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.

To read our most recent Member Newsletters, please click below.

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.

COVID-19 Reactions and Resources

Given the timeliness and importance of the information it contains, our Spring newsletter for members is being shared publicly.


From the President

Recognizing the huge implications world-wide that are evolving currently, I challenge you to keep in mind – and help our government and community leaders understand – that the creative sector is and will always offer avenues for creatively addressing challenges, healing, understanding, and joy.

We all know the statistics that show the economic impact of the arts, but there are highly valued – and often understated – effects that are powerfully life-changing and community-shaping. Recently, thanks to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, a fresh and inspiring podcast – Divested, Episode 6: Arts and Culture – gave me a much needed shot in the arm in this regard. The podcast shares stories that will reinforce so many reasons why the arts are so important for all our communities – especially now.

Here’s the link to the podcast, and a link the transcript.

Remember that the Arts Matter in more ways than economically, and tell your stories. Especially as we deal with the crisis of the Coronavirus, let’s remember and remind others that the arts should play an important part of coping during the crisis and dealing with the aftermath.

Sincerely,

Amy Wynn
President, Connecticut Arts Alliance and
Executive Director, American Mural Project

P.S. Our thanks to Jonathan Winn of Thrown Stone Theatre Company in Ridgefield for creating the Arts Matter logo.


Help to Gather Data

For our arts and culture community to qualify for all the resources available to us, it is important to gather data about the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are national, state, and, in some cases, regional surveys to complete, and although some questions are repetitive, we do ask that you take the time to complete each one as applicable.

National Survey

The Americans for the Arts’ (AFTA) survey is “designed to collect information about the financial and human impacts that the spread of the coronavirus have had on arts and cultural organizations.” There are over 10,000 arts-related businesses in our state, and we’d like to see a strong showing of responses from Connecticut!

The survey should take only 5 minutes. Be sure to complete only one survey for your organization.


State Survey

In Connecticut, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD), which the Office of the Arts is a part of, is collecting information from businesses (including nonprofits) to help direct the work of the Governor and the Department. This survey should also take no more than 5 minutes to complete.


Regional Surveys

Finally, the Connecticut Office of the Arts has nine Designated Regional Service Organizations (DRSO) that serve as local field offices. Four of these organizations have developed on-line surveys to gather information on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in their region. If you’re uncertain which region your town is in, please check the listings on the DRSO link in this paragraph.

  • If you are an individual artist, please complete the survey for the city or town in which you reside.
  • If you represent a nonprofit arts organizations or for-profit creative businesses, please complete the survey based on your business location. Again, please complete only one survey for each organization or business.
  • Please note that the regional service organizations for several towns and cities do not have a survey available at this time.

Arts Council of Greater New Haven / TAKE SURVEY

Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County / TAKE SURVEY

Northwest Connecticut Arts Council / TAKE SURVEY (This is a survey for individual artists, musicians, and creative service employees only)

Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition / TAKE SURVEY


Resources and Links

Data and resources available are changing rapidly during this time of crisis, so we’re providing links to governmental and organizational websites that are collecting information of interest to the cultural community.

The State of Connecticut has complied a website of information on COVID-19 and has published a document of Frequently Asked Questions on the State’s Actions Related to COVID-19 . Of particular interest to artists and art organizations may be sections on unemployment (including the Shared Work Program which supplements employees’ pay when their hours are reduced ) and assistance for small businesses and nonprofits. Note that nonprofits are eligible for low-interest Small Business Association loans.

The Alliance, a membership organization for Connecticut nonprofits, has published a COVID-19 Response Resource Center collecting links to Federal and State agency resources.

The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy has also collected Coronavirus Resources for Funders and Nonprofits.

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) has a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource and Response Center. AFTA provides one of the best sites for national information for our creative sector, including up-to-date news and links.

The New England Foundation for the Arts has also compiled a webpage of resources and links for artists and cultural organizations.

