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Arts in New Britain: a Coming of Age Story

It’s an exciting time for artists and art-lovers in the city of New Britain, according to Stephen Hard, Chair of the Commission on the Arts and Executive Director of the Greater New Britain Arts Alliance. With an increase in programming including new locations, the arts community is growing to the point that New Britain may soon be known as a true “destination” for the arts.

“Stockman Gallery is officially open to the public,” says Hard. The gallery is a joint venture between the Arts Alliance and Trinity on Main, with the former taking care of management responsibilities and the latter providing space. Renovations were paid for by an anonymous donor, and funds for the canopy over the new entrance were acquired as a grant from the New Britain Downtown District.

The gallery was previously rented for events and performances and still will be, but now has the added functionality of being an art gallery for public consumption.

Now through July 17th, Stockman Gallery features paintings by Zbigniew Grzyb. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 25th from 5-7 p.m.

Connecticut Women Artists will be hosting their October show in Stockman Gallery, and a “call for work” will be going out soon to solicit other shows for the space.

“This is a great opportunity for people to see and enjoy and, perhaps, purchase some art,” says Hard. “It’s also a great opportunity for artists to get exposure—[Grzyb] was ecstatic to see the galley set up; he’s been staring at these paintings in his studio, but this was the first time he saw them as they were meant to be seen.”

Hard is excited to be adding one more positive attraction to Trinity and to New Britain’s downtown and is equally thrilled about the opening of more art spaces in the area. “They’re not competition,” he says, referencing how the arts need to form clusters in order to survive. “We’re glad to have more.”

In fact, “the more the merrier” is one of the ideas motivating another project of the Arts Alliance: HappeningHere.Org.

Happening Here, launching within the next month, is designed to be a one-stop clearinghouse for all things arts in New Britain and surrounding communities. The goal is for a user to log-on and easily find information about all of the great arts events in the area.

According to research by Dr. Richard Benfield and his students at Central Connecticut State University, approximately nine out of ten people are interested in arts and culture, but the majority of them have difficulty finding information about events and organizations. Happening Here seeks to remedy the situation.

With other projects in the works, including the pending selection of a Poet Laureate for the City of New Britain, new art spaces opening and established ones thriving, as well as a slathering of projects related to public and traditional fine arts that it is “too soon to announce,” Happening Here promises to be a robustly stocked portal to the arts in New Britain.

“I don’t think that one little gallery is going to be responsible for the entire revitalization of Downtown,” says Hard, “but it’s one more thing.” New Britain continues to accumulate arts programming, and Hard says that the outlook for the city as a recognized and compelling artistic community is bright.