The Cultural Alliance’s monthly SPOTLIGHT ON ARTS & CULTURE live on-air interview program is broadcast monthly at noon on the 2nd Monday of each month on community radio station WPKN 89.5FM, based in Bridgeport. Broadcasts are also available as podcasts via SoundCloud. Click on the following titles to hear the programs.

NOVEMBER 2023                               Arts & Culture In Community College

Our November “Spotlight on Arts & Culture” features Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport. In this episode, Executive Director Erika Wesley, will introduce herself to WPKN listeners and discuss her work as a literary artist, nonprofit executive, and lover of arts and culture. Jennifer will discuss her role as art administrator of the second-largest art collection housed at a community college in the country! She will also discuss the initiatives at the Housatonic Museum of Art and the intersection between art and community.


SEPTEMBER 2023 Highlights from Six Years of “Spotlight” Interviews
David Green’s last broadcast  was organized around clips from some of his favorite Spotlight broadcasts over the last six years. He discussed his choices with incoming CAFC executive director, Erika Wesley. Featured were interviews with (in order of appearance): Adger Cowans, Phil Kuchma, Steve di Costanzo, Christopher Wigren, Wes Haynes, Robin Panovka, Jane Davila, Maisa Tisdale, Ramin Ganeshram and Debra Mecky.


AUGUST 2023 RiseUP for Arts and Public Art Murals in Connecticut
We focused our August “Spotlight” on RiseUP for Arts, a member organization that, though based in Hartford, is active in organizing mural projects around Connecticut, including in our region of Fairfield County. We speak with executive director Matt Conway about how this organization trains artists, negotiates with municipalities and building owners, raises funds and coordinates the completion of amazing murals, often working with young people.
Other guests include three artists involved in RiseUP projects: Alissa Siegal, Lauren Clayton and John Paul O’Grodnick as well as with building owner Mitchell Kidd, with The Wellbuilt Company, that has sponsored murals in Stamford, and Marc Alan, with the Norwalk Arts & Culture Commission.
Check out this program and learn about the impact this organization, and the murals it coordinates, are making in our region.
JULY 2023 Good to Great: Transforming Cultural Organizations
Our July “Spotlight” shined a light on 9 quite different organizations in our region who received the highly competitive “Good to Great” grant, jointly administered by the CT Office of the Arts and CT Humanities, designed to help transform the visitor experience at their institutions.  The grant is awarded to “organizations of all sizes who demonstrate deep thinking about who they are as organizations, and what they could be if granted access to capital funding.” We thought this was a great opportunity to spotlight these organizations, the work they do, and how they will be using their grants to transform their organizations.

Our guests were:
• Cybele Maylone, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield
• Peter Gistelinck, Avon Theatre Film Center, Stamford
• Kathy Maher, Barnum Museum, Bridgeport
• Tracy Kay, Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens, Stamford
• Howard Lasser, Brookfield Craft Center, Brookfield
• Hilary Wittmann, Carriage Barn Arts Center, New Canaan
• Clare Murray, cARTie, Shelton
• Maggie Dimock, Greenwich Historical Society, Greenwich
• Steve di Costanzo, WPKN, Bridgeport


JUNE 2023  The ACE Awardees: The Role of the Arts & Culture in Building Community
As we celebrate our ACE Awardees (see details here), we interviewed them on our June show about the role that community plays in their work. At our June 21 awards breakfast we will focus on how the arts and culture is the glue for our communities, highlighting the significant role that artists and arts and cultural institutions play in connecting communities across government, businesses, nonprofit agencies, educational institutions and municipalities. This connection activates communities, offers common ground, and creates a sense of place that leads to economically and socially thriving communities.

Our guests were:
• Cris Dam, Artist Award
• Vic Mulaire, The NEST Arts Factory, Citizen Award
• David Genovese, Baywater Properties, Corporate Award
• Jenny Nelson, Westport Country Playhouse, Educator Award
• Michael Jehle, Fairfield Museum & History Centre, Nonprofit Award


MAY 2023 The Arts and Preservation
The arts bring renewed vitality, energy, engagement and economic stimulus to our communities. The arts especially can breathe new life into old buildings when they are smartly and sensitively restored. This month we look at the journey that two groups took in finding the right space for their arts organization, how they redeveloped the buildings they found, and what the impact has been. The Norwalk Art Space opened in June 2021 and greeted 14,000 visitors in its first year. Metro Art Studios in Bridgeport opened in November 2021. Both buildings won Awards of Merit from PreservationCT in 2022. In addition, we look at a building that is currently being restored and renovated for use as an art space: The Granite Church in Redding.

Our guests are:
• Jane Davila, Executive Director, Metro Art Studios, Bridgeport
• Robin Panovka, The Norwalk Art Space
• Richard Wenning, Executive Director, Be Foundation, Co-founder at SpreadMusicNow & Granite Church
• Christopher Wigren, Deputy Director, Preservation Connecticut

APRIL 2023 The Arts and Healing
For our April broadcast we examined the power of creative expression as a means of coping, healing, and restoration. How can the arts be a bridge to mindfulness, reflection and transformation, particularly in the context of the current state of our world?

