Urban Artists’ Initiative (UAI): Urban Artists’ 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.