Culture Builds Florida – and Florida Builds Culture: The Southwest Florida Symphony introduces Brave New Music

Provided by the Southwest Florida Symphony 

image001At 58 years old, the Southwest Florida Symphony is the fourth oldest continuously operating orchestra in the State of Florida. As was intended at its inception, it continues to serve as an “audio museum,” performing great classical repertoire written for full orchestra and chamber ensembles, but as Florida’s demographic evolves, becoming younger and more diverse, the Southwest Florida Symphony has made great strides to acclimate to Florida’s ever-changing cultural landscape.

vlcsnap-2018-03-04-23h28m28s160Beginning in 2016, the symphony began experimenting with crossover concerts that blended classical music with other genres; indie rock, electronica, jazz and Latin. As artistic trust continued to develop between the symphony and its audiences and our community expressed more “classical curiosity,” the symphony became more artistically confident in its ability to expand its horizons and establish a new concert series called Brave New Music. Not exactly Pops, though featuring popular music – and not exactly classical, though always featuring classical repertoire, this series is designed to encourage dedicated, knowledgeable classical music enthusiasts to examine familiar works through a new lens and to remove classical music’s historic intimidation factor for audiences that are not ordinary classical music consumers.

IJS06454Ultimately, this is a way to demonstrate the relevance of classical music to new patrons of the arts and to lead classical audiophiles on a musical journey that begins in familiar territory for them. In addition to the music these audiences experience, these concerts provide educational opportunities through guest artist and conductor Q&A sessions, to meet our orchestral musicians to gain their perspective on these concerts, pre-concert lectures and social gatherings. The best, most beautiful part is that it brings both of those audiences together; spanning generations, socioeconomic and cultural strata, forging relationships among them. It has been said that music is the greatest social network. That’s what we for envision Brave New Music. The Southwest Florida Symphony is honored that Brave New Music can serve as the cornerstone of that network in our community.

DSC06874allBrave New Music initiatives have included jazz arrangements of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition created and performed by Israeli jazz pianist, Yaron Gottfried and Bach – Jazz fusion arrangements created and performed by pianist Matt Herskowitz. Upcoming Brave New Music programs include an evening of Beethoven v. Coldplay, featuring original electronica – classical compositions and visionary arrangements by Maestro Steve Hackman. This concert culminates the Southwest Florida Symphony’s 58th season with a fusion of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 and tunes by British pop band, Coldplay, on Saturday, May 4th. The orchestra commences its 59th season with a screening of the classic thriller film, Psycho, with live orchestral accompaniment on Friday, October 25th and Saturday, October 26th, then closes its 59th season with a celebratory program of tolerance and joy – Symphabulous! A Symphonic Drag Show features nationally known drag performer Chris Weaver. We have every expectation that this innovative programing will enlighten and bring audiences together and will inspire other orchestras to do the same.

To learn more about the Southwest Florida Symphony, visit their website: https://www.swflso.org/.


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Art Talk: Kimberly Hyatt and Cathedral Arts Project

The Cathedral Arts Project is an arts education organization serving the children of Northeast Florida by providing access to instruction in the visual and performing arts. It was founded in 1993 by a small group of individuals from St. John’s Cathedral wanting to provide arts instruction to underserved and at-risk youth. We chatted with CAP’s President and CEO, Rev. Kimberly Hyatt, to learn more about the organization and about her career as an arts leader in Florida.

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): How long have you lived and worked in Florida?

Kimberly: This summer will be 23 years. I came to Florida in 1996 and have been with the Cathedral Arts Project since 2002.

DCA: Tell us about your work with the Cathedral Arts Project. What is the best part of your job?

AM4A3534Kimberly: The children are definitely the best part of the job — just witnessing how the arts can transform a child’s life. We see time and time again that there’s something about the arts to reach children in ways nothing else can. The arts stay with them for life and it is really a privilege to witness.

 

DCA: What are some of the challenges involved with leading this organization?

Kimberly: When leading any institution there are always challenges to overcome and we try to see these as opportunities to solve. One challenge would be the fact that there are so many children in our community who would benefit from an arts-rich education. Continuously trying to serve these children while maintaining the standards of our programming is definitely a challenge — to balance growth with maintaining quality.