Our guests were Dianne Niklaus, a Creative Wellness Coach; Darcy Hicks, visual artist and Director of Education at The Norwalk Art Space; Felicity Kostakis, artist and art teacher; Tatiana Mori, Director of the Greenwich Arts Council; and Patricia Spugani, Community Outreach & Lighting Designer at Town Players of New Canaan which recently produced Ordinary People to contribute to the conversation around mental health.

MARCH 2023 The Arts and Social Justice
The arts can radiate and transform non-arts organizations by encouraging and reinforcing the power of creativity and self-expression. Hear from the leaders of two Bridgeport-based social justice organizations that have discovered the power of the arts to help them do their work more effectively and radiantly. Debra Greenwood leads the Center for Family Justice, and Edith Boyle, LifeBridge. They are joined by multidisciplinary Bridgeport artist Alicia Cobb, who has been working with both organizations.
FEBRUARY 2023 The Meaning of Black History Month
Hear from Maisa Tisdale, President and CEO of The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community, and Pam Lewis, Executive Director of Connect-Us, about the meaning of Black History Month: how it got started, what its importance is today for all of us, and especially for young black people.
JANUARY 2023 2023: Artists Looking Back/Looking Forward
For our first broadcast of 2023 we invited a range of artists to look back at their highlights of 2022 and what they were looking forward to in 2023. Most were still feeling the impacts of COVID in various ways. Many were looking forward to recalibrating their public:private balance – some looking forward to more studio time, others to more public engagement. Many were enjoying working with young people – as teachers, mentors, or working together on projects like public art. Hear the range of these artists’ achievements and ambitions in this energetic conversation. 

Artists featured were: Alicia Cobb (Bridgeport), Joseph Dermody (Stamford), Afsaneh Djabbari-Aslani (New Canaan), JAHMANE (Norwalk), Jana Ireijo (Westport), Felicity Kostakis (Greenwich), Shanna Melton (Bridgeport), Jill Nichols (Shelton), Rick Shaefer (Fairfield), Alissa Siegal (Stamford), and Brian Whelan (Wilton).

DECEMBER 2022 Symphonic Changes
In our December broadcast, we talked to the leaders of four of the prestigious orchestras in our region about the changes happening with the orchestras. Meet Mark Halstead, Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, Russell Jones, President & CEO of Orchestra Lumos, Stuart Malina, Music Director of The Greenwich Symphony, and Jonathan Yates, Music Director of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra.

The Greater Bridgeport Symphony is auditioning conductors for its new Music Director; Orchestra Lumos, formerly the Stamford Symphony found its new Music Director, Michael Stern in 2019, and the Greenwich Symphony recently selected Stuart Malina as its new Music Director. Jonathan Yates, on the other hand, has been Music Director at the Norwalk Symphony and the Norwalk Youth Symphony since 2011. Hear how these orchestras found creative ways to respond to the COVID challenge to keep audiences connected, and how they continue to plan new ways of expanding their audiences and attracting new sponsors through increasingly creative and innovative programs.

NOVEMBER 2022 Giving Thanks for Arts Support in Connecticut
In our November “Spotlight on Arts & Culture” we took advantage of the season, and of the recent election results, to give thanks – for the support that the arts and culture sector receives from our state legislature, as well as from individual donors, our local businesses and family foundations. Guests included two recently re-elected legislators, Lucy Dathan, representing Norwalk and New Canaan, and David Michel representing Stamford. They were joined by Brett Thompson, Executive Director of the CT Arts Alliance, the main advocacy body for the arts in Connecticut, and Scott Wands, in Director of Grants & Programs at CT Humanities. Guests reviewed how arts, culture and tourism (ACT) are currently funded in CT, what the impact was of recent post-COVID windfall funding, and how together we can create a plan, or Roadmap, to put ACT funding on a more equitable, sustainable and predictable footing in the future. 
OCTOBER 2022 Meet Randy Cohen + Preview of the Bridgeport Art Trail
In our double-header show in October, we first introduced Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research at Americans for the Arts, and the main force behind the influential Arts & Economic Prosperity Study. This measures the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry on our towns, regions and states, and the Cultural Alliance is leading the study by conducting audience surveys at cultural events through April 2023. Hear from Randy why this is such a big deal.

Then we invite several of the organizers and presenters of the Bridgeport Art Trail to talk about some of the highlights of the upcoming 14th Art Trail, slated for Nov. 10-13. Hear founder and chief organizer, Suzanne Kachmar, and other key participants, including artist and gallerist Cris Dam, artist Richard Killeaney, and Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District President & CEO, Lauren Coakley Vincent, talk to what’s special about the BAT and  why this one promises to be the “best ever.”


SEPTEMBER 2022 What Paier College Is Bringing to Bridgeport Arts & Culture
Our September interview was with President Joseph Bierbaum, President of Paier College, which last year took over the Arnold Bernhard Center for Arts & Humanities, formerly owned by the University of Bridgeport.

We will also talk with Khanlar Gasimov, an Azerbaijani sculptor with an international reputation, who is the new director of the Schelfhaudt Gallery, one of the largest in the region, founded in 1968, and to Ian McDonald, Technical Director & Event Coordinator at the Mertens Theater. Both the Schelfhaudt and Mertens are part of the Arnold Bernhard Center.

Discover what Paier College is bringing to Bridgeport Arts & Culture.


