About culturebuildsflorida

This blog is managed by Curtis Young, Communications Coordinator for the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs.

Grantee Feature: The Naples Players – Responding to the Current Crisis

The Naples Players is a nationally-recognized community theatre. Founded in 1953, they fulfill their mission to enrich, educate and entertain the community through dozens of educational programs for adults and kids alike, children’s theatre, live concerts, residencies and comedy nights in addition to their regular performance season. A true community theatre, their 650 volunteers put in more than 65,000 hours per year.

How does an organization respond to a ban on gatherings of large numbers of people when their artistic medium requires such gatherings? We asked Executive Artistic Director Bryce Alexander about the adjustments Naples Players have made in order to reach out to and serve their community.

Hospital masks made by Naples Players volunteers

The Naples Players has called itself a “theatre for the community” since we were founded 67 years ago. It is this very creed that has kept The Naples Players operating – even in an augmented form – during these challenging times.  

Like many people, our first impression of COVID-19 came from social media. So, too, did our first act of community service. The Naples Players utilizes more than 650 volunteers for more than 65,000 volunteer hours every year. After understanding that the theatre would have to shut its doors to performances, Resident Costume Designer Dot Auchmoody saw a Facebook post containing a pattern to build surgical masks. She quickly realized that this was a way the costume staff and volunteers could continue to utilize their skills. A call was placed to the local hospital, and an offer made to use any of our remaining bolts of fabric to create surgical style masks. The hospital requested 300. It was only a matter of days until the hospital called, needing as many masks as had already been created.  

Combining the effort of the staff in alternating shifts at the theatre, volunteers were also able to contribute – and were given “take-home” kits to continue making masks at home. Word quickly spread about our efforts, and a local printing company offered to use their laser cutters to cut the fabric patterns of the masks. This collaboration allowed high-precision, high-output capacity of the masks while furthering our business relationships – all the while continuing to engage and train our volunteers. We continue to make masks today, providing them to hospitals, nursing homes, and others who may need them. 

Intubation box made by Naples Players

This effort was utilized in the scene shop, too: when Assistant Technical Director Chase Lilienthal realized he could use leftover plexiglass to create intubation boxes, a critical shield for protecting doctors and nurses when intubating patients. A simple pattern was built, and the boxes have become another added tool to help protect our community’s heroes. 

At the same time, our Education Department began to think of the impact this crisis would have on students. Serving more than 1,200 students on-site in classes every year, we know that the social and imaginative access our programs provide our students would be critical to their at-home education. In only 1 week, all of the education programs, for every age and level, were modified and moved to electronic formats. Not only has this provided the students continuity and connection, it has inspired the theatre to evaluate ways to bring virtual classes to underserved populations in the future. Parents have been overwhelmingly thankful for the outlet this has provided. Adult students crave the voice the classes provide as well. 

Online improv class for students from the STARability Foundation

The Naples Players has made news in the past for creating a “Director of Community Wellness and Education” to connect arts education with wellness programs, and just this week provided 30 students with disabilities from the STARability Foundation a virtual improv class to discuss emotions and current events, hosted an “Improv for Isolation” class for 15 adults, and provided free virtual yoga on our social media platforms. These efforts will continue weekly. As April is National Poetry Month, we will be calling for poems related to COVID-19 to be submitted, and they will be given dramatic readings by local performers.  

Finally, we’ve been able to utilize our technical departments and artists to create digital content that continues to promote the arts and engage with our community. Live-streaming concerts have been viewed by 5k+ people just this week,  and virtual sing-a-longs and virtual cabarets have called on quarantined artists to submit their performances digitally.  

Improv for Isolation flyer/graphic

The Naples Players could lose close to $500,000 to cancelled performances through June. Our endowment saw its value fall by more than $1.5m since this crisis began. Knowing the endowment funds exist for times of need, we’ve been standing strong to continue serving our community – and the community has responded. Subscriptions to next season continue to sell, small donations have been flooding in and online engagement has continued to allow us to spread the arts further than ever before.  

