Bridgeport Cultural Arts Center : An Oral History

On July 6, 1970 under the agency leadership of Charles B. Tisdale, the A.B.C.D. Cultural Arts Center (hereafter Art Center) welcomed Bridgeport youth and young adults to explore a variety of creative expression at an office building in downtown Bridgeport. Free of charge and located at 1188 Main Street, the inhabitants of this converted art space were unique tenants among the doctors, lawyers, and dentists who shared the building.

In 1970, the Art Center received a grant from the CT Commission on the Arts that funded a building lease, teachers, and supplies. The Art Center began with Director Ben Johnson, and three instructors. The demand for classes at the center, coupled with increasing requests to provide art instruction on site at Bridgeport schools resulted in additional funding for more teachers and supplies. The instructors brought with them creative gifts in the visual, performing, and literary arts. Everyone was an artist at the Art Center. Only unfinished homework stood between a student and his creation. During the 1970s, the Art Center was one of many free arts programs active in Bridgeport. The Drama Club, Youthbridge, and the Hall Neighborhood House annual Harambee Festival were some of the activities available to city youth.

These oral histories, taken with Arts Center students and instructors, tell the story of the Bridgeport Cultural Arts Center and its legacy.

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Bridgeport Cultural Arts Center