DSC03547Right now, it is especially important to make sure everyone understands how vital the arts are when it comes to issues of mental health. It’s so tough to be growing up today and I really feel that it is more important than ever that children be able to utilize the arts as a means of self-expression. I think anyone who watched the powerful performance by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas theatre students at last year’s Tony Awards is aware of just how important the arts can be when facing complex challenges.

Getting everyone to understand that if you care about public education, you must care about arts education is also particularly challenging. We’ve been able to move the needle a great deal here in Jacksonville, but it is so important that everyone learns how impactful an arts education can be. We know what the arts are capable of achieving and we want to make them the top of everyone’s minds.

DCA: How has the organization evolved over the years?

Kimberly: When I came the budget was small, under $100,000. It was a fledgling ministry of the local cathedral that had just recently become a standalone nonprofit organization. Now our budget is over $2 million and growing — so we’ve definitely evolved in that way. This has allowed us to grow from being a small organization serving just a few children to a more complex organization that serves many more children, working collectively with others for systemic change. Today I tend to put our work into three buckets.

PHP 1718-1The first is that we teach children, so we provide arts learning to children who need it the most. That will always be the heart and soul of what we do. The Cathedral Arts Project also provides professional development for local artists, educators, and school administrators. The third bucket is advocacy. We spend a lot of energy on advocacy, working to broaden the relevance of arts education in the minds of families, policymakers, and business leaders. This goes hand-in-hand with what I said earlier, that caring about public education means caring about arts education.

For a program that started out serving just 10 kids in an afterschool dance class, we’ve grown tremendously. We directly impact more than 1,000 students each year through our afterschool and summer programs but are able to serve many more through the various facets of our programming. Over the years, more than 28,000 children have been enrolled in our programs.

DCA: Which counties or areas does your organization serve?

Kimberly: We serve all of Duval County, which has over 129,000 students enrolled in public schools.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution the Cathedral Arts Project makes to the community?

DSC04264Kimberly: It goes back to our mission statement. I truly believe that we are enriching the quality of life here for generations to come. The latter part of that statement is easy for us to sometimes gloss over, but the transformative effect that our work is having on a child’s life will have ripple effects for generations to come, in countless ways.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”? Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

DSC02413Kimberly: I think that culture really is what sets us apart as a state. Culture draws visitors to come and have experiences that they can’t have anywhere else. Culture is what draws companies to relocate their communities and it’s why people want to live here. I think it is culture that joins all of us to work here together, regardless of how different we might be. I believe that arts and culture provide opportunities for each of us to feel like we belong and to understand each other and really build one another up.


The Division thanks Rev. Kimberly Hyatt and the CAP team for their participation in this interview. To learn more about the Cathedral Arts Project, visit their website: https://capkids.org/.

Culture in Florida: March 2019

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Culture in Florida is a monthly news roundup to showcase our state’s wonderful diversity, spotlight the organizations and artists that contribute so much to our communities, and stress the comprehensive benefits of arts and culture to Florida’s economy and quality of life.

Welcome back! Here’s a taste of arts and culture in Florida during March 2019:

FEATURED FESTIVALS

The annual Gasparilla Music Festival was held in Tampa on March 9-10. This year’s festival featured a wide variety of performances that promoted the region’s cultural heritage and supported the festival’s music education initiatives.

In Miami, the Miami Design Preservation League facilitated the inaugural Miami Beach Cultural Crawl. Some of the areas most famous institutions teamed up to offer complimentary admission to attendees, who enjoyed a free trolley between venues such as the New World Symphony, The BASS Museum, and the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens among others.

“The greatest show in Gainesville” was on full display during Jest Fest. The event featured six stages of continuous entertainment from world-famous stars of circus and comedy.

The cities of Pembroke Pines and Apollo Beach also hosted weekend-long festivals that included juried art fairs, entertainment, food, and workshops for adults and children, and in Orange County, the Orlando Museum of Art held their annual Festival of Fine Arts and Flowers. This unique event hosted a museum-wide showcase of fresh floral designs inspired by the OMA permanent collection and current exhibitions in addition to a “Flower Power” party, a mystery home tour, live jazz, antique dealers, and much more.

EXCITING EVENTS

Key Chorale hosted their annual collaboration with The Circus Arts Conservatory, Cirque des Voix (R), performed under the Big Top at Nathan Benderson Park. This event, unlike anything else in the country, combined a 100 voice chorus, a 40 piece orchestra, and many spellbinding circus acts. At the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, visitors embarked on a Day Out with Thomas, a family-oriented event that offers aspiring engineers the opportunity to take a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine™.