The financial impacts of this shutdown will be deep. Reliance on the generosity of our community is going to be crucial. Most importantly, we know our patrons, donors, and volunteers are embracing our position as a theatre for community – and together we will all get through this.  

Art Talk: Sheila Womble, Executive Director of Arts for Learning

Ms. Womble is a Miami native and has over 15 years of arts leadership experience. She drove Arts for Learning through a significant period of growth and transition by increasing the annual budget over 55% in one year as a result of expanding programs and evaluating initiatives. Her leadership has helped Arts for Learning develop programs that serve children from infancy through high school, allowing Miami’s youth additional opportunities to grow with the arts.

She previously managed a private art collection, handled artists, and community relations and marketing services for ArtCenter/South Florida. She holds a degree in Art History & Anthropology from the University of Miami, and she studied at the Institute for American Studies in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Chat Travieso, students and Sheila Womble

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Sheila: I chose a career in the arts because the arts are important to me; they are ever changing, reflecting, challenging and most importantly an endless source of provocation, interest, and beauty.

DCA: How long have you worked in Florida?

Sheila: I am a Miami native and have worked here for 25 years.

DCA: What is the best part of your job?

Sheila: Leading an arts organization, particularly a youth arts organization, has many brilliant and demanding components. The part of my job I enjoy the most is supporting my team, ensuring that they can thrive and succeed.

DCA: Tell us a little bit about your organization. What are you currently working on?

Sheila: Arts for Learning is an amazing organization with the mission of advancing teaching and learning through the arts. Our vision is that Miami’s youngest residents, from infancy through high school, are empowered by the arts to thrive in the world with knowledge, creativity and passion. We deliver programs at preschools, schools and out-of-school locations to reach more than 5,000 children each year. We currently have two very special initiatives. We have partnered with Easter Seals South Florida to work in all of their Head Start Classrooms to make sure our youngest and often most vulnerable residents can thrive and develop key social-emotional skills through the use of the arts in the classroom. We also are in the final stages of working with teens from the Liberty City community to create public works of art that honor the history of their neighborhood while also investigating the remnants of a segregation wall from the 1930s. The students explore the policies of that time that still affect their community, families and schools.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that your organization makes to your community?

Sheila: We give children of all ages and abilities the chance to create. It seems like a simple concept but having a child conceive of an idea, conduct research, learn new techniques (in any artistic discipline) and create a work is to give them a voice and a platform. It is powerful.

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

Sheila: Culture is everything, without culture there is no foundation to build mutual understanding or communication. It is the soul of a community or entity. The arts are a critical part of culture; they help define and shape us as people. When I hear “Culture Builds Florida,” it reinforces what really matters which is how we live our daily lives including what we should prioritize, invest in and nurture.

Arts for Learning video

The Division thanks Sheila Womble and Arts for Learning Miami affiliate for their participation in this interview. To learn more about Arts for Learning, visit their website: http://www.a4lmiami.org/.

Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2 (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Culture in Florida: November 2019

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.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of November:


FEATURED FESTIVALS

At the start of November, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum hosted the American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) in the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. The festival visitors got to experience dances, native music and meet some wildlife. The festival offered a variety of performances and vendors who brought silverwork, beadwork, woodwork, leatherwork, basketry, photography, paintings, jewelry and an array of food.

event flyer

The Chalk Festival presented its second festival for the year at the Venice Airport Fairgrounds where artists are given a space to create over-sized masterpieces. The Chalk Festival is known for displaying large 3D pavement illusions in one location, but visitors also experienced traditional paintings and original artworks. The “Garden of Wonders” Chalk Festival was open for four days and featured events like the Pavement Music Festival, artistic vendors, performers and food vendors.

A couple taking a picture in one of the Chalk Festival artworks, see original picture on Facebook

SPECIAL EVENTS

The 78th Annual North Florida Fair took place in Tallahassee, FL from November 7th to 17th. The fair was filled with entertainment, food, thrilling rides, educational exhibits and so much more.

