Dan Deutsch

Faces of #MakeMusicHartford: Amanda Roy

We’ve had the honor of collaborating with countless hard-working individuals and organizations this year, and we wanted to take the next few weeks to highlight the work they’ve done not only for MMH, but for the Greater Hartford community as well. In these interviews you’ll learn a little bit about their connection to the arts, why they love Hartford, and what they’re most looking forward to on June 21!

In our first post you’ll learn about Arts Council Community Programs Manager Amanda Roy and how her deep connection to Hartford inspired her to bring this international celebration to the capital city.

photography by Mike Marques

What is your instrument(s)? If not a singer/musician, what is your connection to the arts?
I play the drums.

What do you do other than music/the arts – professionally? Hobbies?
Professionally I’m the Community Programs Manager at the Greater Hartford Arts Council. I have one of the coolest jobs. Besides being involved in music and other arts, I love adventure and spoiling my dog Rigby. My husband and I are currently working on canoeing in all 50 states plus DC and Puerto Rico. We’re doing as much as we can with our own canoe so that means a lot of road trips. After 3 years we’re a quarter of the way done.

What drew you to MMH?
Make Music Day came to me in the fall of 2017. The Make Music Alliance and the CT Office of the Arts pitched the program to regional arts council in CT. I couldn’t turn down coordinating the program in Hartford. Our state, region and capitol city are so rich with musical talent. The possibilities for this program are endless.

What drew you to Hartford and what is making you stay?
There really is so much to do in Hartford. You can find something interesting to see, hear, or experience every day or night of the week. When I moved to Hartford in 2007 I felt an instant connection to the city that hasn’t faded.

What is your favorite genre(s) of music?
Can we consider 90’s music a genre? I’m kind of stuck in a time warp when it comes to music. I primarily listen to alternative rock, hip hop and R&B from the 90’s or jazz.

Top 3 favorite things about Hartford
1. Monday Night Jazz at Black Eyed Sally’s is one of my favorite things to do in Hartford

2. I’m a local beer fan. I love hanging out at Hog River Brewing.

3. The whole arts scene! I’m surrounded by the arts all the time while I’m working, but also when I’m not working. I try to get out there and support local artists as much as I can outside of work too.

What part of MMH are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to seeing the entire program come to life. I really love our “Spotlight Events.” These are all participatory activities where musicians and non-musicians can take lessons, play in groups, or sit in for jam sessions. I spend a bunch of time coordinating these with the super talented musicians who lead them. I enjoy seeing how they turn out. This year we have over 20 Spotlight Events including jam sessions, free music lessons, play along events for certain types of musicians. There’s going to be so much going on!  I’m also looking forward to getting behind a drum kit at some point during the day. It’s going to happen. I’m just not sure where yet!

Hopes/dreams/wishes for Hartford
I’d love to see more artists involved in decision making when it comes to planning for public spaces, not just public art. Artists bring different perspectives and problem solving strategies to the table. Their voices are critical in all aspects of community planning.

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Summer in the City Spotlight #3: Puerto Rican Parade & Festival del Coqui

Asopao.  Arroz con gandules y lechon.  Tostones.

Do any of these ring a bell? One of them is the national dish of Puerto Rico; yellow rice and pigeon peas with roasted pork. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, just wait until June 2nd. With one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the country, Hartford is set to be a destination for the Puerto Rican Parade & Festival del Coqui.

The Parade & Festival are organized by the Connecticut Institute for Community Development Puerto Rican Parade Committee (CICD), which is “committed to preserving [Puerto Rican] culture by promoting leadership and education, celebrating traditions and being involved in community service for the Puerto Rican and Hispanic community.” Board President and Vice Chairperson Sammy Vega works with 9 other Board members and 50 volunteers to organize this massive annual undertaking. “The Board is made up of members from the cultural, nonprofit, education, government, and business sectors,” says Vega. “They bring an array of skills, ideas and points of view to the organization, which translates into strategic thinking to propel CICD forward. They are the new generation of leaders who continue to promulgate the work done by many others who came before them.”

