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.

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We offer:

School Year Programming

  • During and after-school visual arts and performing arts: At Charter Oak and offsite, we offer classes in visual arts, dance and theater.  We also offer Arts for All inclusive classes for students with disabilities and their typically developing peers.
  • Youth Music Instruction: We offer Hartford’s first All-City Youth Orchestra (HACYO).   To support this effort, we have established a community music school that provides private lessons, group classes, instrumental and vocal ensembles for free to underserved Hartford youth at Charter Oak and off-site through partnerships with schools and organizations.  In addition, it serves as a musical gathering place for open mic, jam sessions and recitals.  Within five years, we seek to establish a 100 piece orchestra, made up of Hartford residents, grades 8-12.
  • We 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, self-discipline and much more.

Music Matters at the Sarah J, Rawson School

Music Matters is the first program of its kind in Hartford, in partnership with Christ Church Cathedral and The Common Sense Fund. Grade 4 and 5 students get private and ensemble instrumental music instruction in a comprehensive afterschool program 4 days a week. The students receive instruction in performance, theory, bucket band and music appreciation.

Shared Ability Arts

Taken from a segregated classroom, these students with multiple and sever disabilities meet weekly to dance and create artwork, and are paired with their 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 music camps. We partner with The Funky Dawgz Brass Band and provide instruments and transportation to those in need, all in support of our mission to provide all children with access to high-quality arts education. We offer summertime music instruction for both beginners and experienced student musicians.

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, complete an art activity and take home a free a copy of the book.
  • In the summer months, we offer Dinner and a Movie in our garden.  Dinner and a Movie provides an opportunity for young people and their families to enjoy a free community meal while they enjoy 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.


For more information, contact Brenna Harvey:

See our events calendar for upcoming Youth Arts Institute events.