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February 20, 2023 / 2023 Power 50

2023 Power 50: 27. Will Wilkins

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Executive Director Will Wilkins stands in front of Real Art Ways’ 56 Arbor St. home, which it purchased and plans to renovate as part of a major expansion. It has been allocated $9 million from the Community Investment Fund.

For a small city, Hartford has a dynamic arts scene. 

Will Wilkins has been a leader in the sector for decades. He’s the longtime executive director of Real Art Ways, the independent cinema and alternative arts organization that presents and supports contemporary artists and their work.

Wilkins has ambitious plans for his Hartford-based nonprofit organization, which operates an art house cinema and hosts a number of community events, including concerts, lectures and creative cocktail hours.
In December 2021, Real Art Ways paid $4.25 million to purchase its 56 Arbor St. headquarters with plans for a $14-million expansion and renovation of the 83,000-square-foot building.

The project includes increasing the number of cinemas from one to four, and adding educational space for classes and workshops, a theatrical area for performing arts events and a cafe, among other things. 

Wilkins is currently fundraising for the expansion, which is part of a broader effort to make Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood more vibrant. 

Real Art Ways started in 1975 as an alternative arts organization and was formed when a group of artists set up live-work space in downtown Hartford. Today, it features artwork and displays from a wide range of individuals from all walks of life.

Wilkins has led Real Art Ways since 1990.

Find out who else is in the 2023 Power 50.

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