Meet Our Members: Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras

Today, Connecticut Arts Alliance begins a series of posts spotlighting its CAA members. The Membership Program, begun earlier this year, joins together arts organizations, artists, and arts patrons throughout Connecticut in building a strong arts and culture sector that benefits the arts and all Connecticut residents.

Young people achieve amazing things at GBYO. They develop their talents beyond what they thought possible and feel pride and joy in their accomplishments. The study of great music in an ensemble setting can be a transformative experience for young musicians, and GBYO’s mission is to provide that experience in a challenging, fun, and nurturing environment.

Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras has been providing music education and performance opportunities to young musicians since 1961, and it is now the largest youth orchestra in the region. Its developmentally progressive music program gives ensemble members the opportunity to play at the highest level both individually and collectively. Members are selected by competitive audition and come from all over Connecticut. GBYO exposes all of its members to all types of symphonic literature and enriches their musical education.

Saturday mornings, from September through mid-May, nine separate ensembles bring young people together for music, enjoyment, community, and learning. Through rehearsals and formal performances, young musicians gain valuable experience and an important sense of achievement and self-confidence, while fostering lifelong friendships and a love of music. GBYO strives for diversity and inclusion through outreach and a generous financial assistance program.


If you agree that the advocacy efforts of Connecticut Arts Alliance on behalf of arts and culture in our state are important, please consider becoming a Charter Member today!

Join Us for Arts, Culture + Tourism Advocacy Day

Join CAA and the Connecticut Tourism Coalition for Arts, Culture + Tourism Advocacy Day on April 8!

This is an opportunity to collectively show our political leaders how valuable we are to the future of Connecticut. Your presence and voice are essential during this budget planning process to highlight the tangible benefits of investing in our industries, from building new jobs to developing vibrant cities, attracting visitors and millennials, and to expanding state tax revenue.

LOCATION

Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Avenue
Room 1D
Hartford, CT 06106

SCHEDULE

9:00 a.m. Advocacy Day Prep Meeting – Exclusively for CAA Members

  • What to Expect at Advocacy Day
  • Legislative Session 2019 Update and Policy Recommendations
  • Tips for Advocating for the Arts
  • Brief Q & A

9:15 a.m. Registration + Exhibit Tables

  • Pickup your name tag and materials for the day.
  • Socialize, network, and visit tables from various arts, culture, and tourism partners from around the state.

10:00 a.m. Program

  • Welcome from hosts CT Tourism Coalition and CT Arts Alliance
  • Remarks from Wendy Bury (Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition) and Stephen Tagliatela (Saybrook Point Inn), co-chairs of the Lamont-Bysiewicz Transition Arts, Culture and Tourism Policy Committee
  • Remarks from legislators, including Representative Toni Walker and others to be announced
  • Remarks from the Department of Economic and Community Development, including Randy Fiveash from Office of Tourism, Liz Shapiro from the Office of the Arts, and others to be announced

11:30 a.m. Tourism Caucus Meeting

  • This meeting is open to the public and usually televised on CT-N, so a standing-room-only crowd from arts, culture, and tourism is essential to make our collective message clear.
  • Welcome from Senator Paul Formica and Representative Dorinda Borer plus remarks from other legislators in the caucus
  • CT Arts Alliance and CT Tourism Coalition have specifically invited representatives to speak to the caucus members
  • Agenda includes a discussion about changing their name to Arts, Culture, and Tourism Caucus

TO PREPARE FOR THE DAY

  • Tell the legislators who represent where you live and work that you are attending Arts, Culture, and Tourism Advocacy Day and invite them to the program and caucus meeting. Not sure who they are? Search for them here.
  • Educate yourself on our policy recommendation to increase arts, culture, and tourism funding, which CT Tourism Coalition, CT Arts Alliance, CT Humanities, Marine Trades Association, CT Restaurant Association, and, most recently, the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism have endorsed.
  • Plan your travel, especially if this is your first time in the Legislative Office Building (often referred to as the “LOB”). Here is an interactive map and the detailed directions for driving and public transit. Plan enough time to get through security.
  • Make a plan for lunch. There is a cafeteria in the Legislative Office Building, but you are also welcome to pack your own food and snacks.
  • Bring some swag! We encourage you to bring materials that represent you and your organization, but please plan to bring home these materials at the end of the event.

CT Advocates in DC!

On March 4 and 5, a small but impressive delegation of Connecticut artists, arts administrators, and advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day, hosted by Americans for the Arts.

The Connecticut contingent joined approximately five hundred other arts advocates from all fifty states and a few U.S. territories. Our state actually had the strongest showing from New England, and we impressed colleagues from some states of larger size! A day of inspiring and educational speeches, workshops, and planning sessions concluded with a visit to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where Broadway and Hollywood actor Brian Stokes Mitchell performed, and where Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sotomayor introduced legendary actor Rita Morena who gave the 32nd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy.

