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.

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?

You will hear 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.

We will learn 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.

We also meet the newly appointed Coastal Fairfield County Folk & Traditional Arts Community Impact Coordinator and will hear how the work of this new appointment will help strengthen the increasingly more inclusive network of CT cultural heritage.

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 NICE (Norwalk International Cultural Exchange) Festival and the newly appointed Coastal Fairfield County Folk & Traditional Arts Community Impact Coordinator.

SEPTEMBER 2021 Re-Making 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?

Our guests are two museum directors and a co-founder of an Indigenous educational initiative: Ramin Ganeshram is executive director of the Westport Museum for History and Culture, Diane Jellerette is executive director of the Norwalk Historical Society and Museum, and endawnis Spears is a co-founder of the Akomawt Educational Initiative, dedicated to furthering knowledge of Native America in schools, museums and other public spaces.


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 https://bit.ly/SpotlightSHUTheatre

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.

JUNE 2021


  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.


The Banks, The Arts & The Community

Our February 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?

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.”

The “Nutcracker” Phenomenon

In December we explored 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


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, 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.


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.


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.

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

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