Sandtastic Sand Sculpture in the Marketplace building

From November 22nd to 24th. the Professional Development for Artists Workshop took place at Panama City Center for the Arts hosted by Bay Arts Alliance. Artists learned about funding, promoting, growing their business and find resources for sustainability and disaster preparedness.

Final day of Professional Development for Artists Workshop

OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Gulfshore Playhouse started their production of It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and will performing through December 29th. Prepare to go back to the 1940s in a radio studio where actors will be broadcasting Frank Capra’s film. The show features five actors (Andrea Prestinario, Brian Owen, James Leaming, Jeffrey Binder and Keri Safran) who take on each character and produce live sound effects.

Pictured: Keri Safran in It’s A Wonderful Life, see original post on Facebook

On November 23rd, the Museum of Florida History had an open reception for donated landscape art collection by Ron Risner. The 163 paintings in the collection illustrate Florida’s diverse terrain, featuring springs, rivers and forests.

Henry Von Genk III, Drifting over the Glades, 1988

The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami reopened on November 26th with an exhibition featuring Alice Rahon’s “Poetic Invocations.” The exhibition is guest curated by Mexico City-based art historian, Tere Arcq. The exhibition aims to contribute and recognize under-explored female artists and the European art influences in the Americas.

Next Morning, 1958, 43 7/8 x 76 3/4 inches, Collection of Frances and Don Baxter

UPCOMING IN DECEMBER

The United States premiere of Chopin: The Space Concert, a documentary film by Adam Ustynowicz will feature members of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra and Polish soloists. The premiere will take place at the Kennedy Space Center on December 5th at 7 PM.

On December 15th, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida will perform at the brand new Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The Chorus will be celebrating their 10th season with singer/songwriter, Jordin Sparks.

Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida event flyer

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 Spotlight: Florida Repertory Theatre

ABOUT FLORIDA REPERTORY THEATRE

The Florida Repertory Theatre (Florida Rep) is a professional regional theatre company in Southwest Florida. Since 1998, Florida Rep has produced a variety of comedies, dramas and musicals. With over 87,000 people attending each year, this theatre has become an essential part of Lee County’s cultural, economic and educational vitality. Their commitment is to create, nurture and develop long-term relationships in the community through arts and accessibility.


Florida Repertory Theatre believes that the arts should be shared with everyone. Florida Rep outreaches to the visually impaired and Blind community by offering Audio Description services at a performance for each play in our Arcade and ArtStage Studio Theatres. Audio Description involves the accessibility of the visual images of theater to people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired. Using words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative, audio describers convey the live action on the stage though an earpiece to the patron. We also provide Braille programs.

Florida Rep also strives to eliminate barriers to attendance for patrons who are hard of hearing or Deaf. Patrons at any performance, in both theatres, can request high tech listening devices; the Williams Sound Amplifier System or the Inductive Hearing Loop System for hearing aids. These devices amplify and clarify sound. We also provide theatregoers who use American Sign Language an ASL performance for the Arcade Theatre shows.

An American Sign Language performance of Florida Rep’s education production, Junie B. Jones – The Musical

DCA funding, along with additional grants and private & corporate donations, has helped pay for these accessibility assistance programs, making art accessible to every audience member in our community in the effort to bring theater to those who otherwise would not have access to the arts. Our next ASL performance of An Inspector Calls will be on Dec 8 at 2pm, and the Audio Description performance will be on 12/15/19 at 2 pm.

See a full schedule of these performances for Florida Rep’s Season 22.

Banner of Florida Rep’s latest production, An Inspector Calls. Photo from Florida Rep’s website

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Culture in Florida: October 2019

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.

October was a busy month for the Division as we celebrated our 50th Anniversary at the Ringling Museum, home to a Museum of Art, the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, the Circus Museums and the Historic Asolo Theater. The Ringling is the State Art Museum of Florida administered by Florida State University.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of October:

FEATURED EVENTS

Your Real Stories Gallery & Studio closed their 6th Annual Story Days in Tampa Bay with an art walk and closing reception at the ArtsXchange.

