culture more vibrant
what we could become if we enhanced our centers, connected our assets, and told our story: a vibrant, historic, and cultural magnet
play400: culture more vibrant
We have exceptional assets and strengths in arts and culture, reflecting the richness of our growing diversity. Our sports stadiums, art museums, music halls, and neighborhood cultural attractions are pulling in visitors from across the Northeast; downtown is emerging as a vibrant urban and residential hub. We should aspire to become the most accessible and vibrant cultural capital in New England. We must tell the complex stories of Hartford’s unique past, from pre-history to the Native American era to the past four centuries. And we must connect people across four seasons through sports, parks, arts, history, and nightlife. A vibrant cultural setting and diverse lifestyles are also essential to attracting and retaining talent and investment.
Areas of Focus: Arts/Culture, Lifestyle/Livability, Tourism/Sports
Recommendations & Actions
Arts & Culture
The Valley and Capital City score way above their size in arts and cultural assets. This is a legacy of Hartford’s period as one of the nation’s wealthiest cities, and a continuing tradition of foresighted and generous benefactors. These assets are a major attraction for visitors, new residents, talented workers, and investment, and contribute enormously to the regional economy.
Cultural institutions anchor communities, and the Valley and Capital City are held firmly by a host of institutions that produce a collective impact well beyond their individual programming. Strengthening cooperative action and initiative by arts and cultural venues will ensure continued strength in this sector, spur further investment in their surrounding communities and public environments, attract visitors and new companies to the region, and strengthen communal bonds across the valley.
The region’s small businesses and arts organizations are always looking for ways to increase their exposure, and festivals do that while bringing people together! These events allow a neighborhood or town to showcase the best they have to offer, and provide opportunity for residents to get to know each other better in a fun, inviting atmosphere.
Sports & Tourism
Building on the growing success of a range of athletic and professional sports options in the Valley, both for spectators and participants. Bolster the activities of the Hartford Yard Goats, Hartford Athletic, New Britain Bees, Hartford Wolf Pack, and UConn Athletics.
Hartford has recently contracted with a couple of agencies to promote the area on a local, regional, and national scale.
An admirable Yankee reticence to boast also means a missed opportunity to tell our story – success stories in agriculture, food, the arts, innovative businesses, as well as new investments in transportation infrastructure and housing.
Some new conversation has begun around a “regional asset district”, an idea that could better fund and promote the organizations and attractions in our region that folks around the region, and out of town, use that stimulate economic activity.
With funding to promote, we can expand cultural tourism both to the Capital City and the Connecticut River Valley as a whole. Separating responsibility for regional promotion from a statewide body will help focus investment, and not confuse visitors as to our location compared to other areas in the state.
Lifestyle & Livability
The next generation will evaluate the liveliness of the urban core, its cultural, entertainment, and sports offerings (both spectator and participatory, such as hiking, biking and water sports), its housing choices, its accessibility to New York and Boston by train, its connections to the nation and world through Bradley Airport, and its encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation. The pandemic saw many families leave big cities for our region because of the quality of life here.
It is essential to have appropriate housing choices (rental and for sale) to capitalize on the growing number of retirees looking to relocate to walkable, urban areas with cultural and educational amenities; develop policies and promote housing which allows for “aging in place”. The AARP has many resources to support these endeavors.
Ensure that plans include consideration to those contemplating starting a family. Prospective employees will weigh the long-term viability of the region for raising a family even if they are single at the time. This includes good schools, parks, public safety, natural assets such as hiking and water activities, and good hospitals and healthcare.
This is a possible approach to emphasize the region’s growing urban amenities and the convenient proximity of a host of activities in natural settings, a combination that most small towns and large cities cannot offer.