Emerald Coast Science Center celebrated their 30th birthday this month with a celebration including live music, food and beverages, and a silent auction, and Zoo Miami held their annual fundraiser called Feast with the Beasts. This highly unique event offered wild animal encounters, food, live music, and merriment.

Naples Botanical Garden and Naples Garden Club teamed up to present the annual Naples Flower Show. This event is one of the largest flower shows in Florida and includes a Garden Market, educational demonstrations, juried designs and horticultural exhibits. Polk Museum of Art honored French language and culture by hosting La Francophonie Day. This French-focused educational program coincided with the closing of the museum’s Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist exhibition.

Studios of Key West hosted a Piano Marathon on March 17 to benefit Hugh’s View, the Studios’ rooftop visual and performing space set to open to the public in 2020. The all-day line-up of jazz, blues, classical, gospel, show tunes, standards, new music, and more featured a rotating cast of eighteen fabulous pianists.

In St. Petersburg, Studio @620 teamed up with projectAlchemy and Rebekah Lazaridis for a collaborative dance and visual art performance entitled “Bloom and Residue”. This interactive design performance explored themes of change, transformation, and new life.

OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

In Fort Myers, Alliance for the Arts held their 33rd annual All-Florida juried art exhibit. This exhibit featured pieces created by artists working in a wide variety of media from all over Florida. In Key West, Studios of Key West opened With the Grain, a collection of some of the nation’s most accomplished wood artists.

Carrollwood Cultural Center curated a unique show of expressive art that addresses the effects of Red Tide and other oceanic challenges called Ode to Red Tide and in Fort Lauderdale, Bonnet House and ArtServe opened Impressions: The New Aesthetic, Fort Lauderdale’s preeminent exhibition of modern and contemporary original work from South Florida.

Art and Culture Center/Hollywood opened a series of site-specific installations by local and national artists who explore discoveries between experimentation and academic practice with lighting, sets, sculpture, and performance called Frimaire is the Color of Adolescent Sunset.

Palm Beach’s Society of the Four Arts opened an exhibit that grew out of the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative called Portraits of Courage: A Commander-in-Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors. This exhibit brings together 66 full-color portraits and a four-panel mural painted by President Bush and other members of the United States military.

In Jacksonville, the Cummer Museum and Gardens opened Kota Ezawa: The Crime of Art, an exhibition that brings together light-boxes and video animations tha chronicle some of the most infamous and high profile museum heists in history. The exhibition’s images pay homage to artworks by Degas, Manet, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and others that were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.

UPCOMING IN APRIL

Check back next motnh to hear about Sarasota Film Festival, the Pensacola Jazz Festival, the Inaugural Holly Hill Arts Festival and so much more! Subscribe to this blog or follow us on Twitter for updates. 


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Grantee Feature: An “Ode to Understanding” at Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra

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About the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1981, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra brings a variety of high-level concert experiences to Florida’s capital city and surrounding region throughout the year. The orchestra regularly presents a five-concert subscription series in addition to young people’s concerts, Pops concerts, and special events throughout the community. On March 31, the TSO will present a unique opportunity for community dialogue on complex issues through the performance of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed and Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony.

Ode to Understanding

famu concert choirPresented by Leon County Government, the “Ode to Understanding” project brings together the forces of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, The Village Square, the Florida A&M Concert Choir, and the Morehouse College Glee Club to create a profound community event that will open hearts and inspire civil discourse.

 

On the first half of the concert is a new work titled Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, written for male chorus and orchestra. Seven Last Words of the Unarmed laments the deaths of seven African-American men, addressing complex and difficult emotions.

2017-2018 GleeClub MorehouseThe concert’s second half will present Beethoven’s beloved Ninth Symphony, a fitting expression of humanity, brotherhood, bonding and equality. Beethoven’s Ninth is a life-affirming masterpiece whose joyful message has inspired millions of people worldwide since its premiere in 1824. Through partnerships with local government, other arts organizations, and community members, the event underscores the importance of community to transcend division.