Event flyer on Your Real Stories’ website

The Museum of Arts & Sciences opened three exhibits last month: Biodiversity in the Art of Carel Peiter Brest van Kempen, Volusia Wilderness Captured: Florida Paintings by Sandra Lloyd, and Painting with Paper: The Art of Akiko Sugiyama.

Wave of seeds (2014), Akiko Sugiyama, vellum, watercolor, foam board

SPECIAL REPORT

The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine and ArtPlace America released: Creating Healthy Communities through Cross-sector Collaboration! Read the full report: https://arts.ufl.edu/sites/creating-healthy-communities/resources/white-paper/

The report presents over 250 thought leaders from public health, arts and culture, and community development sectors who convened between 2018 and 2019. In addition to their voices, over 500 people participated in a national field survey and focus groups. The paper offers examples and recommendations for expanding cross-sector collaboration and innovation.


50TH CELEBRATION

The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County hosted the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA) 50th Anniversary Celebration. Members of the DCA staff, Florida Council on Arts & Culture, and leaders of the Local Arts Agencies (LAA) were greeted on October 1 with a reception at Florida Studio Theatre.

The following day was filled with business meetings hosted at Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Ringling Museum. Afterwards, everyone joined local elected officials and arts executives for a celebration in the Ringling Courtyard. Jim Shirley, the Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, served as the master of ceremonies. The DCA staff, Florida Council on Arts & Culture, and LAA leaders were welcomed by the Director of the Division of Cultural Affairs, Sandy Shaughnessy, and the Executive Director of the Ringling, Steven High.

The Florida Secretary of State, Laurel Lee addressed the audience and presented featuring performances by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and a recent finalist on America’s Got Talent, Emanne Beasha.

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe performing
Emanne Beasha performing
Anniversary cake in the Ringling Courtyard

Stay tuned for an upcoming release of the Division’s 50th Anniversary book, 50 Stories for 50 Years. This book will feature individual artists, fellows, festivals, community centers, local arts agencies, and arts organizations throughout Florida. The book will include the lasting impacts of state funding on arts and culture in Florida’s diverse environments and communities.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Check out the wonderful collection of landscape art donated by Florida resident Ron Risner at the Museum of Florida History. The 163 paintings in the collection illustrate Florida’s unique and varied terrain throughout the sunshine state. The public is invited to the opening reception on November 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. For more information, call the Museum of Florida History at (850)-245-6400 or go to www.museumoffloridahistory.com.

banner for Risner’s exhibition

If you haven’t already, apply for South Arts‘ Southern Prize and State Fellowships! Nine artists will share $80,000 in awards and be featured in a touring exhibition. All artists will receive $5,000 State Fellowship where one will be named Southern Prize finalist, receiving an additional $10,000 and one will be named Southern Prize winner, receiving an additional $25,000 and a 2-week residency at the Hambridge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences. The deadline to apply is December 3. For more information go to https://www.southarts.org/individual-artists/southern-prize-artist-fellowships/?fbclid=IwAR1OgmP4nPQlZVMg4LkCZWkySMeGciROsQ5jFLqoU_XuiL6dUsSV0Z7ZDkM.

Southern Prize artwork square

Make sure to check in with your local arts council this month as performing arts organizations begin their new seasons across the state!


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. 

Special Feature: Foo Foo Festival

Festival logo

Do you Foo? There’s nothing quite like Pensacola, Florida in the Fall and if it’s Fall that means it’s time for Foo Foo Fest!

