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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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Why We Give to the Arts

#GivingTuesday kicks off our 2018 Season of Giving fundraiser, “Why We Give to the Arts!” Our fundraising goal is $2018 and it will run until the end of the year.

The arts bring communities together, enable us to take risks, and give people a voice. The Greater Hartford Region is rich with arts and culture. From classes at your local arts center to visiting a museum, from theatrical performances to rehabilitative dance and movement, the arts give us a way to celebrate our present, honor the past, and dream of the future.

We celebrated #GivingTuesday by partnering up with Pietro’s Pizza on #garlicknotsforgood, where we invited the public into The Art Room at 100 Pearl to share why they give to the arts. In exchange, they got to grab a slice of pizza and some garlic knots! Here are just a few reasons why members of our community give to the arts:

Because we learn by teaching and teach when we learn.

To help Hartford grow into a vibrant scene

Because the arts made me who I am today

Creativity nourishes the individual soul and the spirit of our society

To showcase the multi-dimensional art presence so many overlook in Hartford

Because the arts have the power to bring communities together

Why Do You Give?

Our Facebook Fundraiser is up and running on our page! If you don’t have a Facebook or would rather give through our website, you may do so here.

 

 

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Little Theatre of Manchester’s “Kiss Me, Kate” Combines Contemporary and the Classical

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack

Little Theatre of Manchester
Dates: November 2 – 18, 2018
Times: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM / Sundays at 2 PM
Ticket Prices: $30 for VIP / $25 for General Seating (Student & Senior Discounts Available)

Kiss Me Kate is an ambitious show, using the play within a play device in a clever and witty way. In this case, the play is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. While this idea is innovative and works well, it also makes for a more elaborate production, what with the large cast, the many costumes from two different periods, and the way Porter’s songs serve both to move the contemporary story along and also to also enhance the Shakespearean scenes.

Pat Sloan, LTM’s Head Costume Designer, has had her challenges in bringing both decades to life. Kiss Me, Kate is set in the 1940s, while the Shakespearean scenes are circa 15th century. She and her team have been working diligently for months—cutting, sewing, collecting, and making costumes (many from scratch) for a cast of 30. The actors have several costume changes for a total of approximately 350 pieces. Pat also must consider historical accuracy, and if movement is required for the scene, the fabric must allow for dance.

Sloan and her team are sticklers for detail. For example, each costume is lined in cotton (to absorb sweat). Attention to each element is paramount, from the embossed roses on Bianca’s Renaissance wedding coat and dress to the two thugs in classic pinstripe suits and spats in the always wonderful number, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”

Kiss Me, Kate is an explosion of color and physical activity, highlighted by a magnificent two-story set, and those fabulous costumes. And with that incomparable Cole Porter touch of wit and gorgeous melody that distinguishes his very best work, it’s a show that lives up to its legendary reputation.

LTM.’s production, by the way, precedes the upcoming and eagerly awaited Broadway revival with Kelli O’Hara, expected in early 2019.

Dwayne Harris is the Executive Director of Little Theatre of Manchester, and he can be reached at dharris@cheneyhall.org.

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Where Are They Now Part IV: Art League of New Britain

One of the strengths of the Arts Catalyst program is that it meets people where they are at. All of the participants in the first cohort two years ago had different needs. They all went through the same consulting workshop, developed an innovation goal plan, and worked with Business Volunteers for the Arts. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll see they’ve all benefited from their participation. The fourth and final post in our Where Are They Now series shines the spotlight on Art League of New Britain (ALNB), the oldest organization in Cohort 1, and also the second oldest art league in the country!

From the ALNB Salon event, “At Home Abroad: American Women Artists in Late Nineteenth Century Italy”

During the preliminary consultation, each organization analyzed their Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, and Threats. Board members Christie Ward and Jim Brunelle served as representatives for ALNB, and like other organizations in the cohort, found that their strengths and challenges sometimes overlap. ALNB, founded approximately 90 years ago, is housed in a picturesque carriage house, first owned by local industrialist George Post. However, they struggle with usable space for growth. Ward and Brunelle ultimately settled on the goal to expand ALNB’s offerings by creating special workshops and lectures appealing to a broader and more diverse audience. “Jim and I had a great time during the innovation goal process. As a board, we had often talked about new ideas, but we had never engaged in such a detailed level of imagining and planning,” elaborated Ward.