AUGUST 2022 The Levitt Pavilion and Other Great Free Music Venues
For our August show we turned our attention to some of the great free concert series in our region. Our main focus was on The Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Westport. For almost 50 years, this community-based, magical performance space has welcomed performing artists from all genres and from the local to the internationally known. With a few fundraising concerts, it otherwise offers mostly free concerts. We interview Freda and Carleigh Welsh, the driving forces behind The Pavilion and its commitment to creating a strong community through music and the other performing arts. We also hear from Bennie Wallace, renowned saxophonist with BackCountry Jazz, who created the Greenwich Jazz Festival, and from Paul Frucht, Artistic Director of the Charles Ives Music Festival.
JULY 2022 Dance in Fairfield County: The Fairfield County Dance Festival
In this program we explore and celebrate Dance in Fairfield County, on the occasion of the Second Fairfield County Dance Festival, taking place in July 2022 across six towns in our region, from Tuesday, July 12 in New Canaan and continuing in Fairfield, Bridgeport, Norwalk, Darien & Westport through July 28.

Hear from the co-directors of the Dance Festival, Ted Thomas, with Thomas/Ortiz Dance, the New England Academy of Dance and the New England Dance Theater in New Canaan, and Claire Mazza, co-founder and artistic director of the East Coast Contemporary Ballet. Putting the Festival in the context of the history of dance and dance performance in our region of Fairfield County, hear Marti Etter, founder of the Ballet School of Stamford, which recently moved into its latest quarters in the Stamford Town Center Mall, in an exciting partnership with the internationally renowned, New York-based, Parsons Dance.

JUNE 2022 The Norwalk Art Space
Join with us in celebrating the first anniversary of The Norwalk Art Space – an arts center that promotes local artists, offers free art classes to high-schoolers and provides a welcoming space for the public to enjoy the arts and music. It is located in a beautifully renovated Christian Science Church adjacent to Norwalk’s Mathews Park. The visionary founder of The Norwalk Art Space was Alexandra Korry, who died before the building was finished and the Space was opened last June. The building, ADK House, is named in her honor.

Hear Alexandra’s husband and partner in this venture, Robin Panovka, speak about the journey to create the Space and how he judges its success; Duvian Montoya, Artistic and Education Director speak about the impact of the first year of TNAS on himself and the community; and hear Lorena Sferlazza, one of the first four “Resident Artists,” who taught Norwalk high-schoolers in exchange for a studio in the building speak about its impact on herself as an artist, her students, and the community.


MAY 2022 Richard Klein – The Artist & The Museum
Our May interview was with Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, who is leaving the museum in June 2022. Hear how his own interests as a practicing artist have evolved in parallel ways to his work as a curator. Richard speaks about the 10 years in which he worked with founder Larry Aldrich, and how this unique museum has changed over the 30 years of his tenure. What were some of the most outstanding and controversial of the 100 exhibits Richard has curated and co-curated at the Aldrich, and what exciting projects does he have up his sleeve for his next phase?
APRIL 2022 Shining a Light: Greenwich Historical Society Uncovering Lost Voices in Local History
Our April 2022 show features Debra Mecky, Executive Director of the Greenwich History Society (GHS) speaking on the Society’s dedication to uncover, elevate and amplify some of the lost or under-represented voices in local history. The program focuses on the Society’s second annual series of lectures, “Shining a Light,” that gives the stage to speakers who are dedicated to interpreting, restoring and preserving these histories. Dennis Culliton, founder of The Witness Stones Project, describes the Project and its impact on schoolchildren. Heather Lodge, Manager of Youth & Family Programs at GHS, and Stephanie Barnett, Public Programs Manager, fill out the story with details about the Witness Stones project and ceremony in Greenwich, and more information on Bridgeport’s Little Liberia, the subject of Maisa Tisdale’s presentation. Find out more at


MARCH 2022 Liz Squillace – Bridgeport Artist
Meet Bridgeport artist extraordinaire, Liz Squillace, portraitist, muralist, cityscape artist, owner of Paradox Ink, and arguably the best translator of the spirit and imagery of this city that Bridgeport has. What brought Liz to Bridgeport, what drives her, and what does she see in its future?
FEBRUARY 2022 Exploring Fairfield County’s Traditional Arts
This month’s program explores what folk and traditional arts practices are alive and kicking across coastal Fairfield County. Meet Janet Evelyn the “Folk & Traditional Arts Community Impact Coordinator” for coastal Fairfield County – a short-term position created and funded by Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CCHAP) and the CT Office of the Arts (COA). Hear Tamara Dimitri from COA, and Kate Schramm, Director of CCHAP, talk about why this program came about and hear highlights of what Janet has discovered so far, with clips from some of her interviews.
JANUARY 2022 Arts Councils Lead the Way
This month we focus on our local arts councils and commissions. What are they, what do they do, how do they help the arts and the public, and what are their goals for the New Year? Our guests include Nancy Diamond, Chair of the Westport Arts Advisory Commission, Lou Ursone, Member of the Stamford Arts & Culture Commission, and Tatiana Mori, Executive Director of the Greenwich Arts Council. Tune in Monday for Arts Councils Lead the Way.
DECEMBER 2021  The Arts, Culture and Future of Bridgeport
Join Phil Kuchma, Lauren Coakley Vincent and Steve Di Costanzo Mon Dec. 13 at 12pm as they discuss how the arts and culture is the secret sauce in driving Bridgeport’s future.

