September 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

After the long, bright sunlit days of summer brimming with activity, I find autumn – with its earlier sunsets and longer shadows – to be an ideal time for thoughtful introspection.

There’s been plenty to reflect upon over the last six months. On the spring equinox, I wrote to confirm that Hill-Stead would keep its grounds open to the public despite the widespread closures due to the coronavirus. Our 152-acre grounds became much more than a place of refuge when we brought live experiences of art back into people’s lives! To coincide with the summer solstice, we launched From the Porch, an inaugural initiative, radiating with beauty and creativity as we extended our hand to a diverse and dynamic group of partners across the performing arts sphere.

Now the autumnal equinox—equal parts night & day, and a favorite season of artists and poets—reminds us to embrace change while finding balance in our own lives. On this crisp morning marking the red, orange, yellow, gold, and rust tones of autumn’s palette, I must admit that I don’t have anything new to share beyond the exciting coverage for the series highlighted on our News Room.

Instead, I would like to thank you for coming out to enjoy the summer’s performances, for confirming our instincts that art does make a difference; and for telling us, in the sweetest of ways, how much you appreciate what we’ve managed to create. My personal favorite was the visitor who marched out of the darkness after the Real Art Ways film screening to say that we “made her feel alive again.”

We couldn’t be happier that these collective efforts have helped many of you during this incredibly trying time. We, too, feel these difficulties – from grief and restrictions to uncertainty and fear; yet, we’ve done our best to rise above them, taking a deep breath, and tap dancing our little hearts out to stay the new course. What has resulted is a cultural hub with 26 events, 12 collaborators*, over 90 performers, and an audience of nearly 2,000 visitors (and counting, as we’ll carry on with this series for as long as the weather holds!).

Thank you to all those who supported this initiative, from individual donors to corporate sponsors. These events were big on service but not on fundraising, as we insisted on paying the performers fairly and allowing our collaborators to keep their ticket revenue (how could we make money on the backs of other arts organizations suffering as we were?!).

Should you wish to help on this front, please click on the button below. Hill-Stead is an expensive place to run – roughly $4,700 per day – and we bear the responsibility of raising a strapping sum of 90% of the operating expenses every year. Every dollar counts, and every dollar is VERY appreciated.

We wholeheartedly believe the talk about getting through this together, and we are proud of having spent the past thirteen weeks walking that talk – with art, service, and hope as our guides.

Take good care,


Dr. Anna Swinbourne, Executive Director & CEO


* Including Hartford Symphony Orchestra; Hartford Stage; Real Art Ways; Capital Classics; Opera Connecticut; Hartt School Vocal Department; Playhouse on Park; Sonia Plumb Dance Company; Judy Dworin Performance Project; Yale Opera; Sea Tea Comedy Theater, and the Farmington Land Trust.

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