One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Artists Collective, Inc., Hartford, CT
Contact(s): Dollie McLean, Executive Director: (860) 527-3205
Purpose: To preserve and perpetuate African/West Indian/Latin American cultural traditions and raise public consciousness about the value of this artistic and cultural experience

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Artists Collective was founded in 1970 by internationally acclaimed saxophonist, composer and educator Jackie McLean, along with his wife, Dollie, an actress, dancer and administrator. The collective is an interdisciplinary cultural institution serving the greater Hartford region by providing year-round professional training classes in dance, theater, music and visual arts for students who are at least two years old. These classes broaden the understanding and appreciation of the culture, heritage and arts of the African Diaspora. The collective also sponsors educational forums and special events that demonstrate the breadth and vitality of this culture's traditions, aid in the development of professional artists and foster positive feelings of self-identity.

Program Operations

The main focus of the Artists Collective is its training programs, which teach dance, music, drama and the visual arts to both children and adults. These programs, which run from September through June, culminate in a performance by the students at either the collective or the Horace Bushnell Theater in Hartford. In addition to regular training workshops, the collective offers several other programs, including: a summer youth employment training program for low-income youth ages 14-21; a Rite of Passage-Yaboo Ceremony, held in conjunction with local junior high and high schools, which focuses on traditional African-American family values that initiate adolescents into adulthood, utilizing performing arts and "skills-for-living" curriculum; a youth jazz orchestra comprised of outstanding young musicians ages 13-21 from the city of Hartford as well as the predominately white suburbs; dance ensembles; and dance and music residencies and master workshops, where professionals are brought in to serve as mentors to the students.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Between 600 and 800 students participate in the collective's training programs each year. The collective is a partner in the Bushnell Arts Partners Program, which brings arts programs to underfunded schools throughout Hartford. Through the Bushnell program, the collective writes the curriculum on African American music and provides training through the collective staff. The program is provided to 34 urban and suburban schools in the region. The Artists Collective has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greater Hartford Arts Commission and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

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