“We were hoping for a professional who could bring a fresh perspective to the table, and we were not disappointed.”

After creating their innovation goal plan, Ward and Brunelle started working with marketing specialist Stephanie Glasgow of Women’s Health USA. “The BVA pairing was especially exciting for us. We were hoping for a professional who could bring a fresh perspective to the table, and we were not disappointed,” Ward said of Glasgow. “We also felt the process of guided self-reflection would be very valuable to our organization, and it was.” Brunelle added, “our BVA took appropriate time (in a busy schedule) to meet with board members to survey and assess survey responses to membership’s needs.”

From ALNB’s Connecticut Women Writers Panel

One of the major projects Glasgow helped with was a proposal template for ALNB’s Salon Series, a year-long schedule of events focused on thematically connecting visual art exhibits to a lively discussion of relevant current events and/or a live performance. The event template included a project abstract, organizational description and history, program review, event description, project timeline, budget template. Last year, ALNB held five Salon Series events with themes including Utopian/Dystopian literature, “Fake News,” American Women Artists in the 19th Century, Connecticut Women Writers Panel, and Un Año después de Maria, an exhibition and musical event held in conjunction with programming at the New Britain Museum of American Art in commemoration of the first anniversary of the Hurricane Maria disaster in Puerto Rico. “Without Stephanie’s encouragement, we might not have made the leap into this kind of new programming, which has attracted people who have never before visited ALNB,” commented Ward. “We plan to use remaining [Arts Catalyst] funds to offer additional Salon events in 2019.

Since participating in the Arts Catalyst program, ALNB has been able to expand their membership as well as actively promoting their programming. After surviving a flood in their gallery a couple weeks ago that could have seriously damaged an entire exhibition, they’re looking at capital improvements as well. “We are looking forward to improving our building by renovating the stables and expanding our gallery space,” reads a statement from the Board of Directors. “We also hope to hold more art exhibits and more Salon events. We would like to offer more classes and to seek out more opportunities for community engagement.”

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Our second cohort of small arts & culture organizations are currently in the midst of the Arts Catalyst program, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results!

 

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Hartford Symphony Orchestra Shifts Paradigm of Symphonic Music with “Intermix”

HSO Music Director, Carolyn Kuan

Thursdays are the new Fridays- haven’t you heard? HSO: Intermix is breaking the mold of orchestral music, offering a casual setting, cocktails, and a chance to be up close as Hartford Symphony Orchestra musicians perform innovative pieces by the world’s most sought-after composers. This season, we’re traveling around Greater Hartford to bring music to new audiences- and that starts with exciting venues.

On Thursday, November 8, we’re bringing HSO: Intermix to Upward Hartford, one of the most versatile locations in the area, with Appalachian Avalanche. Located at 20 Church Street on the Mezzanine Floor, Upward Hartford is revolutionizing the use of office space for young professionals in the downtown area. In an unexpected collaboration, they are teaming up with the Hartford Symphony to be a part of redefining the orchestral music experience. This relaxed event offers audience members a chance to experience classical and contemporary compositions while also sampling complimentary cocktails from Brockman’s Gin and mingling with friends. Where else can you enjoy a drink while also looking over the shoulder of a world-class percussionist? HSO: Intermix is truly working to shift the paradigm of live symphonic music.

Intermix at Onyx Moonshine

Adding to the flair of the unique venue, Appalachian Avalanche will also feature a refreshing programming combination. Missy Mazzoli, identified by The New York Times as, “one of the most consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York,” composed Still Life with Avalanche in 2008. Described by Mazzoli as a “pile of melodies collapsing in a chaotic free fall,” this piece highlights the juxtaposition between the calm and frenzy that are evident in day-to-day life. Contrast continues thematically throughout the program, with Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite providing a classical twist to the otherwise contemporary programing. Accompanying this American classical staple will be a large-scale video display of the original choreography by Martha Graham.

Between a mix of musical styles and artistic mediums, an exciting location, hand-crafted cocktails, and a group of your friends; there’s no shortage of reasons to spend your Thursday night with the Hartford Symphony as they present HSO: Intermix’s Appalachian Avalanche!

Intermix at Real Art Ways

Tickets for the event are only $25, $20 for HSO subscribers, and student tickets are available for just $15 with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at www.hartfordsymphony.org, or by phone at (860) 987-5900.

