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Art in Action: Kolton Harris

Inspiring Creativity and Community in Connecticut

Coming from an artistic background, Kolton knew his dreams centered around creativity — but he never expected to make such a meaningful impact on so many people, right in his home state.

Carving a creative a path

Kolton always believed the arts were central to the human experience and found himself liberated by imaginative spaces that allowed him to create, problem-solve, and build meaningful relationships. During a time when he felt out of place and confused about his next steps in life, he took a chance and contacted Writers’ Block InK, a youth-led theater and arts organization for social change.

He hoped he would find community and a sense of greater purpose – but what he found was a gateway to creating in a way that he hadn’t imagined before.

Today, Kolton is a Program Associate at The Connecticut Office of the Arts, which allows him to majorly impact the arts community of Connecticut through the public sector.

Turning vision into action

Kolton’s current role allows him to eat, sleep, and breathe creativity, all while putting his community-centric values first. At the Connecticut Office of the Arts, he aims to inspire a culture of creativity in the state and to make art accessible to everyone —turning his visions into a reality.

In addition to existing programs such as Arts Workforce Initiative and Poetry Out Loud, grants have helped him produce new artistic programming including The Talking Artists, a live podcast recording that helps artists get resources and connectivity.

Kolton’s personal mission? Bring programs to a wider variety of communities across the state where the arts have previously been less accessible or prominent — touching groups from high school students to those who are currently incarcerated.

Seeing the impact

At the first cohort meeting for the Empower Grant, which supports new and emerging arts organizations, the impact of these programs was evident. Cohort members, ranging from age 12 to 70 with different cultural backgrounds, expressed their deep gratitude – some even in tears – for the space to connect and share the arts; this was a clear representation of how the arts can unify people. Through providing access to art, Kolton has seen tremendous individual growth from community members.

Art is the gateway to healing, wholeness, and community connectivity; it helps to break down division and to unify people.

Building up a culture of creativity is achievable here because of the platform Connecticut provides for my work to be seen and voice to be heard.

What’s next?

Kolton believes that Connecticut is an important place to many people; he wants to drive people to the state but also increase state pride amongst residents. So, what’s his plan? To empower Connecticut’s most innovative and creative voices, through projects, programs, and showcases to put the state on the map as a hub for some of the greatest art the world has ever seen. 

Each person has the responsibility to determine their own brand of genius and what they bring to the table — then nurture it.

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