Finally, COVID-19 & Freelance Artists is one of the most comprehensive websites of resources we’ve found for individual and freelance artists.
If you’ve found other resources you’d like to share, please email links to info@ctartsalliance.org.

We may be socially distant, but we’re culturally connected, and sustaining each other and our arts and culture community is our top priority now.

Meet Our Members: Sally Rogers

Connecticut Arts Alliance continues a series of posts spotlighting its CAA members. The Membership Program, begun in 2019, joins together arts organizations, artists, and arts patrons throughout Connecticut to collectively raise our voice and increase recognition of the important role the arts play in building and inspiring an equitable, vibrant, and connected Connecticut.


Sally Rogers began her career as a full-time touring musician in 1979, after encouragement from Stan Rogers, the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter.  That was followed by an invitation from Garrison Keillor to appear on A Prairie Home Companion.  She appeared more than a dozen times on that show, which launched her performing career.  Her travels have since taken her to Europe, China, Hungary and Poland, England and Scotland, and across the United States.

Sally has released thirteen albums, not including several collaborative projects with other artists. Her first album, The Unclaimed Pint, has stood the test of time and continues to be a big seller. Her songs are included in the Unitarian Hymnal, the Quaker songbook, Rise Up Singing, Rise Again and both national music textbook series. Several of her songs are considered to be folk music classics.

Although much of Rogers’ time is spent teaching music in the public schools and being an artist-in-residence these days, she continues to perform in concerts as opportunities arise.  Her gorgeous singing voice, boundless energy and good humor are welcomed from coast to coast.

PHOTO: (l-r) Sally Rogers with her dulcimer, and with husband and musical partner, Howie Bursen.


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 Member today!

Meet Our Members: La Grua Center

Connecticut Arts Alliance continues a series of posts spotlighting its CAA members. The Membership Program, begun in 2019, joins together arts organizations, artists, and arts patrons throughout Connecticut to collectively raise our voice and increase recognition of the important role the arts play in building and inspiring an equitable, vibrant, and connected Connecticut.


La Grua Center is a small nonprofit cultural center—open to all—offering a wide variety of concerts, talks, and art exhibitions in a welcoming space with distinctive acoustics located in Stonington Borough. It is also a beautiful rental venue for classes, meetings, celebrations, and other community gatherings.

Their signature monthly series of Saturday afternoon concerts of classical and early music, and world-ethnic-folk music is called Music Matters. These curated concerts allow people in our community to experience live acoustic music in an intimate setting, in an ambience that invites musicians to communicate with immediacy and warmth. 

On Our Minds and The World Comes to La Grua talk series present speakers who share their expertise in current events, world affairs, journalism, the economy, environment, health, and more. The abundance of cultural resources in our region allows us to enjoy conversations with artists, authors, producers, and historians in our Behind the Curtain, Local Treasures, and Good Stories Well Told series.


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 Member today!

Preparing for the Potential Impact of a Pandemic

The following article is shared with permission from ArtsReady, a national initiative of South Arts in Atlanta, Georgia. ArtsReady provides an online emergency preparedness service by and for arts and cultural nonprofits, and it provides arts organizations with customized business continuity plans for post-crisis sustainability.

While the Coronavirus is not widespread in North America, we at CAA do encourage preparedness for epidemics and other emergencies and crises. This is an excellent time to take stock of your own organizational policies and procedures. Please review the following information and suggestions, and adjust them as necessary to the scale and operations of your own organization.

Visit ArtsReady.org for the latest information and to sign up as a Free Member to receive future updates.


Are you ready for a temporary closure? 

In Asia and Europe, public gatherings including performances, museums and festivals have been cancelled and shuttered to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Coronavirus Outbreak Shutters Italian Museums; Event Cancellations Continue in China and South Korea.

While the spread and impact of the virus here in the United States is not yet known, arts organizations should have a plan in the event that, in the interest of public health, your organization needs to delay or cancel events or temporarily close.