The following day, advocates converged on Capitol Hill, and our Connecticut delegates visited the offices of both Senators and all five Representatives to advocate for increased funding for the NEA and arts-related legislation. All of the Congressional staff was incredibly welcoming and supportive of the work we’re doing on behalf of the arts at home. Representative Joe Courtney spent several minutes with the group, just as he arrived back to his office on a flight from Connecticut. Newly-elected Representative Jahana Hayes was also available to speak with the group for a short time, and she’s eager to support both the arts and of course arts education. We were glad to see much art in the offices of all of our representatives too, and art from high school students around the country in the Congressional hallways.

Our Connecticut delegation was led by CAA Administrator Darren Farrington, who is also Executive and Artistic Director of No Boundaries Youth Theater in New Britain. CAA Board Members joining were CAA Vice President Dartanion Reed, Executive Director of Hartford City Ballet, and Daniel Fitzmaurice, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. They were joined by Kate McOmber, Vice President for Communications and Donor Relations at CAA Member Greater Hartford Arts Council, and by Laura Stetler, Program Manager at the Women’s Business Development Council, who is also a violinist, an arts administrator, and a military spouse (Active Duty Navy). Suzanne Kachmar, Executive Director of City Lights & Company in Bridgeport, joined for the first day of activities.

Our thanks to Americans for the Arts for organizing and hosting these important advocacy opportunities, and to all of our attendees from Connecticut. The Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day are held in March each year, and CAA would welcome more attendees from our State—including students, artists, performers, arts administrators, and arts advocates of all kinds!

Governor Releases Two-Year Budget

In an address to the state General Assembly today, Governor Lamont released a two-year proposed budget. (For his full proposal and background documentation, click here.)

Regarding arts items, the Governor’s proposal recommends maintaining flat funding in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021. His supporting documentation recognizes that “Governor Lamont’s budget maintains funding for arts and tourism programs. In Connecticut, tourism is a $14 billion economic driver that supports thousands of jobs statewide. The budget maintains over $4 million to market Connecticut as a premier destination for tourism and business growth under the Statewide Marketing program. Additionally, the budget maintains funding to support grants to arts and tourism entities throughout the region.”

The General Assembly has several weeks to come back with its proposal, and budget negotiations will begin. For other legislative proposals affecting the arts, click here.


To receive arts advocacy news and alerts, subscribe to our email list. To become a Charter Member of CAA and support our advocacy efforts on behalf of statewide arts and culture organizations, please click here.

Join Us Wednesday for Arts Policy Recommendations

On Wednesday, the Governor-elect’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Transition Policy Committee will present recommendations to the incoming administration.

The Committee is one of fifteen groups assembled by Governor-elect Lamont to make policy recommendations on issues ranging from education and healthcare to criminal justice and the economy.

Chaired by CAA Board Member Wendy Bury, the Committee has reported great progress in compiling detailed and innovative recommendations about how our industries can strengthen Connecticut.

Lamont painting

Governor-elect Ned Lamont with Kwadwo Adae this summer (Photo: Lucy Gellman)

Please join us this coming Wednesday December 19 from 10 – 11 a.m. at Goodspeed Opera House for the report by the Arts, Culture and Tourism Transition Policy Committee. Lieutenant Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz will represent the administration, and the public is welcome to attend.

Please extend this invitation to your staff, audiences, friends, volunteers, and Board of Directors. A strong turnout will demonstrate to the administration that the creative sector matters in Connecticut!

 

Lamont-Bysiewicz Transition
Arts, Culture and Tourism Policy Committee

Wendy Bury (Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition) – Co-Chair
Stephen Tagliatela (Connecticut Tourism Coalition) – Co-Chair
Elsie Chapman (International Festival of Arts and Ideas)
Scott Dolch (Connecticut Restaurant Association)
David Fay (The Bushnell)
Daniel Fitzmaurice (Arts Council of Greater New Haven)
Jason Guyot (Mashantucket Pequot Tribe/Foxwoods)
Jeffrey Hamilton (Mohegan Tribe/Mohegan Sun)
Min Jung Kim (New Britain Museum of American Art)
Kathleen Maher (Barnum Museum)
Jason Mancini (Connecticut Humanities)
Maria Miranda (Miranda Creative, Connecticut Tourism Coalition)
Vivian Nabeta (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center)
Michael Price (Commission on Culture and Tourism)
Lisa Scails (Cultural Alliance of Western CT)
Tony Sheridan (Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT)
Brett Thompson (Greater Hartford Arts Council)
Tina Tison (The Maritime Aquarium)
Steve White (Mystic Seaport)

CAA News and Updates

This page includes current and past news, updates, and blog posts. Please browse the page to learn more about Connecticut Arts Alliance and our advocacy efforts and education campaigns.

