Youth Arts Institute

Youth Arts Institute

Charter Oak Cultural Center’s Youth Arts Institute is dedicated to providing wide access to the arts for Hartford youth and to strengthening family and community through professional and community arts programming.

We do this by:

1) Offering free, inclusive, visual art, music, theater and dance classes both onsite at Charter Oak and through partnerships

2) Offering free family events that encourage life-long learning through the arts

Our Values:

    • We believe that everyone is an artist.
    • We believe in providing programs to meet the needs of the whole person.
    • We believe in offering a variety of classes in order to stimulate creativity and appeal to different learning styles.
    • We believe in allowing students an opportunity to identify with art in their own unique way.
    • We believe in making the arts accessible to everyone.
    • We believe in the art of collaboration and the importance of a final presentation to celebrate the achievement of goals and learning.
  • We believe in the value of Non-Violent Communication, a conflict resolution technique that helps students to express themselves and get their needs met without resorting to anger or violence.

Find us on Facebook! 

We offer:

  • SCHOOL YEAR PROGRAMMINGDuring and after-school visual arts and performing arts: At Charter Oak and offsite, we offer classes in music, visual arts, dance and theater.  We also offer Hartford’s first All-City Youth Orchestra (HACYO) for middle and high school students in the greater-Hartford area and the Charter Oak Funky Dawgz Brass Band, run by the nationally known Funky Dawgz Brass Band. See below for Fall 2019 Classes!
  • MONTESSORI: Charter Oak piloted a Montessori-based Parent and Infant Class that offers primary caregivers support for their needs and those of their children.  This class provides information regarding the first three years of life and how to encourage movement, language, independence, and self-discipline.  Coming again this fall.
  • MUSIC MATTERS:Music Matters is the first program of its kind in Hartford.  Students in grades 4 and 5 receive private and ensemble instrumental music instruction in a comprehensive afterschool program 4 days a week. The program includes a snack, homework assistance, and dinner each evening.
  • SHARED ABILITY ARTS: Taken from a segregated classroom, these students with multiple and severe disabilities meet weekly to dance, create artwork, and be partnered with typically-developing peers. Classes are held with a physical therapist present so students are able to stand with assistance or with special equipment.
  • SUMMER PROGRAMMING: Every summer, Charter Oak Cultural Center hosts multiple camps, which vary each year.  Learning to Repair the World is one ofthose programs and is an exciting two week summer experience designed to give Jewish, Muslim and Christian high school students the opportunity to get to know each other as they do hands-on social justice work in Hartford, explore local and more global social justice issues and work together on a multi-media arts project. Daily activities will also include lectures and discussions with community leaders. Other programs include a brass band camp with the Funky Dawgz, and a combined music, dance and visual art camp.  All programs are free, in support of our mission to provide all children with access to high-quality arts education.
  • EVENING FAMILY PROGRAMS: We provide Read it and Sleep, a monthly event for neighborhood children and their families.  At Read it and Sleep, families enjoy snacks, hear a bedtime story read by a local leader, and take home a free a copy of the book.   In the summer months, we offer Dinner and a Moviein our garden.  This program provides an opportunity for families to enjoy a free community meal while they view a film outdoors in our garden.  The films we select are based on popular books and we provide each family with a free copy of the book to take home.  Charter Oak also offers family holiday events and activities. Please check our Events Tab to see what is in store!
  • GOOD VIBRATIONS: In the spring of 2015, Charter Oak launched Good Vibrations, in partnership with The Hartford Police Department.   Twenty-five middle school boys were selected to take either a free guitar class (and receive a free guitar) or a rap poetry class, in which students learn to rap and make CDs of their work. The boys and the police make music together in class and, more importantly, take a step toward building a positive relationship with each other.   “Good Vibes” won a White House Champions of Change Award in 2015.

Fall 2019 Classes Now Enrolling!


Charter Oak Cultural Center’s Youth Arts Institute is a truly one-of-a-kind program. Youth arts provides TUITION-FREE arts classes, workshops, and programming to over 1,000 Hartford area youth each year. All children should have access to high-quality arts education. Learning an art form enhances creativity, and teaches perseverance, team skills, self-confidence, self-expression and more.
All classes begin September 23rd and are FREE for all students! Final student showcase and community dinner will be held on Monday, December 9!


4:30pm – 6:30pm: Hartford All-City Youth Orchestra (HACYO) – This string ensemble is for students with at least one year of experience with a musical instrument. Students in middle or high school are encouraged to join. Class begins October 7.
5:30-6:30pm: Yoga. This class will teach exercise techniques to help students build strength, reduce stress, and find balance. Ages 6 to 18.
6:30pm-7:30pm: Hartford Young Writer’s Club. Explore creative writing through fun individual and group projects. Ages 8 to 18.
6:30pm-7:30pm: Ballet. This elegant and graceful dance class if for all levels. Ages 6 to 18.
6:30pm-7:30pm: Theatre. Build confidence and express yourself as you learn to act on stage. Ages 6 to 18. 


4:30pm-5:30pm: Vocal Ensemble. Sing your favorite tunes while learning vocal technique, arranging, and harmony singing. Ages 6 to 18.
4:30pm-5:30pm: Keyboard 1 (A). Beginner piano class for students ages 6 to 18.
5:30pm-6:30pm: Keyboard 1 (B). Another section of beginner piano class for students ages 6 to 18.
6:30pm-7:30pm: Keyboard 2. Piano 2 is for students age 6 to 18 with some basic knowledge of the instrument.
5:30pm-6:30pm – Hip Hop Dance (A). This high energy dance class is for all levels, ages 6 to 18.
6:30pm-7:30pm – Hip Hop Dance (B). Another section of high energy dance class for ages 6 to 18.
6:00pm-7:00pm – General Art. This class will explore different mediums of art and create fun craft projects. Ages 6 to 18.


4:30pm-5:30pm – Violin 1. This beginner violin class is for students age 6 to 18.
5:30pm-6:30pm – Violin 2. This intermediate class is for students ages 6 to 18 with some basic knowledge of violin technique.
6:30pm -8:00pm – Funky Community Brass Band. Taught by the nationally-known Funky Dawgz Brass Band, this high energy New Orleans Style band is for students in middle and high school. Students need at least one year of experience on a brass or woodwind instrument. **Homework tutoring and dinner is available for Funky Dawgz Brass Band members from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.


Our free programming is designed to help those most in need and we therefore consider household income when we assess eligibility for our classes. We welcome families to apply. We will get back to you as soon as possible about the status of your application.