The Arts Catalyst Cohort Program is an opportunity for nonprofit arts organizations in Greater Hartford to bring their organization to the next level of innovation alongside peers of the arts community. Fresh off of their performance at Big Red, I had a chat with Executive Director Terry Starks of Hartford’s Proud Drum and Drill to learn more about their ambitions and goals for the year and beyond.
Hartford’s Proud is a non-profit with a mission to integrate sound, movement and artistry in the overall development of youth and expose youth to bigger and greater opportunities so that they excel academically, socially, and artistically throughout life.
“We started in 2013 with 9 students, but now have more than 100 students participating! We’ve been so lucky to have students graduate, then come back to help with competitions and become mentors to younger members to help encourage them to be the best they can be.“
The motivation behind the start of HPDD came from a need in the community to have something for children and teens to do to keep them safe and involved in something positive.
“I’d been doing community outreach for Community Solutions. We had a survey that we were giving out and 100% of those surveyed said that the biggest concern amongst people in the community was safety and 87% of them said that kids had nothing to do. I met a group of students that I surveyed who’d already formed a small group and they just wanted a space to practice and be themselves. Before I knew it, I had them practicing in my backyard.”
“They love to be seen doing something positive.”
Hartford Proud Drum and Drill is very much a family that are not just inspired by being a positive force in the community; “We are inspired by each other! I know the kids definitely inspire me. Just seeing them smile and working together is enough for me to push them and it motivates me as well.” The students also have a creative hand in the choreography and music. “The kids are always coming up with something new. They one hundred percent are involved in everything that we create and do.”
Hartford Proud Drum and Drill has many dreams and aspirations. The kids have diverse interests and personal career goals with some wanting to be dancers, doctors and architects. One thing they all want is to continue their education and to continue making an impact
“As an organization, the goal is stability, consistency and occupancy. The kids themselves have all kinds of things they want to do. Some of them want to keep dancing; I have a few that want to be doctors and veterinarians. They definitely all want to go to college; they want to do everything!”
“We compete all over. They take this super seriously down south, it’s a great way for the kids to see what’s out there. We have another competition coming up in Delaware.” Starks says, ‘Whether they win or lose, they win more than they lose! Sportsmanship is very important to me and the parents.”
See for Yourself
HPDD is getting ready for their Stomp the Violence Dance Drum and Drill Competition on May 26th at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Tickets are $10 – $15 at the door!
Why Arts Catalyst?
“We are very interested in learning about how we can better support our organization so that we can serve even more students”