This Is Our Hartford: Jillian Foley and Stephan Cusano
Meet The Dance Collective Artistic Director Jillian Foley and Parkville Sounds Founder Stephan Cusano. In August 2019, the two joined forces to create a space at 30 Arbor Street in Hartford for local and visiting artists, musicians, and dancers.
MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price toured the new space and asked Jillian and Stephan to partake in a This Is My Hartford type interview—with their love of Hartford and commitment to telling the story of Hartford, of course they obliged.
NAN PRICE: Why create a space for artists here in Hartford?
JILLIAN FOLEY: There’s a niche market for what we’re doing—there are tons of artists in the area. So many creative things are happening in Hartford. We wanted to contribute to that energy and facilitate more of it by creating events and collaborating with more artists of all types.
STEPHEN CUSANO: Through my experience attending the University of Hartford Hartt School, I met a lot of incredible people who live or work here in the Hartford Region and make their living as musicians or artists. We wanted to be able to aid that scene and help more musicians and artists realize that option exists.
NAN: What makes Hartford unique?
JILLIAN: I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity in Hartford that feels less obtainable in a larger city.
STEPHEN: One thing that’s unique is Hartford’s history. It resonates even in this building. You can feel those creative vibes from all the things that were made here before.
I’ve always been really inspired by these massive buildings. I think they’re really cool. They’re so quirky and unique. There’s a type of comradery for the people who live and work in those buildings, too. They have a sense of pride.
NAN: How does this new space add to the unique qualities of Hartford?
JILLIAN: This type of space didn’t really exist before. As far as event space, there are opportunities in Hartford, but a dance-specific space for adults did not exist. And a music studio specifically for rehearsals also didn’t exist. So, this space is definitely filling a void.
We knew a ton of artsy people before we created this space. Then, we realized there were way more than we even thought. With this new space, we’re helping build on the artistic community in Hartford. And, and it’s been very clear that artists want and need it.
STEPHEN: Part of the unique quality of the space is that it’s not just for Hartford people, it also draws people from outside the state. Many of my clients aren’t from Hartford or Connecticut at all. A lot of them are coming from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
JILLIAN: And, when they come from outside of Hartford, they suddenly realize: Oh wow, this is in Hartford? This place has a vibe.
They want to know where to go for coffee and we send them up the street to Story and Soil. Or they want to grab a beer, so we send them to Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt. They love seeing the activity in Hartford and visiting local places.
NAN: I like that you’re helping put Hartford on the map and contributing to an activity hub.
STEPHEN: Absolutely. We had some band members from out West that were planning their 60th high school reunion in Hartford. They found Parkville Sounds online and they were so excited. They rented the studio out for two days.
JILLIAN: That also happened with someone’s 10-year anniversary. They told us: I wish this space existed years ago.
NAN: That must be very validating to know you’re filling a need.
NAN: Where do you see the future for Hartford?
STEPHEN: I see more growth. I feel like Park Street is developing more by the day. We’re excited for the opening of Parkville Market, too. We’ve seen more people—and more creatives—moving into the area. People are discovering how cool it is and taking a liking to it.
JILLIAN: People who visit us here at Arbor Street always compare it to a mini Brooklyn. Hartford has that urban feel, but it’s also super creative and people definitely see the growth happening, too, which is awesome.
Learn more about The Dance Collective
READ: Hartford-Based Dance Collective Empowers Creative Women
www.thedancecollective.org | Facebook | Instagram
Learn more about Parkville Sounds
READ: Parkville Sounds Provides a Creative Space for Musicians
www.parkvillesounds.com | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube