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  • The Artists CollectiveThe Artists Collective Hartford, Connecticut
    The Artists Collective, Inc. was started by NEA Jazz Master Awardee Jackie McLean, the world renown alto saxophonist, educator and composer, and his wife Dollie McLean in Hartford, Connecticut in 1970. And in 1975, they began holding its first classes in borrowed space around the city. Later that same year, the city would donate a marvelous three story building that was constructed in the 1920s and a wonderful venue to house the new genre. They still had to have special events, theatrical and dance productions, major jazz and gospel concerts and visual arts exhibits at different rented places throughout the city. The center is an interdisciplinary arts and cultural institution that serves the greater Hartford area and is the only multi-arts and cultural organization of its kind in the state, emphasizing the cultural and artistic contributions of the African Diaspora. It exposes the community and students to many times over looked artists of the past and present, striving to offer the best quality training in the performing arts; visual arts, dance, music and theater. There are numerous workshops like the "Skills for Living" and other exciting programs that have become an integral part of the After School Program, that entwines the Rite of Passage-Yaboo Ceremony, Summer Youth Employment Training Program and a spectacular program that helps children with sickle cell anemia. Since beginning, the collective has trained thousands of students and adults in the arts disciplines, always striving to touch their lives and their families. With its continued efforts to showcase artists of the African Diaspora, the center has provided positive adult role models for the newest generation of artists. New emerging musicians, nationally known dance and theater companies, gospel artists, jazz greats and visual arts exhibits and lectures by well known historians make up the remainder of the collective's special events programs. The collective has received many awards and accolades, continually being recognized by the community and the nation for its many wonderful contributions to the children and the community at large. It seem like they have gotten some kind of award for almost every year they have been opened.  The collective was started in 1970 by Jackie and his wife, Dollie, McLean, with artists Ionis Martin, Paul Brown and Cheryl Smith. Their fantastic vision was to create a safe haven for at-risk children by offering alternatives to the street violence, gangs, drugs, teen pregnancy and alcohol abuse. The center serves mostly low income black, Latino and Caribbean people of all ages, and for most of them, it is the only opportunity for them to be exposed to the arts. It is unique in that their programs represent a non-traditional way to teach arts since they include school success, social skills training and community responsibility by having individual and group workshops that continually expose the children to positive role models, develop self-esteem, pride in one's cultural identity, self-awareness and stimulation to think critically. The collective serves more than 1200 students each year and continues to expand both its programs and abilities to reach more people, young and old alike. 

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  • Connecticut Historical Society Museum and LibraryConnecticut Historical Society Museum and Library Hartford, Connecticut
    The Connecticut Historical Society began in 1825, and is one of the oldest historical societies in the country and contains one of the most prominent collections in New England. The society is a non-profit library, education center and museum with a lifelong commitment to inspiring an interest in history by displays, programs and state related collections that look at and try to understand, as well as help the visitor understand the past, present and future with the hope of connecting all three ages together. Their research center is your entry point giving you access to millions of photographs, maps, books, manuscripts and historical documents in their collections. The society's collection contains over 265,000 relics and images, more than 125,000 books and pamphlets that are dated from the 1600s to the present, and more than 3.5 million manuscripts. Many of the items included in the collections tell a wondrous and thoroughly interesting story, like the Phineas Meigs hat that was from around the year 1760, and a wonderful example of the types of hat worn by baseball players, farmers, tradesmen and militiamen; and though they were very popular at the time, you couldn't find too many of them today. Well, on with the tale; in 1782, an older veteran of the French and Indian War and local militiaman, was called to an armed British incursion by the shores near his house in what is today, Madison. The skirmish that occurred took the lives of a British soldier and Meigs, who was shot fatally through the head, while wearing his hat. It seemed like such a shame, since the war was about over, and Meigs, who was old enough and had given enough of his life to have someone else go, went as he saw it his duty, and became the last battlefield casualty of the revolution from Connecticut. His hat, with its holes, is a reminder of that revolution that gave all Americans the freedom and liberties, the pursuit of happiness, the right of free speech, and all the other unalienable rights that have brought millions of people from all over the world to this fantastic country.

January 11, 2011