The Greater Hartford Arts Council (GHAC) launched its United Arts Campaign that runs through June 30. What are its goals for the campaign and how does that compare to last year’s campaign?
The United Arts campaign raises critical funding for more than 150 local arts and heritage organizations across Greater Hartford. Supporting all of Hartford County’s 34 towns, we are the largest independent arts council in New England and eighth largest United Arts fund in the country. As we approach our 40th anniversary next year, we’ll have cumulatively raised more than $50 million for regional organizations. This has helped to position Greater Hartford in the top 6 percent of metropolitan areas in North America, in terms of arts and culture. Our goal for the 2010 campaign is just over $4 million, with a more holistic focus of arts keeping us healthy: mind, body, and spirit. The campaign supports neighborhood arts and heritage grants, general operating support, and community events. Funds infuse money into everything from programming, to free performances, to facility improvements, to staffing. If you’ve visited an art museum, run in the Hartford marathon, enjoyed Monday night jazz, or seen a play recently, chances are the event has been touched in some fashion by United Arts support.
How do the campaign’s goals jibe with a recently published report by the Americans for the Arts that shows an overall 4.2 percent decline for the arts sector from 2007 to 2008?
It’s true that arts patronage does tend to follow the economic cycle; however the number of working artists and arts organizations is steadily growing. The disconnect is with ticket sales; right now there is unbalance between art programming and audience. Plus, where government and corporate funding has declined, we’ve had to adjust our strategy to connect more deeply with community on a personal level. Community-based initiatives and talking with employees through workplace campaigns, finding ways to reach donors on a one-to-one level is critical. We’re also strengthening and developing new partnerships through initiatives in education and healthcare.
Does the GHAC find this statement to be true locally: “Public participation in the arts is increasing on the Internet, at ethnically and culturally specific organizations and at home as people create their own art. Attendance at mainstream arts organizations is in a steady decline.”
Audience demand has suffered, yes, but we agree that is mainly because how the public participates in and consumes art is in flux. Folks are looking to put themselves in the picture literally. They are involving themselves in the art-making experience. They are taking photos, making movies, and securing jobs in creative industries. Plus, technology is changing how the arts are accessed. More arts organizations are using the Web and social media tools to share program content with their patrons. Likewise, we’re looking at how we communicate with subscribers and donors to make sure we’re delivering information that is relevant and available to all.
What are GHAC’s goals for the coming years? Where does it see growth potential for the arts in Greater Hartford? Is it in ethnic and culturally specific organizations?
You will see us becoming a strong force for arts advocacy at the federal level. We will lead strategic collaborations and will champion efforts that focus on making the highest and best use of every revenue dollar, while continuing to reduce our expense infrastructures. We’ll also establish new bonds within the education and healthcare industries, in order to strengthen our outreach in the community.