• Builder and real estate manager and developer Phil Kuchma has been shaping downtown Bridgeport since 1972; key arts venues now cluster around his “Bijou Square”.

• Steve di Costanzo has led WPKN Community Radio since 2012. What does the recent move to Downtown’s Bijou Theatre mean for the station? How important is place to a radio station?

• Lauren Coakley Vincent is finishing her fourth year leading the BridgeportDSSD InfoBridgeport, transformed by her #ColorfulBridgeportcampaign, public art commissions, and more. How far can the arts drive a city’s economy and spirit?


NOVEMBER 2021  Bridgeport Art Trail – 2021
  For the last 12 years, November has meant the Bridgeport Art Trail. This year, after 2020, when COVID forced events to go virtual, the 13th BAT will be the biggest ever. In addition to open studios at American Fabrics, The Knowlton, The NEST, and the brand new METRO Art Studios, there are several major openings of key Bridgeport cultural organizations: the ribbon-cutting opening of METRO, the move-in to brand newly renovated space over the Bijou by WPKN itself, and a brand-new exhibition space downtown for the Mary & Eliza Freeman Center.

This month, our guests are
● Suzanne Katchmar, executive director of City Lights Gallery and of the Bridgeport Art Trail
 Jane Davila, Executive Director of Metro Art Studios
● Steve di Costanzo, General Manager of WPKN
● Maisa Tisdale, Executive Director of the Mary and Eliza Freeman Center for History & Community
● Cris Dam and Dustin Malstrom, owners of URSA Gallery in Bridgeport’s Arcade,
● Phil Kuchma of Kuchma Corporation.

OCTOBER 2021 Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
This month we celebrate INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S DAY – a transformation of what we have known as Columbus Day – by exploring the histories and living cultures of native tribes in our area. What traditions, stories and practices are still alive? What can we learn from native cultures’ sense of time and of the land? Learn about the work of the Institute for Native American Studies, and about the specific cultural practices of the Schaghticoke and Golden Hill Paugussett Tribal Nations. Hear about the decade-long archeological dig and research on the site of the last battle of The Pequot War in Southport and how cultural institutions can help relate native cultures to the general public today.

Our guests are: Darlene Kascak, a member of the Schaghticoke Nation, and a Storyteller and Educator at the Institute for American Indian Studies, in Washington, CT; Shoran Waupatukuay Piper, Clan Mother and Tribal Leader, of the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribal Nation, and author of the recent book, Red Road; Chelsea Garth, Curator at Fairfield Museum & History Center, and Janet Evelyn, executive director of Norwalk International Cultural Exchange (NICE) and the newly appointed Coastal Fairfield County Folk & Traditional Arts Community Impact Coordinator.


SEPTEMBER 2021 Remaking History – With our Communities
This month we turn to thinking about how the history of our communities is made – and re-made. Our histories are long intricately interwoven tapestries of people coming from many places, settling, making families, starting businesses or working for others, taking part in social and religious groups, shaping the community and creating culture.

But which stories get told, which strands in the tapestry get the focus and who decides?

AUGUST 2021 Fairfield’s Community Theatre: Coming Back to Life
Hear about the century-old history and the GRAND OPENING (Sept 3-5) of the totally new and renovated SHU Community Theatre in downtown Fairfield. Hear Bill Harris, best known for his 16-year tenure as head of programming and production for the A&E television networks, who was brought in as director of the project; Evan Kleban of Kleban Properties, that bought and renovated the building; and Mark Barnhart, Director of Community and Economic Development for the Town of Fairfield who oversaw the whole project and has observed the state of affairs with the Theatre over two decades, stepping in and assisting where he could. Catch this latest “Spotlight” at
JULY 2021 Fairfield County Theatres: Coming Out of COVID
  This month we hear from a wide range of our theatres in Fairfield County as they emerge from 18 months of closure and deep uncertainty about their future. All five of these theaters have survived in quite different ways and are reassessing who they are, who their audiences are and what the future looks like.

Our guests are: Michael Barker, Managing Director of the Westport Country Playhouse; Hugh Hallinan, Executive Director and producer of Downtown Cabaret Theatre, Bridgeport; Stephanie Hazard, Founder and Co-Artistic Director, with Andrea Lynn Green, Co-Artistic Director of the Greenwich Theatre Company; Kristin Huffman, Producing Artistic Director of the New Paradigm Theatre; and Lou Ursone, Executive Director and Producing Artistic Director of Curtain Call, in Stamford.

  We interview the organizers of the Make Music Day programs in the six towns in our region to be hosting  the event this year. Organizers speak about the programs they have drawn up, using amateur and professional musicians within their communities to provide music all around town. Hear how this all works, what some highlights were from the past, and about some of the surprises and new approaches these organizers have up their sleeves this year. Guests are: Marc Alan, Norwalk Arts Commission and Factory Underground; Mark Barnhart, Dir. Economic and Community Development, Town of Fairfield; Kate Cook, Stamford Downtown; Jennifer DiLaura, Ridgefield Arts Council; Colin Healy, Arts Alliance of Stratford; and Suzanne Kachmar, Bridgeport Art Trail.

