City School of the Arts


Charter Oak’s City School of the Arts (CSA) is a truly one-of-a-kind program. CSA provides tuition-free arts classes, workshops, and other 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 perseverance, team skills, self-confidence, self-expression, and so much more.

CSA Overview

Classes & Ensembles

Special Programs

Offsite Partnerships

Faculty & Student Spotlight

Youth & Family Events

City School of the Arts Overview

Charter Oak Cultural Center’s City School of the Arts 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…

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

Support for City School of the Arts music programs at Charter Oak Cultural Center provided by Spread Music Now.

This program/project is funded in part with Community Development Block Grant funds allocated to CHARTER OAK TEMPLE RESTORATION ASSOCIATION INC. – CITY SCHOOL OF THE ARTS by the City of Hartford.

City School of the Arts Fall 2023 Registration


Registration is not a guarantee of enrollment.

For questions, please contact Amanda by email, or call (860) 310-2589.

Registro en español

When I was 13, I had no career goals and was undirected. Charter Oak gave me a place to sit down with other kids where we could discuss issues and share our art. We created an environment where we felt safe and grew as people. I am now 19 years old, in college, and an assistant teacher for Charter Oak. I would like to continue my career performing, teaching, and writing poetry books to inspire my community. Charter Oak gave me a direction in life.”

Roberto Sancho

Youth Arts Alumni

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.

City School of the Arts Programs

On-site Classes

Every spring and fall, Charter Oak’s City School of the Arts offers an assortment of arts classes in music, theater, dance, and visual arts. These classes are aimed at students ages 6 to 18, and are held every Monday through Thursday on-site. All classes are free to students. Free summer classes are also available.


Charter Oak houses two ensembles – the Hartford All-City Youth Orchestra and the Funky Dawgz Community Brass Band. Participation in the ensembles and loaner instruments are all free of charge. The Community Brass Band, run by the internationally known Funky Dawgz Brass Band, works with special guest artists like members of the internationally known Trombone Shorty Band.

Special Programs

Charter Oak offers a number of special programs designed to meet the needs and interests of students, families and the community. For example, Charter Oak launched Good Vibrations to help build bridges between the police department and members of the community through music and art. 

Off-site Partners

Charter Oak partners with local schools and organizations to provide quality arts education programs around the city. Classes range from one-day workshops to year-long programs. There are over twenty-five choices for arts classes.

Family & Community

Charter Oak offers special community and family events. Read It and Sleep, Dinner and a Movie, and our Community Dinners, promote engagement with the arts in a community context. We also offer holiday arts events and workshops for families.

From having the supplies delivered to our home to seeing my daughter chop and try onions and peppers in her cooking class, it was very nice to see it all. I am so thankful for all the staff at Charter Oak, especially during this time. My daughter felt like she was back in a classroom setting with great teachers and friends which has been something many children have been missing. I can’t wait to see what other classes are offered in the future and what great things my daughter will accomplish taking classes at Charter Oak.

Yeilene Ruiz


City School of the Arts Sponsors


P.K. and Phoebe Allen

Bank of America Charitable Foundation

The Barnes Foundation, Inc.

Russell Bell and Rachel Gates-Bell

J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Inc.

James Brodey

Celeste Polley Burns

Christ Church Cathedral

City of Hartford – Grants Management

Adam Cohen

Common Sense Fund

Creative Music Center

Barbara O. David

Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

The Fund for Greater Hartford

Tiffany Glanville

Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust

Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Fund

Francine and Robert Goldfarb

Greater Hartford Arts Council

The Gryphon Fund

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Elwyn V. Harp

Albert Honegan

Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford 

Lincoln Financial Group Foundation

Adlyn and Ted Loewenthal

Andrew and Joyce Mandell

Joshua Michtom

Kinder Morgan

Musical Club of Hartford, Inc.

The Phoenix Insurance

Charles Nelson Robinson Fund

Tricia Samuels

Amy Selzer Memorial Fund



Michael Wilder

Jane Zande and Jeff Smith

Lip Sync Battle!

Lip Sync Battle!

Calling all youth! Be A Friend Project is hosting a lip synch battle competition to raise awareness around social bullying. Broadway judges and awesome prizes await your entry!...

read more