WEST HARTFORD — The West Hartford Town Council appointed nine town residents to the previously inactive West Hartford Commission on the Arts, first established in 1986, at its meeting on Sept. 8, accoding to an email from the town.

The Council appointed Karen Bachman, Chuck Coursey, and Nancy Hoffman to a term ending Dec. 31, 2021; Javier Colon, Susan Rothenberg, and Mirela Panaitisor to a term ending Dec. 31, 2022; and Matthew Bragg, Latanya Farrell, and Carol McCabe to a term ending Sept. 8, 2022. Brief biographies of each commission member can be found below.

The ordinance establishing the West Hartford Commission on the Arts states that the purpose of the commission is “to foster and facilitate participation in, and development and appreciation of artistic and cultural activities within the Town of West Hartford and to encourage the display and presentation of artistic and cultural activities in public, school and community facilities town wide.”

“West Hartford is blessed with so many arts and culture organizations that enrich the lives of residents and enhance the livability of our community,” stated Mayor Shari Cantor. “Arts and culture is also an important driver for the local economy by supporting jobs, attracting employers, and drawing visitors to the Town’s restaurants, retailers, and other businesses.”

Connecticut’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $797.3 million in economic activity in state, supports more than 23,000 jobs annually and returns $72.3 million in revenue to local and state coffers. Data also shows for every dollar spent patronizing arts and culture institutions via tickets and admissions, three additional dollars are spent within the local economy on things like dining, shopping and lodging.

Though the Commission was established in 1986, for unknown reasons, members were not appointed at the time. The Commission has remained in the Town Code of the Town of West Hartford since then.

During COVID, West Hartford’s arts and culture organizations have come together to share ideas and resources on how to help keep their organizations alive during challenging times. These efforts have demonstrated how effective collaborations can benefit not just the arts and culture community, but the entire Town of West Hartford, as well.

“Activating the West Hartford Commission on the Arts, especially during these trying times that have so impacted our cherished arts and culture assets, is a great step forward for the Town in reaffirming our commitment to arts and culture and helping them prosper,” stated Republican leader Lee Gold.

West Hartford Commission on the Arts

Karen Bachman

Bachman has been a resident of West Hartford for 31 years and is a school social worker with 18 years experience in West Hartford.

She is a co-founder and past president of the West Hartford Woman’s Chorale and has been actively involved with the organization throughout the last 15 years.

Bachman has volunteered with the West Hartford Community TV, Be the Media Program, the Third Age Initiative with Leadership Greater Hartford was a community representative with the West Hartford Juvenile Review Board. She has also been a volunteer tutor at Rawson School in Hartford.

Bachman is also a former commissioner and past president of the West Hartford Housing Authority. kbachman2014@gmail.com

Chuck Coursey

Coursey is a Founding Board Member and Board Member Emeritus of Playhouse on Park, Chairperson of the West Hartford Public Library Foundation, Board Member of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, where he also serves as Chairperson of the Chamber's Economic Development Committee, and a past Board Member of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society.

Coursey served three terms on the West Hartford Town Council from 2003-2009, serving as the town’s deputy mayor from 2007-2009.

Coursey is President of Coursey & Company Public Affairs Communications. He has lived in West Hartford since the age of three and is a graduate of Kingswood Oxford School and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. chuck@courseyco.com

Nancy Hoffman

Hoffman has been a resident of West Hartford for 41 years. She worked as a Church Administrator for 21 years at Westminster Presbyterian Church and is a member of the West Hartford Garden Club. She and her husband have three children, 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Hoffman has served the West Hartford Art League as a gallery sitter, chair of the gallery committee, and vice president and President of the Board of Directors, which she was on for nine years. She is also an artist, has taken many classes at the art league, and has exhibited her work in juried shows. Hoffman was also involved in the development of the West Hartford “Art in Public Places” program. nancyjohoff@comcast.net

Javier Colon

Colon is a singer-songwriter, recording artist, and Connecticut native. He grew up in Stratford and studied Music Education at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School Of Music.

