Cultural centers

Julie Smith, former staff member of Hamden, will lead the best video film and cultural center

HAMDEN – A former member of town hall staff has taken over the reins of the best video film and cultural centre.

Julie Smith, the organization’s new executive director, served in various municipal positions under former mayor Curt Balzano Leng, most recently as Hamden’s community development officer.

In this role, she oversaw operations at the Keefe Community Center.

Smith will now oversee one of the state’s last remaining video libraries. An iconic Hamden institution, Best Video features 40,000 film titles, an on-site cafe and live musical performances.

Smith replaces Hank Hoffman, who announced his retirement in January. He started working at Best Video as a clerk in the 1990s, becoming its program director in 2015 and executive director in 2019.

Hoffman saw the store through many phases of evolution. He was there when he moved from VHS tapes to DVDs and when he adopted a non-profit business model.

He also helped turn Best Video into a concert hall.

Now Smith will take the organization into its next chapter.

It will seek to “(transition) Best Video into its next phase of growth as the destination of choice for music and movie lovers across the region,” according to a statement.

“I am delighted to join the Best Video Film and Cultural Center community as Executive Director. My family and I have been members of BVFCC for over two decades and my children grew up here,” Smith said in the statement.

“As a resident of Hamden, I look forward to showcasing the cultural gem that is the finest cultural and video film centre,” she said in the statement. “We are a destination for people from across the region at a time when the need for community and cultural connections has never been greater.”

Prior to leading community development in Hamden, Smith served as City Manager of Arts, Culture and Special Projects and Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

She left late last year following the inauguration of Mayor Lauren Garrett, who decided not to renew the appointments of several department heads.

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