The Parade and Festival are indeed not only a celebration of Greater Hartford’s current Puerto Rican population, but also the first generation of immigrants who arrived in Connecticut in the 1840’s. In addition to being cultural and historical in nature, the celebration is also meant to be educational. With the help of national brands like GOYA and Tito’s Handmade Vodka and local partners such as Dressler Law and Access Health CT, CICD and its volunteers are excited to continue showcasing and educating the public about Puerto Rican culture. Asked what his favorite part of the event is, Vega was quick to reply, “seeing people from all nationalities enjoying our beautiful culture, music, food…” That is really what Summer in the City is all about – a celebration of Hartford’s many different cultures.

If, for whatever reason, you aren’t able to take part in the Parade (as if asopao, sweet and sticky rice cooked in ginger, milk, coconut milk, raisins and rum isn’t enough of an incentive), CICD has partnered with WTNH News 8 to broadcast the parade live. Festival attendees can also look forward to performances by local and national artists including salsa singer Hector Tricoche, Domenic Marte, and Hartford native Shorty C.

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A Day at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center

Earlier this month, the Greater Hartford Arts Council joined volunteers from United Healthcare at The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center. The Center’s Artisan program is dedicated to teaching the art of weaving to the blind and visually impaired, and anyone 55 and older.

Executive Director Katie Glass led the group of volunteers on a tour of the Weaving Center’s main floor gallery and various work rooms–where staff members assist blind and low-vision artisans craft an array of woven goods. More experienced artisans work independently at looms spread throughout a designated studio space. The volunteers also got a firsthand look at various hand-woven scarves, blankets, and stuffed monsters made in-house and available for purchase in the gallery room.

“Our Sewing Room is where we do all of our own finishing twisting of our scarves, hemming, creating our bags, [stuffed] monsters, etc.” Katie mentioned.

On the Weaving Center’s second floor, Katie led the group through a layout of newly renovated classrooms, one of which was completed as recently as January. Further down the hall, the group toured the Fiber Room, where all donated fiber is organized and stored by the Weaving Centers’ creative director and volunteers. Various parts of the upper floor were still undergoing renovations, and Katie expects to have a newly renovated classroom in the near future. 

After the tour, Katie and the volunteers circled back to the sewing room, where they unraveled the seams on donated neckties and prepared hand-spun fiber to be used by the Center in future projects. In fact, the fabric from the neckties will be used in an upcoming Open House and Community Project at the Center on Saturday, June 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“This isn’t just an average arts center. Stephen Farrell, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New England says in a shared post via LinkedIn. “The work they do is truly outstanding.”

After a long day of honest work, easy conversation, and meaningful connections, Katie expressed gratitude to United Healthcare for funding the Weaving Center’s center-wide project: “The center-wide project allows all of our artisans to be involved in one central project, showcasing each artisan’s unique skills. This year’s theme is ‘Not Your Grandmother’s Weaving.’”

The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center provides a safe place to escape the hardships and isolation often faced by the blind and visually impaired. They also offer year-round classes for all ages. Proceeds from these classes help support their Artisan program. Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome, and tours of the Weaving Center and shop are offered Monday through Friday, year-round.

Supporting organizations like Hartford Artisans Weaving Center is part of our mission to improve lives and transform communities through the arts. Your support for the Greater Hartford Arts council helps us make it possible.

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Summer in the City Spotlight #2: Greater Hartford Latino Festival

Summer in the City may have seen a little rain in 2018, but one thing is for sure – Hartford knows how to bring the heat. You’ll find a particular explosion of Latin American culture with the Greater Hartford Latino Festival at The Church of the Good Shepherd on Wyllys Street this year on June 22 – with an old school “show-mobile” stage and all.