At the bottom of the right column of this page, you can enter your email address to receive a notification whenever this page is renewed.

It’s Time to CREATE THE VOTE!

Election Day
You’ve read the gubernatorial candidates’ responses to our questionnaire, you’ve learned where they each stand on issues affecting arts and culture, and now it’s time to VOTE!
Election Day is tomorrow! Here are three steps you can take to help get out the vote on November 6:
If you aren’t registered, Election Day registration is available at a designated location in each town. You will need to provide proof of identity and residency, and you must be registered by 8 p.m. in order to vote. Contact your local Registrar of Voters with questions about Election Day locations to register.

RECENT OP-EDS AND ARTICLES ON THE ARTS

Candidates Agree that Arts Are a Solution for Private Investment

Over the past months, we’ve collected responses to six questions about arts and culture from each of the gubernatorial candidates. In the final weeks before Election Day, we’ve focused on the candidates’ responses to specific questions. The spotlight this week is on arts, private investment, and tourism.

The Candidates Agree that Investment in the Arts Generates More Private Money for Connecticut

Solution for InvestmentThe nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $80 million in revenue to local and state government. Yet the state recently allocated only $4.2 million for arts and culture in next year’s budget, which represents a 60% decrease since 2009.

CTV: Will you support increased state arts funding building on this return on investment? If so, at what level and from what funding source?

LAMONT: Connecticut is facing a major fiscal crisis, and the next governor is going to have to make many tough decisions. With this in mind, while I cannot commit to increasing arts funding for the next fiscal year, I will commit to not decreasing funding for the arts and will actively work with my own network and our leaders statewide to support the arts and communicate the aesthetic and real economic value of the arts and culture industry.

STEFANOWSKI: One of my priorities is to fund programs that will economically boost the state. Arts and Tourism plays a important role in creating such economic growth. Given that arts and culture generate $80 million in revenue on $4.2 million, I would consider increasing general appropriations for arts and culture but I would really like to work with the business industry and the Alliance to to bring private investment to help further promote your goal.

GRIEBEL: We face a daunting fiscal challenge in the next biennium that will put pressure on all state allocations. I also emphasize our prism of 200,000 net new private sector jobs by 2028 through which we’ll evaluate all decisions. Given that prism and that answer and without making commitments to specific amounts or sources, I’m confident that we will invest creatively and strategically in arts and culture organizations and initiatives throughout our four years of leadership.

CTV: Each year arts and cultural events attract 10 million attendees with 15% coming from outside the state and 59% of those tourists coming specifically for arts and culture. Beyond featuring arts and culture in marketing efforts, how would you further capitalize on the arts as a cornerstone to CT’s vital tourism industry?

LAMONT: There is an opportunity to grow the number of visitors from out of state who attend our arts and cultural events. I would work closely with the Offices of Culture and Tourism to promote Connecticut’s reputation as an arts and culture destination regionally and nationally. Local leaders know their communities, and I will work with the Connecticut Arts Alliance, the Connecticut Alliance for Arts Education, your communities and local leaders to have conversations with the artists, restaurateurs and other cultural entrepreneurs who can offer the best insights on how the state can support their work. I will be a governor that listens.

STEFANOWSKI: I believe our arts and culture should be part of every pitch made to businesses that are interested in investing and expanding to Connecticut. Today’s workforce is diverse and they are looking to live in communities that offer those diverse experiences.

GRIEBEL: We will work to engage leaders in the tourism industry and in arts and culture organizations to develop a comprehensive, integrated, and sustainable strategy that fully exploits these two key areas of strength in Connecticut.


Create the Vote CT is a nonpartisan public education campaign to raise awareness and support for the arts among voters and candidates running for public office.

Click to read the complete questionnaire responses from Ned Lamont, Oz Griebel, and Bob Stefanowski. Lamont has also published an additional policy statement on Investing in Arts and Culture. Griebel has published a Policy Plan that includes statements on Arts, Culture and Tourism.

Candidates Agree that Arts Are a Solution for Education

Solution for EducationOver the past months, we’ve collected responses to six questions about arts and culture from each of the gubernatorial candidates. In the next weeks, we’re going to focus on the candidates’ responses to specific questions. The spotlight this week is on education.

Did you know:
  • Students with arts instruction are three times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, less likely to be absent, five times more likely to graduate, and 44% less likely to use drugs.
  • Schools and employers rank a degree in the arts among the most significant indicators of a candidate’s creativity and innovation skills—and creativity is cited by employers as one of the top three traits most important to career success.

The candidates have agreed that arts contribute to a well-rounded education.