MAY 2021

Collective Action Against Racism and Inequity

This show spotlights our own “Collective Action Against Racism and Inequity” (CAARI) program, created in response to members’ requests for collective support to take stock and figure out how to respond thoughtfully and effectively to the racial discrimination and inequity in our midst.

Hear five participants in this CAARI community of practice discuss how increased awareness of bias and racism in our organizations, ourselves, and our society, has led to a variety of projects in which these members are mindfully addressing racism and inequities in practical ways. How can arts and culture help change hearts and minds?

Our guests are: John Cusano (Cultural Alliance), Felice Miller Baritz and David Tate (Project Music, Stamford), Kimberly Henrikson (Center for Contemporary Printmaking, Norwalk); Jana Ireijo (artist), and Carey Mack Weber (Fairfield University Art Museum).


APRIL 2021

“This Must Be The Place” – Interview with Chris Frantz

Hear our WPKN interview with Talking Head CHRIS FRANTZ, author of the recent best-seller REMAIN IN LOVE. Now available on our Soundcloud Podcast.  

Chris, along with his wife Tina Weymouth, both members of our Artists Advisory Council, launched Talking Heads in 1974 with former fellow RISD art student David Byrne. In 1981 Chris and Tina created Tom Tom Club as a side project from Talking Heads, as the former group went through its ups and downs. Their first album and their first single “Genius of Love” was a huge international hit, covered and sampled by many groups since.

Based in New York, touring the world, recording in the Bahamas, Chris and Tina then moved to Fairfield in 1985 and have been resident musicians since then. Chris has his own show on WPKN, Tom Tom Club records, (and before COVID) tours and appears at FTC. Chris and Tina founded FTC’s Emerging Artists series and are an integral part of the FTC family.

“Remain in Love” is full of sharp observations of places and people as they toured and traveled the world. What is it like now to be a Fairfield resident and part of the scene right here?

MARCH 2021

What’s New With Public Art in our Cities and Towns?

“What’s New with Public Art in our Cities and Towns?” celebrates the opening of the Bridgeport Public Art Fund  whose mission is to provide resources, guidance, and hands-on support to create new public art trails in Bridgeport. Also hear what’s new on the Public Art front in four other towns. Our guests are: Phil Kuchma, Bridgeport Public Art Fund; Marc Alan, Norwalk Arts Commission; Tatiana Mori, Greenwich Arts Council; Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Westport Arts Advisory Committee; and Lynne Colatrella, Stamford Downtown and Stamford Arts Commission. Hear them discuss the funding of public art, how public and private collaboration is key to bringing new works to our streets and parks and also to maintain them to keep them vibrant. How does public art play a role in creating a sense of place and accelerate economic development in a town?

FEBRUARY 2021 Going Beyond Black History Month
This program welcomes members from a number of our local cultural institutions to find out how they celebrate Black History Month, what it means to them, how especially after the year of Black Lives Matter we can use it to examine more deeply the hidden racism of our society and institutions and how, in celebrating this month of Black history and culture, we also need to move beyond it to recognize the diversity of American culture as deeply as we can across all 12 months of the year.

Hear Lauren Vincent and Marcella Kovac from Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District and its “Colorful Bridgeport” campaign, from Lori Jones (The Quick Center) and Carey Weber (Fairfield University Art Museum) from Fairfield University, Diane Jellerette, Executive Director of the Norwalk Historical Society and Ramin Ganeshram, Executive Director of the Westport Historical Society, Bernicestine Macleod from TEAM Westport, and Beth Huisking and Jenny Nelson from the Westport Country Playhouse describe their Black History Month presentations and the continuing diversity of programming yearlong at all of these institutions.

JANUARY 2021 How 2020 Changed the Face of Arts & Culture Funding
Inspired by a discussion in our November program, which celebrated Federal CARES Act funding for arts and culture organizations, it became apparent that the intertwined crises of 2020 were changing some of the ways funding decisions were made. We decided to devote a Spotlight program to changes that are taking place within funding agencies and to hear from some new funders on the scene and the ways they are distributing funding.

Hear Elizabeth Shapiro, Director of the CT Office of the Arts, and Frank Mitchell, chair of CT Humanities Application Review Committee as they are joined by Jacqueline Coleman, Senior Community Impact Officer for the Hartford Foundation, who put together a working group of artists and arts organizations of color to inform the Foundation’s arts and culture funding; Michael Van Leesten, who has organized a Social Venture Partners’ new Racial Equity Fund for community-based projects with decision-makers based inside those communities; and Abe Hilding-Salorio, with Sustainable CT that funds community projects, using a crowdfunding model.

Hear how the crises of 2020 continue to affect the networking, strategies, and community relationships within traditional funders and how new funding types are emerging to better deal with the inequities of the prevailing systems.

DECEMBER 2020 Keeping Arts & Culture Alive Through COVID-19
Celebrate the largest award ever from the CT Office of the Arts (COA): $9 million of COVID Relief Funds to 154 CT arts organizations, by hearing from Liz Shapiro about how this grant was made possible and how it was designed. Hear from CT Humanities’ Frank Mitchell about the $2+million it is awarding to humanities organizations – and how this crisis has affected how grant making is done. Three recipients of the COA award, Michael Barker (Westport Country Playhouse), Lawrence Caso (The Klein Auditorium) and Angie Durrell (INTEMPO), will talk about their struggles and successes, and how this grant is helping stave off disaster for them. Hear too from Kathy Maher (Barnum Museum) and Jason Patlis (Maritime Aquarium), two other kinds of organizations not eligible for this grant, on how they are holding together and what the chances of survival though the summer are for them. And hear Senator Tony Hwang make the point that such a large grant is still only part of a continuing mix of federal and state grants, individual giving and foundation philanthropy necessary to keep the arts and culture industry alive through 2022.

