By Gillian Burdett

Politics come and go, but art remains the enduring expression of who we are. Artistic communities thrive throughout Connecticut, strengthening local economies and uniting people of diverse backgrounds. Fine and performance arts elevate and inspire. They speak our truth and our beauty, which Keats famously wrote, “is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.” Take a break from the work-a-day world and visit one of these venues to view your world from a new perspective and kindle your own creativity.

The Buttonwood Tree
605 Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4957

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts and Cultural Center has been serving as a hub for the arts in Middletown’s vibrant North End for nearly 30 years.  Enjoy live performances by local musicians, listen to poetry and book readings, participate in an open mic night or join a drum circle. The art gallery exhibits the exciting works of local artists. The Buttonwood Tree is more than a performance venue; it is a community center where people gather to learn and enjoy.

Wesleyan Potters
350 South Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-5925

Wesleyan Potters is best known for offering a broad selection of art and craft classes, but it is also a great place to shop. In addition to beautifully crafted ceramics, you’ll find fiber goods, jewelry and metalwork.  The shop curates fine crafts produced by members and artists from across the country. The selection changes regularly.  Don’t miss the annual sale each December when more than 200 artists exhibit and sell their wares in time for holiday shopping.

Real Art Ways
56 Arbor St.
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 232-1006

A renovated Arbor Street warehouse houses the theatre, art gallery and lounge of Real Art Ways (RAW). This unique collaborative of visual and performing artists supports diversity and innovation in the arts. The RAW cinema screens indie movies seven days a week, giving Hartford-area residents and visitors the opportunity to see talked-about films that the big box offices won’t carry. Mark your calendar for the next Creative Cocktail Hour, a gathering of musicians and artists held the third Thursday of each month.

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Goodspeed Musicals
Goodspeed Opera House
6 Main St.
East Haddam, CT 06423

Between April and December each year, this Tony Award-winning company celebrates the American musical with the production of new works and classic revivals of this art form. Elements of each musical, including set building and costume design, are done on the banks of the Connecticut River at the Goodspeed Campus making this a truly local endeavor. Nationally recognized and emerging talent makes up the cast members, composers, choreographers and technicians of Goodspeed’s productions. Shows are performed in the Historic East Haddam Opera House and at the Terris Theatre in Chester.

Hartbeat Ensemble
360 Farmington Ave.
Hartford, CT 06105

Hartbeat is more than a theatre company. The ensemble has a social mission, which it pursues by provoking thought, and often discomfort, with works intended to shake up the status quo. By dramatizing disparate views of our society from multiple vantage points, Heatbeat merges the voices of everyday people in a resounding “beat of Hartford,” a common heartbeat. The company also offers youth programs.

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