CTV: Do you support arts education as a statewide priority? If so, how will you champion arts education for our youth?

LAMONT: In an environment that is very focused on STEM education I believe that it is important to remember the incredible impact that the arts can have on young students. When I was a volunteer teacher at Harding High School the principal told me that she supported the arts because she believed that students need to find something that they excel at, and something that inspires them to come to school every day. As a young man, the arts gave me the confidence boost that I needed and I believe that they will do that for others as well.

I will champion arts education by working with local leaders, the private sector and the legislature to ensure that more of our young people and communities have access to arts education. Through my own visits as governor and by speaking out in support of diverse programming, I will help people across Connecticut recognize that the arts are interconnected to economic development and the well-being of our residents, helping people realize their value beyond the aesthetic.

STEFANOWSKI: The expression of art, and our cultural stores are fundamental development tools for our children. I believe that it is imperative that school funding to our municipalities and schools remain intact so art and cultural programs may remain in place.

GRIEBEL: Arts education is a major contributor to the development of critical thinking skills in our K-12 students. The Griebel-Frank administration will certainly be a vocal champion of arts education, whether delivered by public or private schools or by independent arts organizations such as our museums, theaters, and universities. Given the projected fiscal challenges in the FY’20 and FY’21 budget, our Administration will have to work closely with arts and culture organizations and their funders to ensure that whatever State funds are available are leveraged to the maximum extent possible.


Create the Vote CT is a nonpartisan public education campaign to raise awareness and support for the arts among voters and candidates running for public office.

Click to read the complete responses from Ned Lamont, Oz Griebel, and Bob Stefanowski. Lamont has also published an additional policy statement on Investing in Arts and Culture. Griebel has published a Policy Plan that includes statements on Arts, Culture and Tourism.

Imperative for Continued Office of the Arts Leadership

There has been some confusion and misinformation this week about the recently announced job posting for an Arts and Culture Administrator at the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). The Connecticut Arts Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization led by artists, educators, and arts executives from all over our state, would like to clarify some details about this position and its importance to the creative sector in our state.

Up until a year ago, the person in this position had been appointed by the Governor, which has historically created inconsistencies with each selection or change of administration and politicization of the position. DECD corrected this problem last year by classifying (making permanent) the position with a clear job description and specific qualifications to oversee the Office of the Arts and State Historic Preservation Office. Kristina Newman-Scott, originally appointed by Governor Malloy in 2015 and often referred to as the Director of Culture, was hired for this permanent position.

DECD is simply rehiring for this job, which has been vacant since early summer when Newman-Scott left the position, as they would for any other vacancy in the department. This is not a political appointment and the job has specific criteria, which is why they are conducting a national search to secure the very best applicants to serve our state.

The Connecticut Arts Alliance has worked with many different leaders at DECD’s Office of the Arts over the last 15 years. During that time, the state arts agency has been periodically stalled from realizing its full potential for both the state and for the arts sector because of the frequent changes in leadership and inconsistent knowledge of and experience in the cultural sector. We need to maintain the status of this leadership position to ensure that our relationships with the federal government and many other state and local partners continue unimpeded, as well as to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency.

This position is dedicated to the long term, rather than the duration of a political appointment. At long last, Connecticut can have consistent cultural leadership with the required expertise to carry forward strategic initiatives and reinforce the agency’s very capable team. With this position in place, we now suffer fewer unnecessary delays in the progress and impact that the Office of the Arts could have for the state. Having this leadership position filled as a permanent, classified post will stop the practice of unintentional derailment of the agency by political appointees who do not have the experience or expertise or the commitment to the long-term.

For those who wonder—why does this position exist at all? If you are an artist, involved with an arts or cultural organization, or enjoy experiencing creative events in your community, then you know the importance of the Director of Culture to oversee our industry in state government and harness the power of the arts to educate the next generation, build vibrant communities, and attract and retain employers and residents.

If you are not a believer, then consider first that the nonprofits arts and cultural sector in Connecticut is an $800 million industry that supports over 23,000 jobs statewide. Next, this position for the Office of the Arts, together with those of Historic Preservation and the four museums, manages millions in federal and state funding and has critical oversight and responsibility for regulatory functions. This position leverages nearly $1 million in matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for statewide grantmaking and programs, which are guided by a formal strategic plan. Overall, strong leadership at the Office of the Arts helps to catalyze investment from the business and donor community, promote collaboration with other areas of government, particularly education and tourism, and ensure accountability and efficiency.

With the facts about and importance of this position now clear, the Connecticut Arts Alliance hopes that DECD will secure the best candidate possible as soon as possible for our next Director of Culture. It is important to maintain consistency in a sector that is one of Connecticut’s strengths and a solution to—not part of—Connecticut’s economic problems. Let’s not re-break what has already been fixed.