Mergers don't only happen in the corporate world. They sometimes make sense in the nonprofit sector too. A textbook example can be found in Hartford's Asylum Hill neighborhood, where the venerable Hartford Conservatory has announced it is merging with the highly regarded Jumoke Academy charter school.
This is good news. Jumoke plans to open a 160-student middle school with an emphasis on music and the performing arts next September in the conservatory's Asylum Avenue campus. The campus will expand from its two red-brick Victorian buildings to include a third historic structure, the long-vacant Victorian at 852 Asylum.
Preserving these buildings is a win for the look and feel of the neighborhood. It means the conservatory will continue on, sponsoring its after-school and summer tuition-free programs for city youngsters from low-income families.
The conservatory was founded in 1890 by some of the city's leading families as the Hartford School of Music. Generations of Hartford youngsters went to the conservatory for music lessons, and its concerts and recitals were among the city's leading entertainments for years.
But recent years have been a struggle, for a number of reasons, including competition and rising costs. Its diploma program -- for two or three years of intense arts instruction -- was made obsolete by modern job qualifications, which require a broader course of study and a college degree.
But thanks to the merger, only the diploma program will be lost. Students will still be able to take music lessons there, and the institution will still be a vital part of the neighborhood and the city. "I can't imagine a better outcome," said the conservatory's interim executive director, Linn McGlade. We agree.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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