Amanda Savio is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Contact her at asavio@hartfordsymphony.org.

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Where Are They Now, Part 3: Southington Community Cultural Arts

There is a lot to be said about being at the right place at the right time, and that’s exactly where artist Mary DeCroce was in 2016. DeCroce, now Executive Director of Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA), along with a core group of fellow artists and colleagues had just ended a $1.2 million capital campaign to open Southington’s first community arts center. They heard about the Arts Catalyst program, and immediately saw the potential in how the new center, staff, volunteers, and already growing student population could benefit.

Before 2016, the art center was more nebulous: There were 10 people total, including assistants, who met every Saturday morning at the local branch of The Arc, an advocacy and human services organization. They started the program with a grant from the Barnes Trust through the Main Street Community Foundation. As soon as they opened in the historic Gura Building at 93 Main St, their student number tripled in size. Now entering their third year, SoCCA is made up of four rented studio spaces, a gallery, retail shop, an administrative office, weaving room, pottery studio, and several classrooms.

“I recognized that Southington, with 43,000 people, did not have a place for the arts. There were just a couple places to exhibit, there wasn’t adequate teaching space,” recalled DeCroce of the local arts and culture landscape. “I was pleading as an artist, ‘let’s have a space’” She used every platform she could to advocate for an arts center. As a winner of the Unsung Hero award at the YMCA, she was invited to give a 10-minute speech and remembers emphasizing, “we have to make room for the arts here, we have to have this in our town.” The speech was short and sweet, but it was also passionate. It was in the following Spring, when the Town Council was voting to demolish the Gura Building, that Town Council member Dawn Miceli reached out to DeCroce, expressing her support for the cause.

“Helping provide a home for the arts in our community has truly been the most rewarding initiative that I’ve been involved with during my tenure on the Southington Town Council. But beyond our beautiful physical space, SoCCA has just been a wonderful impetus for bringing an awareness of both the visual and performing arts – and their inherent benefits – to our citizens,” said Miceli, who currently serves as a trustee emeritus on the SoCCA board.

The arts center wouldn’t be where it is today without the Arts Catalyst program, according to DeCroce. In preparation for the innovation goal workshop, she brought in a few board members to help take SoCCA to the next level. “We needed to know how to run an arts center. How do we make this a working arts center when none of us had done anything like this in our life?” The innovation goal workshop, where they had the opportunity to learn from other cohort leaders’ experience running their respective arts center, was just the beginning.

DeCroce and the board then worked with a Business Volunteer for the Arts, who also happened to be a native of Southington. Wendy Ronitz-Baker, Principal Coach at Practical Results Coaching, worked with DeCroce on “every single facet” of starting a business as an arts center. Together, they laid out what would become the responsibilities as Executive Director: Public Relations, Program Oversight, Grant Administration, Board Liaison, Human Resources Management, Event Coordination, Building Maintenance, and Cash Management. There are even more duties that fall under her watch for now, until they hire an Assistant Director. Ronitz-Baker helped immensely with details and logistics which helped DeCroce focus on strategy and big picture, which is where they’re headed next. Ronitz-Baker recently led the SoCCA board retreat, enabling her to see the fruits of her labor and how far the organization has come.

So, where is SoCCA now? They have a massive underground pottery studio that holds six classes a week (with a waiting list). They run their signature All-Access program with 70 weekly class visits for students with disabilities. They host exhibits, performances, and other events. Now, DeCroce’s goal is keeping SoCCA vibrant. “We are now recognized in this short amount of time as a resource,” she said. By connecting with the Department of Developmental Services, their students come as far as Thomaston, Torrington, Waterbury, and Watertown. DeCroce beamed as she gave an example of SoCCA’s impact. “There’s a wonderful energy of creativity. [Our students] are so supportive of each other; they are so fun to work with.”

“The dream of having a space for the arts for all abilities and ages is now a reality and we are working hard to keep it successful and vibrant.”

SoCCA’s impact has been felt on many levels – the personal, communal, and municipal. “As an elected official, I am also grateful for the economic stimulus that the arts have had in our community. SoCCA has been a destination location for Southington and is now critically weaved into the fabric of our town – similar in nature to the Southington Drive-In, Mount Southington and so many other community gems,” said Miceli. In addition to keeping the center vibrant, DeCroce is shifting her focus to sustainability. They’ve been participating in a series of capacity-building workshops at the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, where she found out the center has been doing quite well considering its age. “We have grown rapidly in our first 2 years and are using every resource we have to keep the momentum of becoming one of the premier art centers in Connecticut. The dream of having a space for the arts for all abilities and ages is now a reality and we are working hard to keep it successful and vibrant.”