The Festival’s mission is to provide the Hartford community with an opportunity to experience traditional and contemporary Latin American culture through the presentation of performing arts. The Festival is led by Victor Luna, a community organizer well known throughout the community. Luna’s favorite aspect of the day is the community. “People who haven’t seen each other in years will run into each other and catch up, like old times.” However, the festival is not just about the heritage. “It’s not all just Latinos,” Luna says. “Everyone wants to be a part of our event, in any way they can.”

Luna’s company, Luna Productions, helps out with local events throughout the year like toy giveaways and Three Kings Day celebrations. The Greater Hartford Latino Festival is in its 5th year, and Luna promises crowds can look forward to the same excellent food and entertainment they’ve come to love.

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Summer In The City Spotlight #1: Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz

Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz 2018

Charles Christie, lead organizer of the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, has had a lifelong passion for Hartford, family and music. In 1996, he was invited by the board to build the presence of the festival, so he began by incorporating arts and crafts vendors to attract more visitors. Almost 20 food vendors and almost 60 Arts & Craft, Health & Human, and Services vendors set up shop on the Bushnell Park lawn every summer for three days in July.

“The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz is now woven into the fabric of the city.”

Christie is part of a 12-member team that creates this widely renowned “destination event,” as people fly in from around the country to participate in celebrating all things Jazz. On the more local spectrum, residents from the capital region have been known to block the weekend off as a “stay-cation” to make sure they grab a spot at the park, before the thousands of yearly visitors arrive. “Some Hartford families, schools, and businesses even use our event as a place to host their class reunions,” remarked Christie. “The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz is now woven into the fabric of the city.”

The theme of this year’s Festival is “A Mixed Bag of Jazz.” The event will feature performances of styles including New Orleans, Smooth and Contemporary, Latin, and ‘Straight Ahead.’ A personal highlight of Christie’s will be trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis’s headlining appearance on Friday, July 19. Other performers include The Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Rohn Lawrence, Jazmin Ghent, Julian Vaughn, Braxton Brothers, Studio 860/SideStreet Dancers, Personal Touch, Zaccai Curtis, Steve Clark, Jonathan Barber, and Nat Reeves.

Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz 2018

The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz certainly has come along way since its roots, having started literally on the back of a pick-up truck. “Being able to see all the hard work come to life in Bushnell Park is wonderful,” Christie added. “I enjoy when I can walk through the park and see the smiles, creative set-ups and be able to listen to the sounds transcend throughout the park for everyone to hear. It feels good…this is a feel-good event we are proud of.”

The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz will take place in Bushnell Park from July 19 through July 21. More information about the festival can be found on their website. Summer in the City, which is made possible by United Technologies, is a program of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, in partnership with the City of Hartford.

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Hartford Events Grant 2019 Awards

The Greater Hartford Arts Council is proud to award funding to 14 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 have seen the impact arts and cultural events have on communities time and time again,” said Cathy Malloy, CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. “Beyond entertaining and educating, the events that will receive this funding help spark conversations, bring people together and ultimately, help strengthen our community.”

A panel of community volunteers evaluated proposals based on the artistic focus of the event as well as its alignment with the Arts Council’s community impact goals. Three of the 14 grantees and their projects are listed below.

HartBeat Ensemble
Pegao – April 11-24, 2019
Award: $5,000
HartBeat Ensemble will present an original bilingual performance of Pegao, a story of a 70s-era Puerto Rican family struggling with identity, mainland loyalty and female sterilization. The performance will be held at the Carriage House Theater.

Hartbeat Ensemble’s “Gross Domestic Product”

Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO)
Hartt Connections – April 4, 2019
Award: $4,000
HICO will perform a concert of works by faculty and alumni at The Hartt’s Millard Auditorium on April 4, 2019. This concert is, in part, a celebration of the life and music of the late Hartt composition professor David Macbride.