NOVEMBER 2020 The Arts As Policy
Following up on the Candidates Forum held October 14, in which we heard from six candidates about their support for the arts and culture, Kathy Maher, Executive Director of The Barnum Museum, and Lou Ursone, Executive Director of Curtain Call, will join David Green in deepening some of the questions we asked during the Candidates Forum – but to those who won their Legislative seats. What specifically will these legislators now do for the arts and culture, how can they include our concerns in policy development, and most important: how can we help them help us?


 The New NEST Arts Factory

  The NEST Arts Factory, one of the oldest artists spaces in Bridgeport – founded in 1996 and nearing its 25th Anniversary – is moving into new, bigger space with more than 40 artist studios. Hear artist and Managing Director Jane Dávila and two of the NEST’s current artists, visual artist Rick Shaefer and singer, songwriter John Torres (of Color Fields) speak about the impact of this new beginning.

SEPTEMBER 2020 Great Discoveries from Going Virtual
In Great Discoveries from Going Virtual, hear the stories of artists, teachers, producers, performers, radio hosts and more, sharing the silver linings, the great discoveries, they have discovered when they have transferred what they do to the online world, or have invented new ways of performing, teaching and collaborating online, necessitated or inspired by the technology they need to use to survive.

Hear from Miggs Burroughs, Alicia Cob, Holly Danger, Joseph Dermody, Mark Hannon, Nadia Martinez, Sooo-z Mastropietro, Shanna Melton, Paige Miglio, Adelka Polak, Rob Silvan, and Lou Ursone.

AUGUST 2020  Beechwood Arts: AMPLIFY Festival of Black Art & Artists
Hear Jeanine Esposito and Frederic Chiu, co-founders of Beechwood Arts & Innovation, in Westport, discussing the AMPLIFY Festival, celebrating the art of black artists held in June 2020, and broadcast on Facebook Live.

The goal was to support black artists and the black community by giving them control of the narrative to AMPLIFY their artistic voices. Black visual artists and performers from the creative community were invited to collaboratively create and share their voices through the lens of the arts.

Hear what led Beechwood to create the festival, what it achieved and what the plans are to build on the June 2020 series of events in the future.

JULY 2020 Black Women Artists Matter
Our July 2020 edition of Spotlight introduces you to three black women artists who are members of the Cultural Alliance: painters Tara Blackwell and Alicia Cobb, and poet and painter Shanna Melton.

In this time of heightened awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, we present the voices and stories of three black women artists speaking about their art,  their lives and their thoughts about the present moment. All three took part in Beechwood Arts & Innovation‘s AMPLIFY program, the subject of our August SPOTLIGHT.

JUNE 2020 The Music Must Go On!  Make Music Day – Fairfield County 2020
This month, on Monday June 8 at 12pm join us to hear the representatives of five towns that are producing Make Music Day 2020, part of the worldwide celebration of music on the first day of summer, June 21. 

Join Kate Cook, with Stamford Downtown, Jennifer DiLaura, Ridgefield Arts Council, Colin Healy, Coastal Arts Guild, Stratford, Suzanne Kachmar Bridgeport Art Trail, and Linda Kavanagh, of Norwalk Now to hear what they have planned and why they believe keeping Make Music Day going is especially important this year.


MAY 2020 Reopening & Reimagining: Strategies for the Future
In light of the increasing flurry of discussions about reopening cultural institutions as we believe we are beginning to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, hear this panel discussion among leaders of five Fairfield County institutions about their thoughts and plans for re-opening and re-imagining their operations after the COVID-19 restrictions and fears.

Join Laurence Caso, Executive Director of The Klein, Bridgeport, Russell Jones, President and CEO, The Stamford Symphony, Jason Patlis, President & CEO, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Sandra Pelletier, owner, The Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, and Robert Wolterstorff, The Susan E. Lynch Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Bruce Museum. What are their thoughts and plans for phased reopening? How has fundraising planning adapted to the current and imagined future scenarios? How has digital programming affecting their ideas about future programming?


APRIL 2020 Meet Ruth Mannes
Meet Ruth Mannes, the new Executive Director of MoCA Westport (formerly the Westport Arts Center) on our Monday, April 13th edition of  Spotlight on Arts & Culture. With its roots in the Westport Artists group that formed in 1947, the Westport Arts Center was born 50 years ago in 1969 as The Westport-Weston Arts Council. After several temporary homes it landed in 2002 at Riverside Avenue across the Saugatuck River from the Westport Library. After 17 years in that location, it re-grouped as MoCA Westport and moved into the handsomely renovated former TV studio of Martha Stewart just across the Norwalk border at 19 Newtown Turnpike, close to The Merritt Parkway. Ruth Mannes is a long-time Westport resident, very active with Westport schools on the PTA executive board, and with her husband, a very active art collector in her own right. Hear her ambitions for this new institution that, as it has moved out of downtown Westport, seeks to re-connect with Westport artists, other Westport institutions and the wider community.