Preparing Your Facility Now 

Put hand-sanitizing stations (or additional stations) in lobbies, theater spaces and bathrooms, and make wipes available for people to use on armrests if the surface is wood or metal. 

If you do need to temporarily close, refer to What to Take When you Evacuate. This checklist suggests what your staff should plan to take with them if you must leave your facility on short notice, to be able to continue to work and communicate. 

Ensure you have an up-to-date facility shut-down protocol. Individuals should be aware of their specific responsibilities and processes, including data backup, safe shutdown of IT and other equipment; securing/protecting any assets that require regular attention or are of value (including cash, blank checks, and sensitive artwork); and have a clear protocol to sweep the facility and ensure everyone is out before locking it down.  

Supporting Your Staff and Volunteers 

Inform all staff and volunteers to limit contact with audience members. Look at the tickets rather than taking them and handing them back. Review cancellation and work stoppage policies with staff during a special meeting.

Stay updated on the status in your local area. Identify your local and regional health department personnel and websites to make sure you have the most up-to-date knowledge of the spread of the disease locally. From Heather Noonan at the League of American Orchestras: 

Communicating with Audiences and Stakeholders

Make sure you have a current and clear event cancellation policy.

  • Will you refund tickets, reschedule, or not? Does everyone on staff know your policy? How will you be in touch with your audience? Here’s advice from NCAPER’s Executive Director Jan Newcomb: “Review your ticket refund policy and resend it to all your patrons – you may decide to give credit to people who cancel up to 2 days before their ticketed performance.  You may want to extend that policy to include all other performances during a limited time frame so that sick people stay home.  You should prepare a financial impact statement before you do so, so you know your liability.” 
  • Review all performance contracts to understand your financial liability if you decide to cancel performances. Prepare a financial liability statement for the board. 

Meet Our Members: Out Film CT

Connecticut Arts Alliance continues a series of posts spotlighting its CAA members. The Membership Program, begun in 2019, joins together arts organizations, artists, and arts patrons throughout Connecticut to collectively raise our voice and increase recognition of the important role the arts play in building and inspiring an equitable, vibrant, and connected Connecticut.


Since 1987 (originally as AlteRnaTiveS) Out Film CT has entertained, educated, and promoted community through the exhibition of LGBTQ film. A volunteer, nonprofit cultural organization, Out Film CT is dedicated to presenting outstanding LGBTQ cinema and other theatrical events throughout the year, culminating in the nine-day Connecticut LGBTQ Film Festival. The event this year will be held on May 29 through June 6.

Connecticut’s longest-running film festival, now celebrating its 33rd season, holds a special place in our state’s cultural landscape, bringing the community together to introduce, celebrate, and rediscover the ideas and values that make the LGBTQ community unique.

Out Film CT also presents the monthly Queer Thursdays (usually shown on the second Thursday of each month) film series in partnership with Cinestudio, located on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford.

To learn more, visit OutFilmCT.org.

PHOTO CREDITS: Cinestudio doorway: Helder Mira, The Trinity Reporter. Cinestudio seats: Shane Engstrom, Out Film CT Festival Director/President.


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 Member today!

Meet Our Members: The Amistad Center for Arts & Culture

Connecticut Arts Alliance continues a series of posts spotlighting its CAA members. The Membership Program, begun in 2019, joins together arts organizations, artists, and arts patrons throughout Connecticut to collectively raise our voice and increase recognition of the important role the arts play in building and inspiring an equitable, vibrant, and connected Connecticut.


The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, an independently incorporated and managed not-for-profit organization located in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, owns and exhibits a vital collection of nearly 7,000 works of art, artifacts, and popular culture objects that document the experience, expressions, and history of people of African descent in America.

Its latest exhibit, Freedom & Fragility, by guest curator Amy Sailor, is now on view through June 21.

Freedom, 1863-2020….Are we there yet?

