervisor at Landers, Frary & Clark (better known by their brand name, “Universal”). Overflowing containers with strapping tools made by Stanley Works, brought in by a former Stanley employee. Fafnir ball bearings of all sizes from Museum founder and former Fafnir VP of Engineering, Horace B. Van Dorn III. Their memories inform the stories we tell visitors from around the world, and make objects relatable.

Why New Britain? It was not fated to be a manufacturers’ mecca. No rivers? No water power. No water power in the early 19th century? No industry. Innovation: new ideas, methods, and devices. Frederick T. Stanley purchased the village’s first steam engine, and the boom began. More people could work on more machines to produce more hardware.

One intriguing thing I have learned since I started talking to machinists (who come to tour the Museum and see New Britain’s wares) almost daily: machinists are critical observers and streamline their process at every possible moment. Their creative problem-solving leads them to innovate. This is important to conceptualize: every worker holds the potential to make significant change. With a workforce as robust as New Britain’s, you can imagine the impact every person in the city could have.

This has been our goal for all of the New Britain Industrial Museum’s 25 years: you see the impact generations of innovators had in shaping New Britain’s legacy as you walk through the exhibits. That makes it easier to put yourself in the inventor’s seat. What do you want to change, and how would you do it?

If they could make waves in 19th century New Britain, I bet you can today.

Sophie Huget
Director, New Britain Industrial Museum

Visit the New Britain Industrial Museum!
59 West Main Street, New Britain, CT 06051
Admission: $5/adults, $3/students & seniors
Open Wednesday 12-4, Thursday & Friday 2-4, and Saturday 10-4.
Free hours every Saturday morning from 10-12.

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

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Spring Hartford Events Grant Awards Announced

We’re proud to award funding to 10 Greater Hartford organizations through the spring Hartford Events Grant program, which is made possible by support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Recognizing the value that the arts bring communities, this program funds events that honor culture and traditions, build community, energize neighborhoods and support local businesses.

“We are constantly impressed by the quality and quantity of what the Arts and Culture community contributes to our region,” said Greater Hartford Arts Council CEO, Cathy Malloy. “The Hartford Events Grants give us the opportunity to invest in organizations that truly make a difference by bringing people together through arts and culture, and making a significant impact on the quality of life in our city.”

A panel of community volunteers evaluated proposals based on the strength of the artistic focus of the event as well as its alignment with the Arts Council’s community impact goals. In total, 10 grants were given to local organizations, including:

Women Composers Festival of Hartford
Project: 2020 Women Composers Festival of Hartford, March 19-21, 2020
The Women Composers Festival of Hartford celebrates women composers through scholarly presentations, workshops, and performances. The 2020 festival will feature a world premiere composition by Melika Fitzhugh performed by Craft Ensemble.

Trinity College
Project: Trinity College International Hip Hop Festival, March 27-29, 2020
The annual festival, in its 15th year, is a student-run event that seeks to celebrate hip hop music and culture from around the world.

Hartford’s Proud Drill Drum and Dance Corp.
Project: 5th Annual East Coast Explosion, June 2020
The East Coast Explosion is the Drum and Dance Corp.’s annual Stomp the Violence drill, drum and dance competition. The event is designed to celebrate nonviolence, connect with civic leaders and the local police department.

To see a full list of recipients, please visit LetsGoArts.org/Recipients.

– Dan Deutsch, Marketing & Communications Manager

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Welcome to 2020!

Carribbean American Dance Co. for Hartford Live!

2019 was an incredible year.


free Summer Times newspapers passed out at Summer in the City events


free music lessons provided by local musicians on Make Music Day


organizations supported through funding and professional resources


grants given to support arts organizations, events and projects in our region


pop-up performances through Hartford Live! in August and September

As we look forward to a new year, here’s a look back at a few of the things we loved about last year and what we’re excited about in 2020. Be sure to follow us on social media for even more news and updates!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn

#letsgoarts | #makeartpossible

Make Music Hartford: Hartford knows how to make noise. We produced over 100 musical events in one day!
Summer in the City: In partnership with the City of Hartford, sponsored by United Technologies and Stanley Black & Decker, we welcomed thousands of residents and visitors to our city almost every weekend this summer.
Neighborhood Studios: We’re proud to offer paid apprenticeships to 100 high school youth each summer, giving young creatives a jumpstart on their artistic careers.
We produced dozens of pop-up performances throughout the summer, connecting residents and tourists alike to the arts.
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