The highly-anticipated arts and culture festival, one of the largest in the South, spans an impressive 12 days and has blossomed into a “don’t miss” event for both tourists and locals alike. Pensacola will host the 6th Annual Foo Foo Festival from October 31 to November 11, 2019. This year’s Foo Foo Fest line up runs the gamut from internationally-acclaimed classical piano virtuoso Garrick Ohlsson, renowned jazz band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Multi-Grammy nominated musician Marsha Ambrosius to “Skulptures” (a display of 3D printable skateable concrete structures) and a performance of The Savannah Sipping Society (a new play by The Golden Girls writers). Strategically positioned around and during some of Pensacola’s most popular events, the 12-day Foo Foo Fest straddles some of the area’s longstanding and favorite happenings including the 47th Annual Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival, the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show, Pensacola Eggfest and the 35th Annual Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival.

Stompfest Step Show

Foo Foo Fest is big fun, with events of high artistic and cultural caliber, delivered with a hefty dose of Southern sophistication. Pensacola’s pristine sugar-white beaches and emerald green water entice visitors from all over the world. Upon arrival in the delightful Florida panhandle city, many find themselves equally captivated by its history, culture and diverse heritage. The Foo Foo Festival profiles and celebrates this wide array of culture throughout the city, featuring innovative and extraordinary artists from all genres including art, music, theatre and much more.

In addition to the plethora of arts and cultural happenings during Foo Foo Fest, Pensacola offers year-round historic walking tours, a large farmer’s market, quaint shops, food trucks and brewery tours. Visitors can stroll along the bay, enjoy the beautiful beaches, experience the culinary arts scene, and take in historic sites all staged in the backdrop of relaxed elegance unique to this historic city on the Gulf Coast.

For more information, visit: www.foofoofest.com

A crowd watching a music performance

Interested in seeing your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/vqbSaYZypLbGqMH89

Culture in Florida: September 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.

September was as busy a month as ever! Arts and cultural organizations across the state celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, a diverse group of festivals were held, and many interesting art exhibits opened to the public.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of September:


FEATURED FESTIVAL

Hemming Park in Jacksonville, Florida hosted their second annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration with an evening of music, dance, food, and fun for all families presented by VyStar Credit Union. Performances included Orchestra Fuego, CaribeGroove, and Danzas Perujax.


SPECIAL EVENTS

The Young at Art Museum (YAA) is celebrating their 30th anniversary. As part of their celebrations, the YAA offered 2 for 1 admission throughout the month. September is also Broward Arts and Attractions Month which encourages museum visitors to experience the diversity of cultures throughout 17 museums in Broward County.

The United Arts of Central Florida, UF Center for Arts in Medicine, ArtPlace America, and the Division of Cultural Affairs presented the Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health Florida Conference on September 23-24 hosted by Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and The Pabst Steinmetz Foundation. Over 250 attendees of art professionals, public health professionals, educators, researchers and government officials, from around the nation, gathered to connect at the intersections of the arts, public health, and community development.


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (TSO) began their concert season this month with French Impressions featuring music by French composers including Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Conrad Tao was the featured pianist for the TSO’s first concert.

The Museum of Florida History hosted the 37th Annual Capital City Quilt Show Autumn Reverie on September 27th. This exhibit will be on display until November 3, in partnership with the Quilters Unlimited of Tallahassee. Quilters will be there to answer questions and give information about quilting. A scavenger hunt, interactive stitch boards, and magnetic quilt table are also available for young visitors.

Each year, the exhibit highlights the Opportunity Quilt, designed by members of the guild. This year’s quilt features Autumn Reverie. The quilt design is from the Lakeshore Hosta quilt pattern by Judy and Brad Niemeyer. Visitors have a chance to win the Opportunity Quilt be making a contribution to Quilters Unlimited.

2019 Opportunity Quilt, Autumn Reverie

UPCOMING IN OCTOBER

The Spanish Lyric Theatre is presenting an off-Broadway hit filled with your favorite songs from the 50’s and 60’s, The Marvelous Wonderettes.

Join the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden for their 2019 Lantern Festival on Saturday, October 19 from 3 to 8 pm. General admission ticket sales start at 10 am on October 7.

A SMALL THANK YOU

Here at the Division of Cultural Affairs, we finished all the grant panel meetings. A big thank you to every panelist and arts representative who participated in the meetings. We appreciate your time and hard work!


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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.