Dollie McLean
Founding Executive Director

New State-of-the-Art Facility designed by Tai Soo Kim at 1200 Albany Avenue

The Atrium

Susan A. Rottner, former President, Bank of America-Connecticut, now President of the Wadsworth Atheneum Board of Directors.
The Artists Collective was one of the first organizations in Connecticut to receive the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award.

Back stage at the Artists Collective's 35th Anniversary Gala—Tribute to Jackie McLean. Alumnus, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, Dr. Billy Taylor, Founding Executive Director, Dollie McLean and event planner, Kristin Ferris of The Ferris Group.

History of Artists Collective

The Artists Collective, Inc. was founded by NEA Jazz Master Awardee Jackie McLean, the internationally acclaimed alto saxophonist, composer and educator, with his wife Dollie McLean.

The Artists Collective started its first classes in borrowed spaces throughout the city. In 1975 through the courtesy of the city of Hartford, a beautiful three story circa 1920's school house became the Collective's new home. However, special events which included student showcases, major jazz and gospel concerts, theatrical and dance productions, and visual arts exhibits, were presented in rented venues throughout Greater Hartford.

The Artists Collective has taken a major step forward with the completion of its new facility expressly designed to meet the needs of the Collective’s programs. The new building is a key component of the economic development of the City of Hartford and the North Hartford Albany Avenue corridor.

As an interdisciplinary arts and cultural institution serving the Greater Hartford region, it is the only multi-arts and cultural organization of its kind in Connecticut which emphasizes the cultural and artistic contributions of the African Diaspora.

The Collective exposes students and the community at large to often overlooked artists of the past and present. Today, the Collective continues to offer the highest quality training in the performing arts--dance, theater, music, and visual arts.

In addition, “Skills for Living” and other educational workshops are an integral component of the Rite of Passage-Yaboo Ceremony, the Summer Youth Employment Training Program and a special program which serves children with Sickle Cell Anemia. Since its inception the Artists Collective has trained thousands in all arts disciplines and has touched their lives and those of their families. Through its ongoing presentation of great artists of the African Diaspora, the Collective provides positive adult role models for a new generation of artists.

Jazz greats, new emerging musicians, nationally recognized dance and theater companies, and gospel artists, as well as visual arts exhibits and lectures by nationally recognized historians comprise the Collective’s special events program.

Awards and Recognition

  • Recipient of the 2010 National Arts & Humanities Youth Award, An initiative of the President's Committee on Arts & Humanities
  • Cited by Harvard University’s Project Co-Arts as one of six exemplary community art centers in the nation included in the Safe Haven Report published by Harvard University.
  • A recipient of the prestigious State of Connecticut Arts Award for service and excellence in the arts.
  • Selected as one of twenty national jazz network sites to receive a special grant through the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund for the support of “Jazz” programs.
  • Listed in the Connecticut 1996 State Register and Manual where Artists Collective founders Dollie McLean and Jackie McLean were honored for a lifetime of achievement.
  • Selected as one of 12 organizations nationwide to participate in JazzNet, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Non-Profit Finance Fund to support jazz programming.
  • Essence Magazine – for excellence in serving the youth of Hartford.
  • Visited by President Clinton, who on November 4, 1999, addressed local business and community leaders about private/public cooperation in economic development and highlighted the Artists Collective’s new facility as a prime example of urban development.
  • Liberty Bell award from the Hartford Country Bar Association for commitment to promoting the arts and culture to the youth of Hartford county.
  • 2003 Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Sojourner Truth Social Activism Award: Founding Executive Director - Dollie McLean
  • 2003 Department of Children and Families Award for Dedicated Service to Connecticut's Children and Families
  • 2003 Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame Inductee: Founding Executive Director - Dollie McLean
  • 2004 Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence - Neighborhood Builder Award
  • 2004 Leadership Greater Hartford Polaris Award for Arts & Culture, Jackie McLean & Dollie McLean
  • 2004 Urban League Community Service Award, Dollie McLean
  • 2004 Neighborhood Legends Award - Blue Hills Neighborhood Organizations Jackie McLean & Dollie McLean
  • 2005 Boy Scouts of America - Whitney M. Young Award Jackie McLean & Dollie McLean
  • 2006, National Association of Negro Business Women’s Club, Meritorious Service Award, Associate Director, Cheryl Smith
  • 2006, Jazz Journalists Association- “A” Team Award for Advocacy, Dollie McLean
  • 2006, Women Organizing, Mobilizing and Building (WOMB)-Destiny Encouragement Award, Dollie McLean
  • 2007, Jazz House Kids-Jazz Legacy Award, Jackie McLean
  • 2007, University of Hartford- Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Dollie McLean
  • 2007, University of Hartford-Honorary Doctorate of Music, Jackie McLean (posthumous)



site design by Planet Bret