Out Film CT
32nd Connecticut LGBT Film Festival – May 31 – June 8, 2019
Award: $5,000
The 32nd annual Connecticut LGBT Film Festival brings together the LGBTQ community, their allies and independent film lovers from around New England to Hartford to view up to 60 LGBTQ features, documentaries, and short films.

Hartford Events Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis. To learn more about the Arts Council’s Hartford Events Grant program and see a full list of recipients, please visit LetsGoArts.org/HEG.

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ART of Health Grant Program to Raise Awareness of Community Health Issues

The Greater Hartford Arts Council launched the ART of Health Grant program, which funds programs that are using the arts to raise awareness of the complex societal, environmental and personal factors that impact health and well-being. This program is made possible by a grant from the Cigna Foundation.

Rather than focus on cultivating health as primarily an individual and personal pursuit (promoting healthy lifestyles and exercising, for example), funded programs will acknowledge the inter-relatedness of the personal and societal dimensions of health an embrace the notion that participation in artistic activity itself can be a pathway to healthier living.

“The Cigna Foundation is pleased to support an imaginative, uplifting, arts-focused preventative health program that will engage the community in cultivating a culture of health, and which recognizes that health can be impacted by the joy of artistic endeavors,” said Susan Stith, Executive Director, Cigna Foundation.

Organizations that are funded through the program will serve the Greater Hartford community, with priority given to organizations serving economically challenged populations in cities such as Hartford, East Hartford or New Britain. A call for letters of intent is now underway. Details can be found on our website at LetsGoArts.org/ArtofHealth. Grant recipients from this pilot initiative will be announced in July 2019. The ART of Health program was also picked up in the Hartford Courant.

For additional information about our granting programs, visit LetsGoArts.org/Grant-Programs.

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Greater Hartford Arts Council Amplifies Travelers’ Impact on the Arts

The Greater Hartford Arts Council, in partnership with Travelers, has created the Travelers Arts Impact Grant Program to deepen and strengthen the company’s community investments in the arts and culture sector. Through this new program, the Arts Council will allocate grants provided by the Travelers Foundation to organizations in the city of Hartford that provide education related to the arts, develop multicultural understanding and enhance the community.

 “The arts help to create vibrant communities, enhance academic success and form new cultural connections,” says Erin Haberman, Director of Community Relations at Travelers and Senior Program Officer for the Travelers Foundation. “The Arts Council has an extensive track record of supporting relevant nonprofits in the Hartford region, and this relationship will enable us to reach more people through the arts and make an even greater impact in the community.”

This new program is aimed at creating a culturally enriched community, which is a key focus for Travelers and the Arts Council. The first set of grants, which are by invitation only for the first year of this initiative, will be announced in March 2019. The Travelers Arts Impact Grant Program follows other recent corporate partnership expansions for the Arts Council, including the Summer in the City program with United Technologies, the Arts + Wellness Grant Program made possible by UnitedHealthcare and a summer event series sponsorship with Stanley Black & Decker. Additional corporate partnerships are being planned and will be announced in the coming months.

For additional information about the Arts Council’s granting programs, visit LetsGoArts.org/Grants. To learn more about Travelers’ community support, visit Travelers.com/Community.

The Greater Hartford Arts Council helps to improve lives and transform communities through the arts. We inspire all people to participate and invest in the arts in their region, so that together, we can create a thriving, vibrant community that is united by art.

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Charter Grant 2019 Awards

The Greater Hartford Arts Council is proud to award funding to 21 arts and cultural organizations through its signature Charter Grant program, which provides unrestricted funding to arts and cultural organizations to help address their most critical needs. We are excited to welcome four new organizations into the program: Cuatro Puntos, Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, Queen Ann Nzinga Center, and Spectrum in Motion.