After college, Javier performed as lead singer for The Derek Trucks Band, (now known as The Tedeschi Trucks Band) for almost two years before going solo and signing to Capitol Records in 2002 and releasing two albums. In 2011, Colon was crowned the winner of the inaugural season of NBC’s hit show, “The Voice.”

Colon returned to West Hartford with his wife Maureen in 2009.

Colon enjoys sharing his talents with students in the West Hartford Public Schools and was a special guest artist at Hall High Schools Pops N Jazz concert in 2018. He later invited the Hall High School Choraliers to perform with him at his annual holiday concert at Infinity Hall in downtown Hartford. javier.colon@gmail.com

Susan Rothenberg

Rothenberg is a 24-year West Hartford resident and Senior Manager of Contracts Compliance for Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Co.

Rothenberg is a choral singer, who has previously participated in several area choirs and is currently a ten-year member of the West Hartford Women’s Chorale. Rothenberg is also a dedicated supporter of Hartford area museums, music performances and theater. asroth@comcast.net

Mirela Panaitisor

A passionate and creative music teacher with 27 years experience, Panaitisor is the founder and Music Director of The New Old School of Music in West Hartford, a music school which puts the accent on helping every student develop a lifelong love for music making, equally supporting the most ambitious students who aspire to reach Julliard level as well as those who learn music to soothe their soul.

Panaitisor earned her double degree in Violin Performance and Music Education, and has taught and performed violin in Europe, Africa and United States. Notable achievements of her students include: auditions to Juilliard pre-college division, auditions for select groups in West Hartford as well as Hartt School of Music, multiple students and their success stories abroad as well as in CT (Regionals, All State Festival, Inter El, etc.). Since 2017, Panaitisor serves as the Principal 2nd violin for West Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and Assistant Orchestra Director at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford.

Panaitisor is licensed in several early childhood music programs, very dear to her for their tremendous benefits and connections between music, literacy, and brain development. 1mirelapanaitisor@gmail.com

Matthew Bragg

Bragg has worked as a Financial Advisor for UBS Financial Services since Oct. 1996, residing in the Webster Hill neighborhood of West Hartford since Jan. 2003.

Bragg joined Playhouse Theater Group’s (DBA Playhouse on Park) board of directors in Oct. 2010 serving as Treasurer until June 2017 when he began serving as Chairman until June 2019. matthewjbragg@yahoo.com

Latanya Farrell

Farrell is an educator, mother, wife, and performer, who has called West Hartford home for the last 20 years where she lived with her husband of 25 years, and two children. She has been a part of the local community through her performances, youth sports, and the public schools where both her children attended. Farrell is an educator in the Bristol Public School system where she has held multiple roles, beginning as a kindergarten teacher then moving to middle school, eventually landing at the high school level. After 23 years in the classroom, Farrell moved to an administrative role as the assistant principal of Bristol Eastern High School.

Farrell holds an undergraduate degree in Education from Western Connecticut State University, along with Master’s Degrees in Educational Technology and Elementary Education from the University of Hartford. She received her administrative certificate from Sacred Heart University. Farrell has been honored as Educator of The Decade from WCSU in 2003, and the Anchor Award from the University of Hartford in 2016, the institution’s highest honor. She has also been nominated for Bristol Teacher of the Year several times, most recently in 2019.

In addition to her life as an educator, Farrell is an award-winning singer/performer/songwriter, hosting an annual slate of outdoor summer concerts and select events throughout the year. In 2019, Farrell headlined three performances at Playhouse on Park where she packed the house for a musical journey of her life and featured songs from her debut album, “Feelin’ Alright.” latanyafarrell@gmail.com

Carol McCabe

McCabe is a past board member of the Playhouse on Park, serving as Secretary in 2010, Co-President from 2011-2016 and President in 2017. She has been an active volunteer with the West Hartford Mayor’s Charity Ball, serving as cochair in 2011 and administrative chair from 2012-2016.

McCabe has also served on the Max Cares Foundation Board of Directors since 2016 and the Fairfield University College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board since 2017.

McCabe was the Hall High School Choir Parent President from 2006-2009 and Hall High School Theater Department Parent Leader from 2004-2007. ccmccabe@comcast.net

Connecticut Media Group