Ethnic, immigrant, and occupational communities in Connecticut have an extraordinary commitment to maintaining their cultural heritage and identity while experiencing and adapting to new social and cultural environments. The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CCHAP) encourages and promotes traditional artists and their communities through an active process of documentation, technical assistance, and public presentation to bring their work and the history of their communities to new audiences. The fieldwork-based program is unique in Connecticut, employing original research in partnership with artists and communities to strengthen community-based resources. CCHAP documents tradition bearers across the state whose work would otherwise remain unknown or under-represented, collecting this material into a valuable archive of Connecticut traditions that is open to researchers and the public by appointment at the Connecticut Historical Society.
CCHAP helps to express and enhance community cultural vitality through transforming research material (observations, recorded interviews, collection of artistic histories and music) into activities of interest to audiences. Commitment to authenticity of cultural representation and inclusion of members of the communities in research and program development are fundamental characteristics of CCHAP’s projects. A central program objective is to bring the excellence of traditional arts, which speak volumes about a community’s history and values, to greater public attention.
CCHAP began in 1991, when the Institute for Community Research (ICR) established the state folk arts program with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. After being supported by ICR for 24 years, CCHAP moved to the Connecticut Historical Society in 2015. Our funding partners have included NEA, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, Connecticut Humanities, the City of Hartford, the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Community Folklife Program, the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, the Ensworth Charitable Foundation, the Knox Foundation, the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls, and several other foundations and donors.
We partner with local cultural groups to locate and interview artists from their communities, photograph or record their work, and learn from them about their art forms. Learn more about CCHAP’s relationship with local artists.
CCHAP produces exhibits, performances, demonstrations, radio broadcasts, compact discs, and catalogues featuring the art work of Connecticut’s finest traditional artists. Our public events provide opportunities for audiences to interact directly with a wide range of communities and their artists. Learn more about CCHAP’s projects.
Information, images, and recordings from 25 years of fieldwork are organized and stored in CCHAP’s archive, which is accessible for public use.
CCHAP mentors artists, connects them with appropriate resources for their work, and advises them on topics such as presentation methods and curriculum development.
CCHAP shares information about traditional artists, art forms, and Connecticut’s diverse cultures with individuals, arts presenters, educational organizations, and community groups.
CCHAP offers workshops, panel discussions, school programs, and training sessions with and for folk artists, educators, and public audiences. We coordinate the Southern New England Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program in partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.