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February 20, 2023 / 2023 Power 50

2023 Power 50: 26. Rev. Shelley Best

PHOTOS | KEITH CLAYTOR Rev. Dr. Shelley Best leads the Greater Hartford Arts Council.

Rev. Shelley Best was named CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council last year and one of her top priorities is to transform the arts and culture industry to better represent the region’s rich diversity.

That would attract new artists, tap into a new customer base and let those who might have been looking in from the outside feel they too can be part of Greater Hartford’s thriving arts scene, Best told the Hartford Business Journal in May.

“The growing edge for arts organizations is definitely in the area of diversity and inclusion,” said Best, who as CEO leads a council that provides financial and organizational aid to about 150 arts organizations in 34 Greater Hartford municipalities.

Best, who has been active in the diversity, equity and inclusion arena for decades, is the former executive director of the Conference of Churches, a Hartford-based consortium of faith-based organizations. 

She was also the founder of the 224 EcoSpace, a Hartford-based arts, health and wellness center that provides various services, including coworking space.

Best said her overall vision for the arts council is to “work together to foster relationships; bring people together; and increase the vitality for the arts in this region.”

Fundraising is a vital part of Best’s job and it’s one reason she was picked from a pool of dozens of applicants.

Best, the daughter of a concert pianist, said she’s always had an interest in the arts but became “fascinated” with the Hartford arts scene and what it could become while attending a Hartford Foundation for Public Giving advisory committee — called “Artists of Color Unite” — that aims to create a long-term support structure for minority artists.

Find out who else is in the 2023 Power 50.

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