MARCH 2020 “Colorful Bridgeport & Public Art”
On our March SPOTLIGHT podcast, hear Jane Dávila, Managing Director of the Nest Arts Factory, Suzanne Kachmar, Executive Director of the Bridgeport Art Trail and City Lights Gallery and Lauren Coakley Vincent, President and CEO of Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District discuss the new “Colorful Bridgeport” campaign to bring color and life to downtown Bridgeport through the arts, more public art and public art activities. There’s a real push to bring the arts into the streets, and into storefronts. Hear the genesis of this campaign, and what’s in store for Bridgeport from a team of dedicated artists, nonprofits and entrepreneurs.

FEBRUARY 2020 The Banks, The Arts & The Community
Our February 2020 SPOTLIGHT explored “Banks, Arts & Culture and Community” – looking at the changing role of banks in supporting the arts, culture and community development. As banking becomes more an online activity where do banks fit into the local community? How different are they than other businesses when the arts look for support and for partners? We meet representatives of three different banks: Dan Berta, President, Fairfield County Bank; Christine Chivily, Executive Vice President/Chief Risk & Credit Officer, Bankwell Financial Group; and William Tommins, Market Executive-Commercial Banking, Southern New England at Bank of America Merrill Lynch., to hear what’s new in their support of the communities where they are placed. What are some great examples of the projects they support? How should you approach your local bank to partner in a project or to help your organizations?

JANUARY 2020 Robert Wolterstorff: Leading “The New Bruce”
Meet Robert Wolterstorff, the recently appointed Susan E. Lynch Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Greenwich’s Bruce Museum. He was appointed in June 2019, just as this venerable art and science museum began its $60 million complete overhaul that will more than double its floorspace, adding education and community spaces and significantly expanding its space for permanent and temporary installations of art, science, and natural history exhibitions.

Wolterstorff is an art and architectural historian (MA from Williams, PhD from Princeton) with a passion for both Victorian design and contemporary art. He has a history of successful turnarounds of institutions – most notably the Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine, (1998-2010) and Bennington Museum, Vermont (2012-2019), where he radically increased attendance through groundbreaking exhibitions (Milton Avery’s Vermont, Grandma Moses: American Modern) and created the Bennington Modernism Gallery to highlight the achievements of the circle of now-famous abstract painters and sculptors associated with Bennington in the 1960s: Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, David Smith, Tony Smith, and Sir Anthony Caro. Hear about his career trajectory and what he will bring to “The New Bruce.”

DECEMBER 2019 The “Nutcracker” Phenomenon
This time of year our dance companies and dance schools explode with their many various productions of, arguably, the most popular ballet anywhere. What’s so special about this ballet? Does it pull in audiences who normally wouldn’t attend ballet? Do these performances help build the audience for dance? Hear Taylor Millbauer, Executive Director of The Academy of The New England Ballet CompanyJennifer Moscatello, Marketing Manager of Connecticut BalletTed Thomas, Artistic Director of New England Academy of Dance and New England Dance Theater, and Moira Murphy Wright, Artistic Director, Connecticut Dance School



 NOVEMBER 2019 Where Does the Bridgeport Art Trail Lead
The Bridgeport Art Trail is the biggest celebration of the arts in Fairfield County, stretching over four days, and attracting more than 4,000 visitors to over 40 venues in every neighborhood of the city. The 11th edition of the BAT happened Nov. 9-12.  Hear Susanne Kachmar (City Lights Gallery), creator of the Art Trail, and her partners Jane Davila (NEST Arts Factory); Courtney George (Cohen & Wolf); Shiran Nicholson, (Nicholson Events and The Knowlton); and Lauren Coakley Vincent (Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District) discuss how it went, what the highpoint were, what was new, what the impact of the Arts Trail is on the City of Bridgeport and its arts, cultural, community and economic life – and and how this will continue to evolve with new partners, new program ideas and new prospects.


Accessibility & Inclusion: Lessons For Us All from The Americans with Disabilities Act

This broadcast brought both a broad and in-depth discussion about Accessibility & Inclusion in the Arts – specifically rooted in issues around arts venues and arts organizations making accommodations for people with disabilities. The discussion is an outgrowth of the ADA Principles and Practice Workshop conducted by Elanah Sherman for the CT Office of the Arts. The discussion brought together Elanah, Tamara Dimitri from the Office of the Arts and the three guests on the workshop describing their experiences and recommendations as people with disabilities working with arts organizations: Alan Gunzburg, Amy Oestreicher and Jamie Petrone.



SEPTEMBER 2019 The Quick Center’s Peter van Heerden
Our September show brought the director of Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the ArtsPeter van Heerden, into the spotlight. Peter, approaching his fifth anniversary leading the region’s flagship performing arts center, introduces himself and the relevance of his own performance background in developing a dynamic and catalytic  center that is continually shaking things up. From multi-level and multi-disciplinary engagement with students, faculty and departments at the University, to exciting programs working with local schoolchildren in their classrooms and in workshops at the Quick, Peter explains how the arts have a responsibility to unsettle and change the way we think.
AUGUST 2019 Who Funds Arts & Culture? A Window into Local Philanthropy
In “Who Funds Arts & Culture? A Window into Local Philanthropy,” we spoke with Lauren Patterson, Executive Director of the New Canaan Community Foundation, and Kelly O’Donnell, with the law firm of Pullman & Comley, about how both organizations fund arts and culture in their communities across Connecticut. What issues factor into their decisions about what to fund and what processes do they use to come to decisions? Hear their fascinating ideas about what makes a community and how both funders encourage collaboration by their grantees and collaborate themselves with other funders to produce exponential results.

