Congratulations to our 2021 Arts Inspiration Award honorees!

Every year, we give Arts Inspiration Awards to honor individuals and organizations that share our commitment to using the power of the arts to create a stronger community. The recipients demonstrate extraordinary leadership and dedication to supporting the arts and seek to inspire others to join their efforts.

The 2021 award recognizes the outstanding contributions of those who went above and beyond to support the arts and cultural sector in its most challenging year in recent history. Both the Stevensons and the Diamonds made relief funding possible for individual artists, while our longstanding corporate partner, Travelers, made relief funding for arts organizations possible. Travelers also supported our Press Play Music Series to create paying gigs for local artists.

By making relief funding possible and supporting organizations and artists in a time of dire need, each of our honorees were heroes for the arts. Please join us in congratulating all of the 2021 Arts Inspiration Award recipients! 

Lenny and BJ Diamond

In Honor of their brother, Joseph Diamond

Joseph studied piano as a young boy, growing up in Liberty, New York and was introduced to jazz in junior high school. In college, he started out as a music major at the University of Miami and transferred to the University of Hartford, where he studied with Jackie McLean, Nat Reeves, James Williams, Jaki Byard and Walter Bishop, Jr. and became involved in the Hartford music scene.

Joseph’s first CD, “Not Your Typical New Yorker,” really captures who he was. And it goes way beyond his music. He was NYTNY in the way he lived his life, loved his family, neighbors and friends and went out of his way to support, lend a hand, be a friend, show kindness to strangers, make people laugh—nothing “typical” about him. Many have been touched by Joseph’s musical gifts, generosity of spirit, wonderful sense of humor, joy of living and so much more.

“Joseph is always in our hearts; always an inspiration to be our best and give of ourselves to make the world a little bit better, one smile, one song, one moment at a time.”

Joseph’s family is committed to sharing his music and carrying on his spirit. As Basileus Music, the Diamond family supports the causes Joseph believed in and lived every day of his life, encouraging musicians and helping everyone with simple, unexpected acts of kindness and thoughtfulness.

Keith and Catherine Stevenson

Catherine and Keith Stevenson moved to Connecticut in 1978 from Boston, she as a professor of English literature at the University of Hartford and he as an executive at Aetna Life & Casualty.  Catherine retired from the University after teaching, serving as Dean of the Faculty and the Director of International Studies.  Keith held senior positions in the Group Health Division of Aetna and at the Hartford Insurance Group.

They share interests in all the arts, in research in pediatric medicine, in education, and in helping to support people whose lives have been disrupted by adversity. For these reasons, they were drawn to support the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Musician’s Relief Grant Program in 2021.  In addition, they support many charities in our region and elsewhere.  In addition to the GHAC, those closest to their hearts are the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where Keith served on the Board for many years. Catherine teaches in the President’s College at the University of Hartford and volunteers at the Connecticut Humane Society.


Travelers has been around for more than 165 years and has earned a reputation as one of the best property casualty insurers in the industry because it takes care of its customers, agents, brokers and employees. The company’s expertise and focus on innovation have made it a leader in personal, business and specialty insurance and the only property casualty company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It generated revenues of approximately $32 billion in 2020 and has approximately 30,000 employees across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Travelers believes that strong communities are sustained by educational and economic opportunities. With a focus on equity and inclusion, the company targets its giving and volunteerism to nonprofits and initiatives that improve academic and career success, develop thriving neighborhoods and create culturally enriched communities. The company recognizes that the arts create a deep understanding of different cultures and traditions, and it supports organizations that stimulate creativity, provide access to various forms of art across many audiences and contribute to a vibrant economy.