Will K. Wilkins is Executive Director of Real Art Ways, one of the United States’ leading contemporary multi-disciplinary organizations, in Hartford, Connecticut. Real Art Ways supports artistic innovation, and connects artists and community. Programs include visual arts, theater, music, spoken word, and film and video.
Mr. Wilkins has overseen the $1.8 million development of the Real Art Ways Arts Center, a place for art, ideas and social interaction, which includes a comfortable cinema (35mm, 16mm and video; also used for live arts), three beautifully renovated gallery spaces, a video room, the Loading Dock Lounge, and the Real Room.
Among the highlights of Mr. Wilkins’ tenure has been a series of commissioned artist’s projects, many in public settings and involving community participation, including projects by Mel Chin, Mark Dion, Lillian Hsu-Flanders, Ellen Driscoll, Pepón Osorio, Karin Giusti, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Carl Pope, Jr., Rachel Berwick, James Luna, Josely Carvalho, Liz Miller, Nikki S. Lee, Verandah Porche, and Group Material.
Mr. Wilkins is an innovator at linking contemporary art and ideas with community. In recent years, Real Art Ways has sponsored a design competition, with neighborhood residents as jurors, for neighborhood gateways; has commissioned three major artist’s residencies with the neighborhood senior center; and has been a key participant in an inclusive neighborhood planning process, resulting in a redesign of the central commercial district.
During Mr. Wilkins tenure, Real Art Ways has been a strong supporter of artists’ rights and freedom of expression, and has received support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Ford Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mr. Wilkins has served on grant review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts International, the Wallace Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Ct. Commission on the Arts, and the McKnight Foundation. Prior to joining Real Art Ways in 1990, Mr. Wilkins worked at Central Park Summerstage and WBAI in New York.