A Conversation with Former First Lady of Connecticut Cathy Malloy

How has life changed after serving as First Lady of Connecticut for 8 years? Is returning to “private life” difficult or a welcome change?

Serving the State of Connecticut for the past 8 years was an incredible opportunity and honor to serve the citizens of the State of Connecticut,  living in Hartford at The Residence was also a wonderful and memorable period of our lives. Dan and I were always able to keep a good balance between our private and public life so the transition was not very difficult, although I will say that we are thrilled to have our own home again and a bit more privacy.

Your husband hasn’t been allowed to drive a car in 8 years. How’s he doing behind the wheel?

Dan started back to work the Monday after the inauguration which required him to get behind the wheel pretty quickly!  He is doing great and he loves being back in Boston teaching at his Alma Mater, Boston College Law School for the Spring Semester.

How have you seen Hartford arts scene change; what role do the arts play here in Hartford?

Cathy Malloy, CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council

Cathy Malloy, CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council

We are incredibly fortunate to live in the City of Hartford. The city is so rich in the arts, culture and history. The arts continue to play a very significant role in driving the economy, providing an incredible quality of life, promoting the diversity of the region and its citizens, enhancing our educational system, insuring a healthy and happy lifestyle and contributing to the safety of our citizens.  Who knew the Arts could do all that!?

Can you tell about some of the programs and events the Greater Hartford Arts Council has developed/sponsored and how they have influenced the community?

Thanks to our donors, Arts Council is proud to support more than 150 arts and cultural organizations throughout the Capital Region each year. That support, helps enable hundreds of programs and events throughout our community and reach thousands of people. In addition to the financial support we provide, the Arts Council has also developed several important community programs in recent years, including:

-     Summer in the City, in partnership with the City of Hartford and made possible by United Technologies, which helps ensure the continuation of our community’s largest arts and cultural festivals each summer and highlights the amazing events that take throughout the summer months. SummerInHartford.com to find art, music and culture all summer long.

-     Art on the Streets, which is made possible by Aetna, puts artists on the streets of downtown Hartford during the lunch hours in May and June. The artists offer interactive arts activities, dance lessons and music to inspire people to participate in the arts and experience the healing benefits they bring. LetsGoArts.org/Streets to see this year’s schedule.

-     Make Music Hartford is part of an international celebration of music, Make Music Day, which takes place in more than 800 cities worldwide on June 21st, the summer solstice. Last year was the first time Hartford participated and we had more than 80 free musical events from jazz, reggae and rock performances to bucket drumming lessons, a hip hop cypher and even a kazoo parade down Pratt Street. This year our goal is 100 free musical events, so visit MakeMusicDay.org/Hartford to see how to get involved.

Do you have a favorite story to tell that relates to how the arts have influenced the community?

The arts impact our community in countless ways, but some of the most incredible examples have come through our work in therapeutic arts programing. Through our Arts + Wellness grant program, which we launched in 2015, we have been able to provide funding for EasterSeals’ Camp Hemlocks arts enrichment program. With this grant, the camp, which serves adults with moderate to severe disabilities, is able to provide both dance and movement classes, as well as a visual arts program. The dance classes give participants the opportunity to express themselves and work with a professional dance instructor in a fully supported environment. The class also performs during the camp talent show, offering participants the opportunity to move, perform and express themselves before a full audience – which many have never had the opportunity to do.

During a recent camp session, one of the most moving moments was in the zentangle class, where participants were drawing designs in a circular pattern with beams of light radiating outward. One of the participants, Maureen, is blind and had an aide draw for her. She told the aide what to do and what colors to use. Amazingly, Maureen’s piece was the most colorful and looked much like the iris of an eye!  

What are you most proud of at the GHAC?

There are so many things that I am proud of when I think about the Greater Hartford Arts Council. My team is something I am very proud of, their dedication to the Arts and to this region is what makes coming to work every day something I look forward to and of course those who came before them who really put in place a very solid foundation for us to build upon. We are also very fortunate to have a strong board and dedicated volunteers who help us to achieve our Mission each and every day.  I am also very proud and honored to represent and advocate on behalf of the Arts, I have come to regard so many members of the community as friends, it is an equally dedicated, passionate and professional group of people that put their heart in sole into the support of Arts and Culture in this region. I guess to ask what I am most proud of is really to have the opportunity to promote the Arts; it’s a great honor.

What are some of your favorite arts experiences?

This can be a tricky question!  if I start naming off all the great experiences I would be nervous to leave something out which certainly not be a good thing!! The fact is that there is so much to choose from; whether it’s spending an afternoon walking through galleries of world class museums, enjoying theater, the symphony, live music in our parks, film, poetry, a tour through our historic homes it goes on and on.  I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite experience, each one is special unto itself.

What are your hopes for the future of the arts in Hartford?

My hope for the future of the Arts in Hartford and the region is that it continues to be seen as vital in every aspect of growth and prosperity for the city and the region, that not only will the political leaders, corporate leaders, residents and visitors see it playing an important role in the regions success but that they continue to support it through participation and financial support.  We are thrilled to see the emphasis on STEM in our educational programs particularly the encouragement of Science and Math for young women and girls! However, we would LOVE to see the letter “A” for Arts in there as well. For us, STEAM can be even more empowering.