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Where Are They Now, Part 2: Windsor Art Center

How do you transform a volunteer-run community arts center founded in the Great Recession into a destination for visual and performing arts? That question is what the Windsor Art Center has been grappling with since its 2007 beginnings. The Windsor Art Center is the second of four organizations that completed the first cohort of the Arts Catalyst program in 2017, and it took very little time to reap the benefits.

Image: Mike Taylor

Their small but mighty marketing committee, including founding board member Holly Pelton, and current Vice President Neill Sachdev, entered the program with two main goals: Increase membership and increase revenue. Being all too aware that those goals are inherently connected, they knew that they needed a marketing plan in place to turn these goals into action. After their eye-opening experience at the innovation goal workshop, where they met with other program participants to take part in a S.C.O.T (Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and brainstorm actionable goals, they were assigned a Business Volunteer for the Arts who helped them develop this marketing plan. Business Volunteer for the Arts is a national skills-based management consulting program that pairs business professionals with non-profit arts organizations to help with high-level projects. They quickly realized that this plan would become a pivotal moment in the development of the organization. The creation of the marketing plan led them to institute the center’s first Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Image: Mike Taylor

“I’m confident, because of this grant, we’re going to make a difference that will be felt in the art center for at least a decade.”

“The thought was if anyone, from a volunteer to a board member, has the ability to add [information to] a centralized location where we can now understand who’s attending events, what they’re attending, what they’re spending money on, and keeping track of when their membership expires in a better way, we have the ability to remind them and share events they might be interested in,” said Sachdev. “It’s a completely new nucleus for the organization…I’m confident, because of this grant, we’re going to make a difference that will be felt in the art center for at least a decade.”

According to Pelton and Sachdev, the organization’s first decade saw endless events – exhibit openings, artist talks, lectures, and film nights – and they wanted to do even more, but fitting everything in while still making sure their volunteers had a healthy work/life balance was proving to be difficult. Ray Lamoureux, Marketing & Sponsorship Director for Taubman Properties, worked with the Windsor Art Center on sorting everything out. “There was a lot of good energy…but Ray did was help us take a step back, organize our thoughts, and put them in a way that made the most sense for what our organization was and where it was going,” added Sachdev. “Having a lot of great ideas is one thing, but being able to distill those ideas, being able to understand what you’re capable of doing and in what timeline – that’s what Ray helped us do.”

Image: Mike Taylor

It was working with Ray that began a significant chain of events. Sachdev commented on the fact that they are now instituting Quickbooks and the new CRM. “The ripple effect that will happen by having a more optimized website and a more efficient strategy with keeping track of members and funds, will enable us to grow both things.” Pelton added, “the fact that we were able to start the database is going to be the underlying fabric that will allow us to do these marketing ventures to continue to build awareness, as well as start to bring in more funding.” Since the art center is completely volunteer-run, Pelton and Sachdev believe, that with the right training, the volunteers will be able to use the database with ease, therefore freeing up time for leadership and Board committees to step away from the nitty-gritty and make more strategic moves. “It really will empower volunteers to feel like they’re making a bigger difference in the art center.”

Image: Mike Taylor

In addition to planning more and varied events, the art center has been actively engaging in their local community. They had not had many space rentals, but since receiving funding as part of the Arts Catalyst program, they have been able to offer the space for free to any nonprofit organization in Windsor. In addition, they’ve been collaborating with other organizations to put on events. “We just recently had a trivia night with the Windsor Library Association, and worked with a couple local businesses to get food and beer…everyone had a wonderful time, and now we’ve developed a relationship with another organization in town,” Sachdev recalls. “I think synergy between civic organizations is absolutely key right now.”

Image: Mike Taylor

The Windsor Art Center may only be starting its second decade, but it is at the center of local (and some national) history. Within just a few minutes radius you can visit several historical landmarks, parks, and restaurants. Given that this former freight house sits right next to the local Amtrak stop, the Windsor Art Center is well on its way to becoming a true destination.

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