JULY 2019

Connecticut Theatre Women – Leaning In

In “Connecticut Theatre Women – Leaning In” host David Green speaks with Kristin Huffman, New Paradigm Theatre, Claire KellyShakespeare on the Sound, and Marie Reynolds, League of Professional Theatre Women – CT Chapter. These three women leaders in Connecticut Theatre talk about their own careers and the issues they have had to face. What’s changing these days in Connecticut Theatre for women? Where are women finding jobs – as artistic directors, managing directors, executive directors? What’s shifting and what should you be looking out for?

JUNE 2019

Celebrating Make Music Day, June 21, 2019

June 21, the summer solstice, was Make Music Day – celebrated the world over with musicians, amateur and professional, pouring into the streets, parks, amphitheaters, stoops, porches and more to celebrate the power of music to communicate – and have fun. In our region alone, eight towns celebrated Make Music Day, and we interviewed 7 of the 8 organizers: Suzanne Kachmar, Bridgeport; Lou Heumann, Fairfield; Tatiana Mori, Greenwich; Paige Miglio, Milford; Jennifer DiLaura, Ridgefield; Annette Einhorn, Stamford; and Colin Healey, Stratford. All engaged in a lively discussion about why they were doing this and what the highlights promised to be. Listen to the conversation (count how many pianos you hear about) and enjoy the music clips the guests brought with them.



MAY 2019 New Leadership for the Aldrich Museum
In this interview David Green introduces  the new, dynamic young leader of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Executive Director Cybele Maylone. Find out her background, her strong relationships built up with artists at apexart, The New Museum and UrbanGlass in New York, discover some of her core beliefs, and where The Aldrich might be heading under her new leadership.



APRIL  2019 Connecting Our Towns: How Countywide Arts Advocates Support Bridgeport’s Young People
Fairfield County ranks first in income disparity among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. In a state with no county government to ameliorate wide disparities, how do the wealthier towns help out the more troubled? There are many arts organizations based in Bridgeport that have residents of other towns on their Boards. How are other towns supporting Bridgeport – and in particular its young people? In this program, hear from three of many organizations who do this (Neighborhood Studios, Connect-Us, and K.E.Y.S.) and one place where many of them gather (The Klein).



MARCH  2019 Aim Higher Together Bridgeport, Using the Arts to Help End Gun Violence.
The March Spotlight presents a campaign to use the arts to help end gun violence in Bridgeport and Fairfield County: AIM HIGHER TOGETHER BRIDGEPORT. This collaborative initiative (inspired by a national campaign led by TOMS), uses art and murals to share a message of hope, education and activism, led by youth, to save lives and promote gun safety. Partner organizations include: BLENDS gallery, Bridgeport DSSD, Bridgeport Generation Now, City Lights Gallery, Neighborhood Studios, SOURCE coffee, The Gale Heilmann Family, and UnLoad Foundation. Coming up is a celebration and fundraiser at Bridgeport’s Blends Gallery Thurs March 28, 5:30-9pm.
FEBRUARY  2019  The Future of History
We talked with three new directors of very established historical societies: Ramin Ganeshram (Westport HS), Nancy Geary (New Canaan HS) and Margaret McIntire (Darien HS). How are they bringing change to established ways of doing things? How can an historical society bring history alive to the young members of their communities? Hear what these new directors have to say about the challenges and their plans for their historical societies and their communities.
JANUARY  2019 Michael Barker: Theatre & Community
Michael Barker joined Westport Country Playhouse in September 2016 from Mill Valley, CA, where he was the managing director of Marin Theatre Company. Previously, Barker was general manager of Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, CA, and managing director for the Los Angeles classical theater ensemble The Antaeus Company. Before moving to California, Barker was associate managing director at Yale Repertory Theatre and managing director of Yale Summer Cabaret, where he produced the first annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays. He was Seattle Repertory Theatre’s 2008 Managing Director Fellow. Barker holds an MFA in theater management from Yale School of Drama and an MBA from Yale School of Management. At Yale, he was the recipient of the Daniel and Helene Sheehan Scholarship for theater management and a Kosciusko Scholarship for outstanding students of Polish descent. He currently serves as vice president of the board of the Yale School of Management Alumni Association. Prior to graduate school, he was associate director of marketing for Court Theatre in Chicago, and also worked with Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Sansculottes Theater Company, and The Playground Theater.
DECEMBER  2018  Arts Councils: What Good Do They Do?
 A conversation with the leaders of three local arts agencies about what they and how they approach their issues differently:

Nancy Diamond- Westport Arts Advisory Committee
John Varamo- Stamford Arts Commission
Susan Walkerstein- Norwalk Arts Commission



Until the entire list of shows is loaded, you can see the programs list on Spotlight’s SoundCloud page here.

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