A performance of “Music from the African Diaspora” at Queen Ann Nzinga Center

Cuatro Puntos is dedicated to intercultural dialogue and universal access through the performance, writing, and teaching of music. One of their programs, Music Moves Hartford “Downtown Singers,” gives those who have experienced homelessness and hunger the opportunity to come together in song and use music for means greater than itself.

The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center preserves, promotes, and teaches the craft of hand-weaving. In addition to teaching classes for all ages, curating exhibits and running sales, they also run an artisan program for the blind and visually impaired, and anyone 55 and older. The Weaving Center provides a safe space to escape the isolation common to people in their circumstances; they become valuable members of the artisan community where they are supported artistically and spiritually.

The Queen Ann Nzinga Center provides children with opportunities to connect within a community of peers and mentors, discover and hone their individual talents, succeed in a collaborative environment, and celebrate diversity. They promote family and community by honoring culture and tradition through the arts.

Spectrum in Motion is a contemporary dance theater ensemble dedicated to sharing the American Experience. They also provide dance education for Hartford’s children and young adults, beginning at age 4. Spectrum in Motion uses music and dance to tell stories, transcending the barriers that divide us: race, language, gender, economics, and “neighborhood.”

Spectrum In Motion at Charter Oak Cultural Center

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of the Greater Hartford Arts Council and those who support the United Arts Campaign,” says Dayna Snell, executive director of the Queen Ann Nzinga Center. “This grant will help us continue to serve young people of all races and abilities, helping build self-esteem, enhance life skills and foster creativity in a positive environment.”

Charter Grants are reviewed by panels comprised of Arts Council Board members and peers from the non-profit and arts fields. Their recommendations are reviewed by the Arts Council’s Board of Directors for final approval. Interested in serving on a Grant Review panel? Apply by January 31!

An artisan weaves at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center

Learn more about the Charter Grant program and check out a full list of recipients here.

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Make Music Winter

(photo: Nick Caito)

The weather outside was a little frightful, but the small and mighty crowds that gathered for our CityPlace Caroling and Winter Solstice Jazz Trail kept up the holiday cheer!

As the windy rain toppled umbrellas on an unseasonably warm Winter Solstice, The Music Moves Hartford Downtown Singers filled the CityPlace Lobby with song as they sang a 20 minute set of carols and other classics with a few members of local favorites, the Hartford Hot Several Brass Band. The contingent of almost 30 musicians/singers as well as passersby also had the opportunity to enjoy hot chocolate, generously provided by United Healthcare.

It wasn’t long before City Steam Brewery, the first stop on the Winter Solstice Jazz Trail, was alive with the contemporary stylings of jazz guitarist Dan Liparini along with drummer Kirk Woodard and bassist Matt Dwonszyk completing the trio! Chango Rosa Tacos was the perfect venue for Damian Curtis’s Latin Jazz Quartet with Dwonszyk (who would also later reappear with Sarah Hanahan’s quartet), trombonist Emmett Goods, and percussionist Nelson Bello. The third stop, Rocking Horse Saloon, familiar with country music fans, was host to pianist Andrew Wilcox, bassist Conway Campbell Jr. and Woodard returned on the drums for his second out of three stops. Saxophonist Peter Greenfogel led his own quartet at The Russian Lady for a steadily growing crowd of about 40 people with Wilcox, Campbell Jr., and drummer Jimmy Gavagan. Dwonsyzk and Woodard converged yet again for the fifth and final stop to join the Sarah Hanahan Quintet, complete with Hanahan on saxophone, Brian Simontacchi on trombone, and Mike Carabello on keyboard. Hanahan’s set capped off the Jazz Trail in a meaningful way as a nod to her alto sax idol, Jackie McLean, who founded the institute of the same name at the Hartt School of Music where a number of the night’s performers got an education.

The Arts Council would like to thank all of the musicians, venues, collaborators, and attendees for participating, and we’re already excited for June 21! Special thanks to Maurice D. Robertson and Nick Caito for their photography.

(photo: Maurice D. Robertson)
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