Urban Artistsí Initiative (UAI): Urban Artistsí Initiative (formerly Inner City Cultural Development (ICCD) Project)
The Urban Artists Initiative (UAI) provided culturally and ethnically diverse artists and organizations in Connecticut with the tools to thrive and enrich the cultural health of their communities. The program offered participants training, grants, mentors, technical assistance, and staff support aimed at addressing the unique needs of emerging artists and organizations that produce art or present cultural events. UAI was implemented in ten cities around the state, including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, Bristol, New Britain, Norwalk, Stamford, New London, and Norwich. In each site, six community-based organizations and 15 individual artists were selected from a pool of applicants who reside in the city and surrounding towns. The program targeted artists and organizations that often do not have access to traditional arts-related resources. The program placed strong emphasis on networking participants with other artists and arts organizations within their communities and across sites through meetings, conferences, and other activities. An important goal of the program was to embed the work of artists within the communities in which they reside and to enhance the cultural vitality of life in Connecticut. To this end, program staff worked with community-based organizations, schools, and other institutions to provide residencies for artists to share their talent and skills with other community members. Participating artists represent the wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds of Connecticut’s cities, including Haitian, Tibetan, Greek, Indian, African-American, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Ecuadorian, Brazilian, Cambodian, Colombian, and many other ethnic communities.
Ethnic, immigrant, and occupational communities in Connecticut have an extraordinary commitment to maintaining their cultural heritage and identity while experiencing and adapting to new social and cultural environments. The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CHAP) encourages and promotes traditional artists and their communities through an active process of documentation, technical assistance, and public presentation to bring their work and the history of their communities to new audiences. The fieldwork-based program is unique in Connecticut, with goals and methods consistent with ICR’s mission emphasizing the use of original research to strengthen community-based resources. CHAP documents tradition bearers across the state whose work would otherwise remain unknown or under-represented, collecting this material into a valuable archive of Connecticut traditions that is open to researchers and the public by appointment.CHAP helps to express and enhance community cultural vitality through transforming research material (observations, recorded interviews, collection of artistic histories and music) into activities of interest to audiences. Commitment to authenticity of cultural representation and inclusion of members of the communities in research and program development are fundamental characteristics of CHAPís projects. A central program objective is to bring the excellence of traditional arts, which speak volumes about a community’s history and values, to greater public attention.CHAP began in 1991, when the Institute for Community Research established the state folk arts program with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Our funding partners have included NEA, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Connecticut Humanities Council, the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Community Folklife Program, the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, the Ensworth Charitable Fund, the Knox Foundation, the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls, and several other foundations and donors.
Fieldwork – We partner with local cultural groups to locate and interview artists from their communities, photograph or record their work, and learn from them about their art forms.Documentation – Information, images, and recordings from 23 years of fieldwork are organized and stored in CHAPís unique archive, which is accessible for public use.Technical Assistance – CHAP mentors artists, connects them with appropriate resources for their work, and advises them on topics such as presentation methods and curriculum development.Information Services – CHAP shares information about traditional artists, art forms, and Connecticutís diverse communities with individuals, arts presenters, educational organizations, and community groups interested in addressing issues of cultural diversity.Education Ė CHAP offers workshops, panel discussions, and training sessions with and for folk artists and educators. We coordinate the Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (link to page), now its 17th year.Projects – CHAP produces exhibits, performances, demonstrations, radio broadcasts, compact discs, and catalogues featuring the art work of Connecticutís finest traditional artists. Our events provide opportunities for audiences to learn about and meet communities and their artists.
- Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program
- Sewing Circle Project
- Mas: Costumes from Hartfordís Caribbean Community
- New Lives/New England
- Jampa Tsondue and Tibetans
- Daniel Boucher
- Trudie Lamb Richmond
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