Following the first half of the concert, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil will a lead conversation with composer Joel Thompson and TSO Board Members Byron Greene and Patrick Slevin. Sheriff McNeil will interview these stakeholders about Thompson‘s piece of music, the TSO‘s decision to program it, and how shared artistic experiences impact the community as a whole. At the conclusion of the concert, the audience and the performers will be invited to break bread and talk with each other, as we seek a better understanding of complex social issues.

For more information, please visit the TSO’s website: https://www.tallahasseesymphony.org/odetounderstanding/.


This post was provided by Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Interested in seeing your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2.

Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Jason Tapia

The Florida Council on Arts and Culture is the 15-member advisory council appointed to advise the Secretary of State regarding cultural grant funding and on matters pertaining to culture in Florida.

Appointments to the Council are determined by the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, in consultation with the Secretary of State. The Governor manages seven seats that serve four-year terms. The President and Speaker manage four seats each, with terms of two years. The appointments are based on geographic representation, as well as demonstrated history of community service in the arts and culture.

In this bi-monthly series, we will introduce you to each member of the council and share their thoughts on the role of arts and culture in the state of Florida. This month, we chatted with Jason Tapia. Jason was appointed to the council in 2018 by Governor Scott. 


Jason Tapia STG_2136 copy webDivision of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 

Jason: I am a registered architect in Florida, New York and Texas. I live and practice in Miami. I own and manage a small business, the design firm: Building Center No.3. Our office is an interdisciplinary practice–we do Architecture, Interior Design and Landscape Design. I started my business in 2010 but I have been practicing architecture for 22 years. I am originally from New York and moved to Florida in 2004; at the time I was into motorcycles and wanted to live someplace I could ride all year round.

 

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”? Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Jason: That statement acknowledges that Culture and the Arts are an important part of the State’s economy. Everyone knows that Florida is an international tourist destination and the more we invest, as a State, in Arts and Culture the more outlets we can provide to both in State residents and visitors.

DCA: For you, what is the most inspiring part about working in the arts?

Jason: As a creative professional I look to the arts as a source of inspiration. Not just the visual arts but also the institutions that make the work accessible. As part of my own ongoing development as a professional I make time each month to attend openings and exhibits at least 2-3 times. As a parent of two small children I also look to the arts to provide new experiences for them in order to foster that appreciation for creativity and artistic expression.

DCA: What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture?

Jason: I hope the Council can benefit from my expertise in the design and construction industry. So much of art and culture happens in and around architecture and the landscape and within interiors. These are all areas that I practice in daily. If my experience can help the Council make more informed decisions or help shape how they implement their rules and guidelines in the future then I think I will have accomplished what I set out to do as a citizen architect.

Culture In Florida: February 2019

culture-in-florida

Culture in Florida is a monthly news roundup to showcase our state’s wonderful diversity, spotlight the organizations and artists that contribute so much to our communities, and stress the comprehensive benefits of arts and culture to Florida’s economy and quality of life.

February was as busy a month as ever! Arts and cultural organizations across the state celebrated Black History Month, a diverse group of festivals were held, and many interesting art exhibits opened to the public. Here’s just a taste of events around the state during the month of February:

FEATURED FESTIVALS

The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park kicked off their annual festival on February 10. The festival’s three weeks of choral, orchestral, and chamber music events continue through March 3 at various venues throughout the Orlando area. The Bach Festival Society is Central Florida’s oldest continuously operating performing arts organization. 

The Florida Experimental Film/Video Festival (“FlexFest”) was held from February 6-10 in Tampa. The festival screened over 100 films by filmmakers around the globe. In Orlando, Mennello Museum of American Art held their 5th annual Indie-Folkfest on February 16. The family and pet-friendly event showcased local, national, and regional art, music, and culinary exhibitions.

Lake Wales Arts Council also presented their 46th annual Art Festival on February 24 and 25. The critically-acclaimed festival attracts thousands of art lover every year and awards more than $30,000 in prizes to competing artists, and also includes food trucks, live entertainment, activities for children, and a student art show.

OPENINGS

Gauguin: Voyage to Paradise opened at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. The exhibition highlights the role of botanicals in the artist’s vision of the exotic, and is on display through June 10. In Fort Meyers, Alliance for the Arts opened The Nonagenarians of Shell Point on February 8. Each of the 20 black and white photographic portraits highlight the hobbies, spirits, and souls of Shell Point residents aged 90-99.