The promise of “Freedom” for all, though a cornerstone of American values, remains largely fraught to this day. While the Union’s victory over the Confederacy would secure the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States, African Americans continued to face recurring challenges aimed at preserving the former racial hierarchy.

Resiliency would characterize the struggle of the African diaspora who survived the middle passage and earned their freedom in the United States of America. In the works of artists Hale Woodruff, Jacob Lawrence, and Sheila Pree Bright is an enduring spirit that portrays the challenges and risks African Americans face in exercising their rights. Despite new liberties given to the formerly enslaved and their descendants, the notion of freedom in America is fragile, as continued struggles towards equity define the Black experience.

See the exhibition, join the conversations! Learn more at www.amistadcenter.org.

PHOTO: Eartha Kitt by Philipe Halsman – 1954 – Gelatin Silver Print


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 Member today!

A Year of Accomplishments with CAA

Connecticut began 2019 with the inauguration of Governor Ned Lamont following an election in which CAA’s Create the Vote CT campaign encouraged candidates and voters to consider the impact of arts and culture on our towns and cities, schools, and economy. As a result of CAA’s efforts, the new Governor formed an Arts, Culture and Tourism Transition Policy Committee to present recommendations to his incoming administration.

Also this year, CAA kicked off its first membership campaign to support the organization and the arts and culture community throughout our state. By the end of the year, 60 Charter Members had joined CAA. The membership represents 25 towns and cities throughout Connecticut, all eight counties, and the artistic disciplines of dance, music, theater, visual arts, and arts education.

In March, CAA led a delegation of Connecticut artists, arts administrators, and advocates to Washington, D.C. for the Arts Action Summit and Arts Advocacy Day, hosted by Americans for the Arts. Our group visited the offices of both Senators and all five Representatives to advocate for increased funding for the NEA and arts-related legislation.

Connecticut’s own Arts, Culture and Tourism Advocacy Day was held in April, and over two hundred arts and tourism advocates attended. Among the accomplishments of the day, a unanimous vote to change the name of the legislative Tourism Caucus to the Arts, Culture and Tourism Caucus was a significant achievement for our industry.

In May, CAA hosted a reception for members and guests following Connecticut Arts Day , which was organized and operated by the Connecticut Office of the Arts, in New Haven. The day included special performances, panel discussions, presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities.

As Connecticut’s legislative session ended in June, CAA updated its members on General Assembly accomplishments . Calls to action and Federal legislative updates continued through the summer, and CAA published out-of-session advocacy tips in the fall.

Throughout the year, a significant project for CAA has been the development of a Strategic Plan. The plan’s actions—which include increasing fundraising, hiring a full-time executive director, changing the make-up of the board of directors, upgrading databases, developing state-wide educational campaigns, and establishing a sustainable business model—are aimed at positioning Connecticut Arts Alliance to ensure that the arts are valued as fundamental components of a vibrant, healthy, connected, and equitable Connecticut!

Thank Your Legislators and Arts Office

Earlier this month, the Department of Economic and Community Development announced state Office of the Arts grants in four categories for fiscal year 2020. The interactive map below shows grant awards and the location of recipients. (Click here if the map doesn’t load.)


If your organization received a grant, we encourage you to thank your legislators. Whether or not they supported the budget that made these grants possible, legislators should hear about the positive impact that state money dedicated to the arts is having on our organizations and those they serve (who are also our legislators’ constituents and voters). In addition to thanking legislators, invite them for a photo opportunity when grant checks are presented; and then promote the photo and award. To find your current representatives and senators, click here.

Please also thank the Office of the Arts itself! Elizabeth Shapiro, the new Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums, and the entire COA staff work hard with limited resources to administer grant programs and other services for our community and state. Contact information for the COA staff is online here.

