Until 2012, Southeastern Connecticut was the only region in the state without a Designated Regional Service Organization (DRSO) supporting the CT Office of the Arts in the Department of Economic and Community Development to organize and advocate for the creative sector.

In the fall of 2012 a group of more than 50 regional business, arts, tourism, government, and education leaders conducted cultural assessments in both the greater New London and greater Norwich areas.  These studies identified the region’s assets and potential, and clearly demonstrated the need for strategic collaboration. Based on the assessments, a group of leaders volunteered to serve as a Transition Team to begin the behind-the-scenes infrastructure work to build the coalition.  The Team accomplished several key tasks, including arranging initial fiscal agency with the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut while filing for its own nonprofit status, creating a temporary website, beginning to build a cultural sector database, and receiving official state designation as a DRSO.

In November of 2013, a founding Board of Directors was established. An executive director was hired in January of 2014.  In the fall of 2019, the Cultural Coalition began developing a new strategic plan for 2020-2025, which was adopted in early 2020.

In January 2021, the Cultural Coalition became the Designated Regional Service Organization for the Northeastern region of CT, and now serves 42 towns in eastern CT.

As the voice of the arts and cultural sector, the Cultural Coalition provides core services to connect, strengthen, and advocate for the creative community. The Coalition serves as the liaison between the arts and cultural sector and leadership entities, including municipal, community, business, education, tribal, military, health & wellness, and tourism sectors. The Coalition plays an innovative role fostering partnerships among arts, cultural and creative assets and other regional initiatives seeking to strengthen a sense of place, and attract and retain businesses, residents and visitors.

Arts and culture can create more vibrant, healthy and equitable communities. The Cultural Coalition seeks to authentically represent the region we serve, recognizes the breadth and depth of cultural expression, and ensure that all community members have access to arts and cultural activities. The Cultural Coalition will be a model for improving diversity, equity and inclusion, and provide the tools, resources and motivation to inspire change in our sector and region.

Reflecting the connection between a strong regional economy and a strong, united arts and cultural sector, the Cultural Coalition benefits from annual funding received from the Office of the Arts within Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and works alongside the state’s other seven regional organizations committed to providing sector leadership that advances the creative economy statewide.

The Cultural Coalition serves core constituencies:
• Arts and cultural organizations, entities and individuals that make up the creative community,
• Forty-two (42) Municipalities in eastern CT; to benefit Southeastern CT’s  and Northeastern CT’s residents, employees and visitors.

The Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with an office in Norwich governed by a board of directors comprising cultural, community, and business leadership.