Broward County’s Young at Art kicked off a larger than life museum-wide event featuring ten new murals. The three-month long Mural Museum includes workshops, live painting exhibitions, and culminates in the collaborative creation of a public mural masterpiece in celebration of YAA’s 30th birthday on May 18, 2019.

Fort Lauderdale’s ArtServe held their annual juried exhibit ArtBravo from February 5-22. Entrants represented all disciplines and media. In St. Petersburg, Studio @620 featured the group exhibition titled Disparate Saints of St. Petersburg from February 9-28. The exhibit featured sevel local artists and included painting, photography, pastel drawings, and sculpture installations.

Winter Park’s Crealdé School of Art opened Keepers of Heritage: Puerto Rican Artists in Central Florida on February 1. The exhibit features paintings, mixed media, and sculpture by Puerto Rican artists honoring their cultural roots and is on display through May 18, 2019.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Four-time Grammy winner Seal appeared in a special gala concert with The Florida Orchestra on February 9. The multi-platinum singer-songwriter performed several hit songs as well as standards from the Great American Songbook to benefit the orchestra’s community and artistic initiatives.

Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History hosted the Jacksonville Mini Maker Faire on February 16. The event celebrates the innovative spirit of the region’s “maker movement” and collaboration in Northeast Florida and encourages creativity in each and every citizen.

The Muse Awards, St. Petersburg’s annual celebration of arts and cultural throughout the city, were held on February 8. The event features live music and artwork, dancing, celebration, and camaraderie and benefits creative work throughout the city.

In West Palm Beach, Norton Museum of Art celebrated the opening of the 59,000 square-foot Kenneth C. Griffin Building, designed by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Lord Norman Foster, as well as a re-imagined main entrance and accompanying sculpture garden. The dramatic updates to the museum will allow the Norton to increase programming and engage with the local community in more dynamic ways.

UPCOMING IN MARCH

Emerald Coast Science Center celebrates its 30th anniversary, Tampa hosts the annual Gasparilla Music Festival on March 9-10, and Spring Break fun for kids at arts organizations throughout the state. Subscribe to this blog or follow us on Twitter for more updates!


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion. 

Grantee Feature: Great Explorations Across the Ability Continuum

Provided by Great Explorations Children’s Museum

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For over 30 years, Great Explorations Children’s Museum has been committed to bringing innovative, hands-on, educational programs to area youth while also providing invaluable family support services that promote safe and healthy caregiver-child relationships. Known as “Great Ex” to locals, the museum’s mission is to stimulate learning through creativity, play and exploration.

GreatEx-edit-42841Founded in 1986 as the result of a movement to create a children’s museum by the Junior League of St. Petersburg, Great Explorations maintains a significant presence in the Tampa Bay area and nationwide. A member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the Association of Children’s Museums, Great Explorations was the first mid-sized children’s museum to receive accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. It is the only accredited children’s museum in Tampa Bay and one of fewer than a hundred accredited children’s museums nationwide. Great Explorations is committed to upholding museum standards of excellence through its work with children and families in the St. Petersburg community and beyond.

Longos cove kidsSince its founding, Great Explorations has remained steadfastly committed to education through a variety of avenues both inside the museum and out in the community.  We provide S.T.E.A.M. based educational exhibits and programs daily on the museum floor for visitors and school field trip groups.  Our Museum InReach field trips provide elementary-aged children with opportunities for unrestricted self-guided “purposeful play,” providing a unique multi-sensory approach to the traditional classroom subjects taught in school. As funding permits, Title 1 schools and nonprofits are granted free field trips and bus vouchers to ensure students access to our museum; and for many of these students, it is their first visit to a museum in their lifetime.

GreatEx-edit-42930Our educational programming for school-aged children extends to summer camp opportunities as well as after school programming that not only provides homework assistance but extends learning opportunities beyond school hours in our nurturing, enriching and fun environment. Our community outreaches also allow us to take our educational programs mobile, bringing hands-on interactive S.T.E.A.M. activities directly into the most at-risk communities, providing access to high-quality, fun, educational experiences to those that are unable to access these programs at the museum due to monetary or transportation barriers.

Great Explorations is committed to accessibility for all children in our community. In addition to providing reduced admission rates to those in need, after hours museum access for nonprofits and community groups, and resources and educational workshops for families, parents, and caregivers, Great Explorations has developed programming specifically to reach those on the autism spectrum as well as those experiencing memory loss.

