Access to the Arts and Offices Despite Increase of COVID Cases


Tyler Dyer, News Editor

Despite the number of COVID infections increasing again, Hartford is starting to turn a corner with the arts. “In downtown Hartford over the last three or four weeks, it feels like the heart is beating again,” said Smith, whose company owns both Max Downtown and the Trumbull Kitchen.
As workers slowly ease back into the office, The Hartford said that employees would begin coming back to city offices early December. In many cases, employees will still divide their work between home and a corporate office, however. The Bushnell has been regularly holding shows and other events, including performances by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. And The Hartford Stage begins “It’s a Wonderful Life” later this month. Tickets are selling well for “Christmas on the Rocks” at TheaterWorks starting in early December. “We are hearing it and seeing it. It’s awesome,” said David Griggs, CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, which represents businesses in the city.
The city’s attendance to theaters has been down in general, and it’s clear that some audiences are still hesitant, but that may be changing. The Bushnell is the state’s largest arts organization that has had 30 million people witness 20,000 performances. It was forced to close its doors from March 2020 to its official reopening on Sept. 11, 2021, for a commemorative event for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Bushnell has been holding up as it sold a generous amount of tickets for the performances for “Rent” last weekend on both Friday and Saturday performances. The parking lot was completely full due to HSO shows also taking place last weekend. The managing director of Hartford Stage, Cynthia Rider, says audiences for “Ah, Wilderness!” were “so enthusiastic, so excited to be at a live theater event again, to be out with their friends and families. They really enjoy it, and that they feel safe.” Music clubs, including Infinity Hall, are reporting some full-capacity shows.
The mask mandate is gone in the city of Hartford and Connecticut is thankfully one of the highest vaccinated states.” For Hartford, it is a revival held back because many large downtown employers are still operating remotely. But Mayor Luke Bronin says the Insurance City comeback has been building for some time. “Arts, culture, sports, dining,” Bronin said, “a lot of people are hungry for that.”