Episode Information

WWL@RAW: Locating Creativity
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Share this Content

In this episode:

Locating Creativity: Can Art and Innovation Revitalize Hartford?


Episode Audio

74:21 minutes (35.69 MB)
Download this Episode

In October, Where We Live and Real Art Ways asked for your thoughts, 

ideas, questions, and stories about Hartford’s past, present, and future. We heard what you had to say – and now we’re continuing that conversation with a series of interactive live recordings.

Locating Creativity: Can Art and Innovation Revitalize Hartford?

It’s not just musicians and artists. Its scientists and business people too. It's potentially YOU.

Can Hartford, the former insurance capital of the world, support a creative class? What (and who) is already here – and how can we connect them? How does the greater Hartford region contribute to Hartford’s creative landscape? What are the elements of a dynamic city – and where should Hartford focus its energy? What are the city’s barriers to a bustling creative economy?

We need you to help us shape this conversation! Send us your thoughts. Tell us about yourself. Put us in touch with your neighbor.  Send us a link. The creative economy - a critical mass of thinkers and doers - has revitalized cities around the country. How can we bring that here? Can we afford not to?  Leave comments on our blog below. 

Listen below for an interview with Charles Landry, author of "The Art of Citymaking" - portions of the interview will be played during the live Real Art Ways taping. 

All photos by Chion Wolf:


Charles Landry on "The Creative City"

25:46 minutes (12.37 MB)
Download this Audio Resource

Related Content:

The Creative Class is Everyone


I'm a little disappointed by the exclusionary tone of both this show and the subsequent comments.


To be effective, a ‘creative class’ has to include everyone – not just those who work in the traditional arts professions.  This includes:

> Entrepreneurs whose creativity creates new jobs and products for all of us.

> Employees of large companies whose creativity enables their companies to be successful and to bring more wealth and opportunity to the region (did you know that last year one large insurer in the area filed six patent applications?)

> Government employees whose creativity could help bring honest, efficient government to the Hartford area – clearly required for a thriving region. 


The success of Hartford and surrounding towns will depend on creating a social, political and economic infrastructure that enables us all to grow and thrive.  


The insurance companies...in Hartford

The insurance companies could do a world of good in Hartford.

1. Insurance companies can insure at a very reduced rate the families whose "Culture" they appreciate--this could be done by insuring small businesses and the families who own them, and for other families who live and work in Hartford.

2. The insurance companies could rehab one of the many empty buildings to be used for events, art studios, recording studios, dancing, culinary arts...

3. The health insurance companies could set up Health Clubs for the Hartford people they cover-- imagine a big old historic Hartford building turned into Health Spa: on staff nurse, clinic, exercise classes, exercise machinery, pool, reiki/yoga/tai chi....with a healthy community agenda.

4.The insurance companies could focus on the care of children 0-3. They could make health care benefits to all pregnant women and all who are employed on the 0-3 system. This could take a lot of stress out of an over-stressed system.

5. Speaking of over-stressed systems, maybe the insurance companies could fund an expansion of the Department of Children and Families. Again, house it in a big beautiful old building, make it family friendly, give it enough staff to actually do everything they are supposed to do. When caseworkers have 30 or more caseloads, and children end up sleeping in hospital emergency rooms because there is nowhere else to put them...there simply are not enough resources.

6. As the above commenter wrote, the insurance companies employ many highly creative people. Perhaps they could brainstorm ways to best serve Hartford. Maybe the insurance companies can figure out how to best ask the people who live in Hartford and find out what is needed. Document the process so it does not fall apart. Surely the insurance companies could use some good pr. Hartford's role in American history is indispensable. Hartford claims a few geniuses including Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Wallace Steven. Hartford is ideally situated between New York and Boston.

It is not a new thing that poverty creates the kind of situation we now have in Hartford. (CT Voices for Children has conducted many studies on the effects of poverty on families, communities, and cities.) History is full of examples, in which wealth is disproportionate to population-- this is not the first time there is a city flinching in pain from poverty, with broken families, abuse, starvation, illness, homelessness... I say put those clever folks at the insurance companies on the task of figuring out how to give back to Hartford, the people of Hartford, the ones who keep it alive.

Art in the city or lack thereof

As a veteran art teacher in the city of Hartford, I am perplexed by the city's latest initiative to spend a good amount of money to encourage art in the city at large, and to draw on it to (hopefully) bring it into the schools.

For the past two years I have recieved NO money in the form of a budget to pay for art supplies in my school.  I serve more than 700 students a week. Contrast this with the 9K budget I had in a small suburban middle school.

I am not alone, an informal survey of my Hartford peers finds a similar state of affairs.  Other Hartford art teachers---probably 95%--are not recieving money either.  How can we teach art to very deserving youngsters without pencils, markers, crayons, or white paper? How can the district purport to support the arts when this is going on? 

Ct Opera closed down and donated a few reams of paper.  that is gone.  I had a donation of  used Friendly's crayons.  Only four colors.

How can 13 or 14 year old boys use tiny toddler scissors? I have one ream of orange, red and black paper.We used to have about $1,000 budget per year when we had a Unified Arts Director, but she is gone, and there is no one to advocate or budget for us.  Now our money is school based.  I did not even get the class room teacher's annual amount of 150.00 last year.


We had a donation of little violins last year--probably 25, and then the less than half time teacher was canned.  We have no string or band program.  OUr children need music and art.


There is no respect or support in our schools for the arts.I am not exaggerating or being overly emotional.  Just the facts, ma'am.

I am passionate yet demoralized.  I probably spend at least $500.00 of my own money on sharpies, yarn felt, crayons, plastic needles, tissue paper, erasers, Mod Podge, etc.,This is just not right.  For this and last year I could hold up the program with MINIMAL supplies.  I will be unable to do this next year, since all the 'surplus' that I have worked so hard to put away for a rainy day is gone.

there is also a 'saying' among the staff in the unlucky non magnet schools.  We say we are separate and unequal.  No computer in my room, and no ne to support computers either.  We have to rely on donations to have enough paperbook novels for an entire class.And this rarely happens. Parents lamented the possibility of loosing bussing this past week.  I lament the lack of basic supplies.

How can this star rise?

I do not know where this is going.  It is very painful.

Arts Education

Attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts open house last night. What a wonderful program! I would be thrilled to send my daughter there - would even pay tuition. Unfortunately, they typically have 500+ applications for 100 freshman seats (assigned by lottery). Of those 100 seats, 40% are for Hartford students and 60% are available to students from 55 surrounding communities. Looked to see what other opportunities are available in CT for an arts-centric high school education and wasn't able to find anything - particularly for visual arts - other than a magnet school in New Haven with even fewer seats. Too bad the GHAA program isn't larger, since there is clearly demand. Perhaps the "brain drain" starts even younger  - with students who must go far from the Hartford area for the opportunity for a high school arts education - and don't return for college and career.

Harford Issues

Hartford has a lot of issues that need to be addressed and if the city feels that art is one way of doing that it will need to provide space for artists to work, explore and live - for very little money.  Someone on todays program mentioned that there are buildings that vacant that cannot be used or are not being used because of the cost to rehab the buildings.  Hartford should consider contacting the  owners of those buildings and offer tax offsets if the buildings are rehabbed and then are set for artists to use.  Also, someone on the program mentioned or posed the question as to how "creative or artistic" the insurance industry is - well let me assure you that the insurance industry as a whole are some of most creative thieves in our century and are so good at what they do that they have managed to fool us all into thinking that what they do and their stealing is OK.