Youth Arts Institute

Youth Arts Institute

Youth Arts Institute…at home!


All classes will be held online through the video chat service Zoom. Classes begin Monday, October 5th and end Thursday, December 3rdClasses are FREE for all students and all class supplies will be delivered to your home. Our virtual student showcase will be Monday, December 7th.

Charter Oak Cultural Center’s Youth Arts Institute (YAI) is a truly one-of-a-kind program. YAI provides tuition-free arts classes, workshops, and programming to over 1,000 Hartford youth each year. All children should have access to high-quality arts education. Learning an art form enhances creativity, and teaches perserverence, team skills, self-confidence, self-expression, and so much more.


To access the above graphic as a PDF, click here, YAI Fall2020 Class Brochure P1 (1)

IMPORTANT NOTES: Schedule and class offerings are subject to change. 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.


4:30 to 5:30 PM – Hip Hop Dance (A). This high energy dance class is for all students ages 6 to 18.

5:30 to 6:30PM – Ballet. This elegant and graceful dance class is for all levels, ages 6 to 18.

6:30 to 7:30PM – Chess. Learn the exciting game of strategy and problem-solving. Ages 8 to 18.

6:30 to 7:30PM – 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. HACYO now includes semi-private lessons!


5:30 to 6:30PM – Painting & DrawingLearn different art techniques as you create beautiful pictures. Ages 6 to 18.

5:30 to 6:30PM – Vocal Ensemble. Sing your favorite tunes while learning vocal techniques. Ages 6 to 18.

6:30 to 7:30PM – Hip Hop Dance (B)This high energy dance class is for all students, ages 6 to 18.


4:30 to 5:30 – Piano 1. This beginner piano class is for students ages 6 to 18. Instructors will place students in Piano 1 or 2 based on age and experience.

5:30 to 6:30PM – Piano 2. Piano 2 is for students ages 6 to 18 with intermediate piano skill. Instructors will place students in Piano 1 or 2 based on age and experience.

5:30 – 6:30PM – Art Therapy. Learn how art can help express emotions, lower stress, and build self-esteem, while also creating fun, beautiful projects. Ages 6 to 18.

6:30 to 7:30PM – Recorder. The recorder is a fun wind instrument and a great start for kids who want to play the flute, clarinet, or saxophone someday! Ages 6 to 18.

6:30 to 7:30PM – Funky Community Brass BandTaught by the nationally-known Funky Dawgz Brass Band, this high energy New Orleans-style band is for students in middle and high school. At least one year of experience on a brass or woodwind instrument is necessary. Now includes semi-private lessons!


4:30 to 5:30PM – Knitting. Learn to create scarves and other cozy clothes. Ages 6 to 18.

5:30 to 6:30PM – Crafts. Enjoy working with your hands to create fun craft projects. Ages 6 to 18.

6:30 to 7:30PM – Creative Science. This class will do fun and exciting science, technology, and engineering experiments and projects. Ages 8+

5:30 to 6:30PM – Hartford Young Writers. This class provides inspiration for young writers as they explore their imaginations through poetry, short stories, and writing about their lives. Ages 9 to 12.

6:30 to 7:30PM – Word Up! Writing for Teens. A space for teen writers to be creative, share their voices, and express themselves through the written word. Ages 12-18.

To access the registration form as a downloadable/printable PDF, click here: Charter Oak 2020 Fall Class Registration Form

To submit your registration form or more information by email, write to or call Brenna at (860) 310-2589 


Even though we are all at home for the foreseeable future, there is no need to miss out on the fun and enjoyment of arts education! Our Youth Arts Institute teachers have put together these resources for your entertainment and instruction. Please check back weekly for more lessons, videos, tips, and content from our instructors picked just for you!

SPECIAL NOTE: Weekly Zoom sessions are being held for most YAI classes.  Please check your email for details and  links.





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.