Out-of-Session Advocacy

In Connecticut, our General Assembly—composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives—convene for regular sessions in the winter and spring. In even-numbered years (like 2020), the General Assembly is in session from February to May. In odd-numbered years (like 2019), when the state budget must be drafted and approved, the regular session runs from January through June.

During the months when the General Assembly is “in session,” CAA has sometimes called our members to action to support (or sometimes oppose) a proposed bill. In April 2019, we held an Advocacy Day with the Tourism Coalition in the State Legislative Office Building, and we invited CAA members to participate.

During the in session period (in odd-numbered years), much focus lies on debating the state budget. In addition, bills that affect the arts and arts education may be proposed, referred to committee, debated, “die” in committee from inaction, or move through the legislative process to become law.

But what about the “out-of-session” months? Between June and January, much can be done to advocate for the arts, arts education, and each of our organizations individually. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add your legislators to your mailing list. To find your current representatives and senators, click here. State legislators in office now are not up for re-election until 2020. (All State Senators and Representatives in Connecticut have two-year terms with no term limits.)
  • Invite your legislators to performances, special events, and openings. Introduce them and, when appropriate and if time allows, invite them to speak briefly if they’d like.
  • Invite your legislators for a tour or meeting outside of your normal performance or event schedule. This allows for more in-depth conversation about your organization, their work in the General Assembly, and issues that are important to you.

For tips on how to contact your legislators, click here . All of these advocacy actions will help you to get to know your legislator now so that you’ll have an established relationship during the in-session months when we may call on them to support us and the arts industry. That established relationship may be key to getting a quick response, an open ear, or even their vote.

Federal Legislation Update

Several pieces of Federal legislation are pending which will affect the creative sector. Our thanks to Americans for the Arts for providing these updates through our State Advocacy Captain, CAA Administrator Darren Farrington.

NEA Appropriations

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed ten appropriations bills, including an Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Bill which increases National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funding each by $12.5 million to a total of $167.5 million each.  The U.S. Senate may now begin to consider Appropriations bills. The proposed White House budget had eliminated funding for the NEA and NEH for the third consecutive year.

On August 1, Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2) and Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition will host an Arts, Culture and Humanities Federal Grants Forum. Representatives from the NEA, NEH, and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will present information about current grant programs and processes and criteria for applying. All Connecticut arts organizations are welcome, but space is limited, and registration is required. To register, visit www.culturesect.org.

CREATE Act

This spring, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) reintroduced the Comprehensive Resources for Entrepreneurs in the Arts to Transform the Economy (CREATE) Act  in both the U.S. Senate and House. Among the goals of the CREATE Act are “to assist entrepreneurs, support development of the creative economy, and encourage international cultural exchange.” As described by Americans for the Arts, “the CREATE Act aims to more thoroughly serve the people, places, and programs that make our nation’s creative economy prosper in all its cultural, social, and commercial forms.”

To date, no Connecticut Senators or Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the CREATE Act. Read here how to contact them and ask.

STAR Act

In June, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced the Saving Transit Art Resources (STAR) Act. In 2015, Congress prohibited the use of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds for including art in transit projects. Further, by accepting FTA funds, local government funding is restricted as well. The STAR Act would “allow certain funds to be used for incremental costs of incorporating art into facilities, and for other purposes,” thereby giving local communities the option of including the arts in federally funded transit projects.

No Connecticut Senators or Representatives have yet signed on as co-sponsors of the STAR Act. Click here to contact them.

RISE from Trauma Act

Also in June, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the bi-partisan RISE from Trauma Act “to improve the identification and support of children and families who experience trauma.” Americans Arts worked with Sen. Durbin’s staff to draft arts-focused language into the bill which would include state and local arts agencies among those eligible for support and which would add a new grant-making category to the NEA’s authorizing language for “projects, programs, and workshops that provide therapy and creative expression opportunities through the arts for children, and their families as appropriate, who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing trauma.”

CAA will continue to provide updates on these and other Federal bills affecting the creative sector.