GREAT CONNECTIONS

DSC_0330After consulting with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, Great Explorations launched “Great Connections” in January 2014. The goal of the program was to provide a less crowded and stimulating time for families of children with special needs to explore the museum. We provide extra staff for increased safety and supervision and a “cool down room” for children who need a break.

We are able to offer half-off of our standard admission price to families attending these sessions, and regularly distribute free family passes through our community partners.  We also provide an opportunity for families of children with special needs to connect with community resources in a low-pressure and casual way. In the past, we have connected families with therapeutic drummers, arts organizations, chiropractors, therapy centers, urgent care clinics, and many others.

DSC_0368We are thankful to be one of many organizations that have begun to offer sensory-friendly experiences. It has always been our goal to represent a more inclusive environment that might encourage families to feel more comfortable participating in other museum programs like camps, Parents’ Night Out, and special events, opening the door to a more inclusive experience for all families at all times. We are thrilled to say that we have witnessed this to be the case since the program’s inception. Many families continue exploring the museum even after we open to the general public, and many speech and occupational therapists use our “child-sized world” as a safe place for therapy during standard operating hours.

DSC_0351In the five years since its launch, Great Connections has been a huge benefit to our community because it connects people. It connects family members to each other through interactive engagement fostered by play, it connects families to other families facing similar challenges, and it connects families to services and support from local organizations. We hope to continue to adapt to the needs of the community and to represent the holistic benefits of providing inclusive environments that celebrate the diversity of our community’s children.

MEMORY MONDAY

Memory monday_02Great Explorations is also committed to engaging differently abled adults. In 2017, the museum was approached by three women, now affectionately known as the “Brain Dames”, about being involved in an ongoing program that would provide experiences that could benefit adults with memory loss. In partnership with AARP and the “Brain Dames”, as well Great Ex’s Director of Community Initiatives, Lael Arango, we launched “Memory Monday” in 2018.

Memory Monday is a free, two-hour event that takes place on the first Monday of the month. The core programming includes music, movement, art, humor, intergenerational interaction, and brain boosts, which are strategies, tips and recipes to engage the mind even when memory challenges make other activities difficult.

Since  February 2018, 118 people with memory challenges (affectionately called “cared-fors”) and 82 caregivers have attended Memory Monday. In its second year, we have moved the program to a larger space to accommodate the high number of participants, volunteers and presenters.

memory-9302Memory Monday is unique in that it goes beyond providing a social experience or a “keep Grandma occupied” experience by presenting high-quality activities that enrich and engage participants. For example, the Florida Orchestra brought violins to one event and everyone had the opportunity to play them – one table of participants even pieced together “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and played it in unison in an impromptu performance. Each month, an instructor from Arts4All Florida facilitates Mindful Moves, during which one dance is made up of movements inspired by a conversation with participants about love, or nature, or whatever the theme of the month is. The instructor puts the movements in a sequence and sets them to music, allowing participants to do a memory activity tied to physical movement and the sensory experience of listening to beautiful music.

Small groups of children from the museum’s educational programs come participate in an activity with the adults each month. One month they may all be learning about the bassoon together, while another month they are painting flower pots and planting seeds together. One month last year they made cards and put together hygiene bags for families at our local Ronald McDonald House together. Many people cite the interaction with the children as their favorite part of the program, and the children’s enjoyment shows on their faces.

JeanneAuggie_MemoryMondayMemory Monday benefits the community by reminding people with memory challenges that their brains are still able to learn and that they are still able to enjoy new experiences. We have also created numerous partnerships with organizations that aren’t necessarily on the front lines of serving families with memory loss, bringing diverse organizations together to serve a growing population in a unique and creative way.

In the future, we hope to be able to reach even more people in the community. We often have requests to hold Memory Monday more frequently, and we’d love to be able to expand our services to caregivers or to provide service-based experiences for our cared-fors. We are honored to provide a safe, nurturing, explorative environment for children and families across the ability continuum and lifespan.

To learn more about Great Explorations Children’s Museum, visit our website: https://greatex.org/.

The Division thanks Lael Arango, Mandy Paige, and Great Explorations staff for their participation in this post.


Interested in seeing your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2