The Artists Collective is a cultural institution serving the Greater Hartford region, providing year-round professional training in dance, music, drama, visual and martial arts emphasizing the arts and culture of the African Diaspora. The mission of the Artists Collective is to preserve and perpetuate the arts and culture of the African Diaspora by providing training in the performing and visual arts and by sponsoring special events. It is also the mission of the Collective to develop professional artists, to foster positive feelings of self-identity among peoples of the African Diaspora, and to raise public consciousness about the value of this culture. The Collective was established in 1970 by the internationally acclaimed alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and his wife Dollie McLean, along with local artists Cheryl Smith, Ionis Martin, and Paul Brown. The vision of the founders was to create a safe haven for at-risk youth to offer alternatives to the violence of the streets, teen-age pregnancy, gangs, drugs and alcohol abuse. The Collective serves a predominately low income black, Caribbean and Latino constituency. For many, it is their only exposure to the arts. The Collective is unique in that its programs represent a non-traditional approach to arts education because they also include social skills training, school success and community responsibility. Individual and group workshops expose children to positive role models, stimulate youth to think critically, develop self-esteem, self-awareness, and pride in ones cultural identity. The Artists Collective serves over 1,200 students per year in its training programs. For more information about programs, please visit Programs.