“Hartford has talent!” opens the summer with auditions and workshops and ends with a Bushnell show in Spring 2023 – Hartford Courant | Candle Made Easy

Singers, dancers, musicians, stand-up comedians, actors, jugglers, martial artists and other talents have the opportunity to improve their performance skills and get feedback from the pros at Hartford’s Got Talent!

The upcoming showcases were announced at The Bushnell on Monday morning. The theater will host a special performance in spring 2023, featuring winners from a series of talent showcases this summer and fall.

There have been previous events called “Hartford’s Got Talent!” or “Connecticut’s Got Talent” over the years and a talent show in New London has been running for over a decade. This is a brand new 501c3 non-profit arts organization conceived and originally funded by local philanthropist Bob Patricelli and directed by Hartford’s Got Talent! CEO Joe Young.

Patricelli gave “Hartford’s Got Talent!” the $200,000 needed for the first phase of operations through his Robert & Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation.

Young, a well-known Hartford cartoonist and longtime advocate for the arts, says the project began when he and Patricelli were “having breakfast thinking about what we could do to help the Brother Carl Hardrick Institute [for Violence Prevention]. I said to Bob, ‘All I know is the arts, and I know that the arts can help get kids off the streets and include them in their communities.’”

The organization’s early community partners include the Charter Oak Cultural Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Hartford, and the Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth and Family Center. These organizations will host all auditions and screenings specifically for youth from Hartford and neighboring cities this summer.

In the fall, showcases will be held at locations in Hartford that have yet to be determined, and eligibility will be expanded to all age groups. Young says he expects parishioners in their 70s or 80s to attend.

In the spring of 2023, over a dozen winners from the various showcases will perform a community-themed scripted show in Hartford at The Bushnell, Young says. The show is created based on the talents of the performers. Bushnell’s spring production date has yet to be confirmed.

The Bushnell will not only provide the stage for the climax of “Hartford’s Got Talent!” Spring event offers mentoring and talent development opportunities. Part of this support comes in the form of masterclasses for some of the showcase winners.

Auditions have begun and Young says there is an unpredictable range of talent. Young saw an actor name all 50 states in less than half a minute. Young says visual artists could find a way to try their hand, too, and mentions the possibility of live sand painting activities or something he used to do himself: blindfolded cartoons.

Patricelli says he expects the first year for “Hartford’s Got Talent!” requires $300,000 to $400,000 in funding. His foundation has already provided half of this sum.

“We hope to attract more participants, but I’m willing to invest more if the need arises,” says Patricelli.

Patricelli says the organization has been meeting at least once a week for months. “There’s at least a dozen people working on it full-time, and Joe has the experience.”

He says he’s looking forward to attending some of the showcases and auditions — “I love that” — but laughs when he asks if he could audition himself. “It was my father who had the artistic talent.”

Patricelli, who sits on The Bushnell’s board of directors and was its chairman for six years, says, “We’ve talked about a production like this internally for years, but there’s a tremendous amount of work involved with a talent show.”

It’s important to him that Hartford’s Got Talent! happens every year.

“It’s not just about the talented kids and adults who never got a chance, or building communities,” says Patricelli. “This can also be about branding Hartford. Hartford has a tremendous performing arts infrastructure. Hartford should be the performing arts capital of the Northeast.”

Learn more about Hartford’s Got Talent! go to https://hartfordsgottalent.org/.

Christopher Arnott can be reached at carnott@courant.com.

Leave a Comment