My favorite question in the arts world…“So, what’s new?”

Posted by Ms. Kate McOmber, Oct 01, 2015 0 comments

How often are you asked “So, what’s new at [insert your organization name here]?” For me, it’s a daily question from community members, colleagues from the Greater Hartford arts scene, friends, family and, basically, everyone I encounter. And, I LOVE this question, because there’s always something new happening in the arts!

These days, I’ve found myself answering that question by telling people about the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s newest grant program, the Arts + Wellness grants. Earlier this year we were asking ourselves what’s new in the region, what unmet needs are out there in our community and how can we help? We ask a lot of questions around here…but these were actually easy to answer. In recent years, we had seen an influx of grant applications through our existing grant programs from organizations who were utilizing the arts to address health issues and enrich lives. These were fascinating organizations and programs capitalizing on the power of the arts to impact our health. From art therapy for Alzheimer’s patients and Veterans, to dance classes that can help combat obesity, to inclusive theater programs for children of all abilities. So, we developed a grant program to specifically target and support these programs and help them continue to serve our community and last June, we announced our new Arts + Wellness Grant program.

While the overall program was designed to broadly serve arts and wellness programs, the idea is that each year the grants can be focused on a specific patient population or health concern to allow for targeted response to community needs. In 2016, for its pilot year, the Arts + Wellness grants will be given to organizations that are utilizing the arts to address the specific wellness needs of Veteran’s and their families.

Once we developed this grant, we then had to ask ourselves, who would be the right partner to help us kick-off this exciting new initiative? So, we started talking to corporate leaders in the region and soon developed a collaboration with UnitedHealthcare. As a company dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives and as a strong supporter of Veteran’s causes, UnitedHealthcare didn’t hesitate to support this initiative. It was a natural partnership.

One of the great things we discovered through this process was that when we’re asking ourselves how we can best support our community, corporate leaders are often asking the same questions and natural collaborations emerge when we’re all working to address community needs.

Now that the program is well underway, it’ll be exciting to see how the Arts + Wellness grants take shape. We’ll be announcing the 2016 grant recipients around Veteran’s Day, so be sure to connect with us on Facebook or Twitter for updates! And we’d love to know, what’s new with you?

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