Grantee Feature: Great Explorations Across the Ability Continuum

Provided by Great Explorations Children’s Museum

GreatEx-edit-42354

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

 

Art Talk: Jane Lindberg, President of Arts Alive Nassau

Arts Alive Nassau provides arts opportunities and educational experiences free of charge to students in Nassau County schools. We chatted with founder and president Jane Lindberg to learn more about the organization and about her career in Florida.

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tell us about the history and founding of Arts Alive Nassau.

Jane: We were formerly known as the Amelia Arts Academy. In the 1990’s, we were the only organization in our area that offered private lessons in different kinds of arts. By 2011, our original plan was not working and the organization was failing miserably. I was trying to raise funds to start a band in one of the elementary schools and went to see a potential funder. He was hesitant to support an organization that was giving lessons to kids from families who could afford to pay for them. I took this information back to our board of directors and we began to rethink our operations. There were hundreds of kids in Nassau County who were totally without any kind of cultural life… there was no visual arts curriculum in the elementary schools at all and very minimal music instruction. So we started a conversation with the school board about how our organization could provide the artists/teachers and the programming if they could provide the space and the children. This was the beginning of our organization as it is known today.

image (4)In 2012, we were “reborn” as Arts Alive Nassau and started offering three programs: a dulcimer class, an elementary school band, and a visual art class. Originally, we worked with three elementary schools and provided the classes after school. Over the past six years, we have grown to providing 20 after school classes and two classes with the ESE program during the school day. We are now a presence in each of the nine elementary schools in the county.  The schools don’t charge us anything for the use of the space and we are able to offer our instruction free of charge, in exchange. It’s a wonderful relationship because finding space and getting kids on location is often a problem. Through our partnership, the instruction happens right where they are and it has worked very well.

DCA: What is unique about the population that your organization serves?

Jane: Nassau County is very unique. The differences between the South end of Amelia Island, West County and East County are huge. Some towns such as Yulee, Callahan, and Bryceville are mostly rural and there are very few arts opportunities at all. Bryceville Elementary, for example, is so small that they don’t even have a music teacher or art teacher. But, the schools in these towns were the first to contact us with interest of seeing what we could do for their students.

DCA: What types of programming does Arts Alive Nassau offer?

IMG_3747Jane: We offer music lessons, violin, ukulele, band… one of the elementary schools has both a brass ensemble and a drumline. We still offer our dulcimer classes as well as visual arts classes in painting, drawing, and puppetry. We also have a great partnership with a theater company in South Carolina, the Baillie Players, that has helped us produce musicals at Callahan Elementary School for the past five years. This year they are doing “Snow White”. The teacher at Callahan has all the music, scripts, choreography and casts the show and then our partner company will come down to coach the kids and bring the sets, costumes, and props. There are usually 40-50 students involved and it’s such a wonderful thing for the children. In Callahan, which has a population of around 1,300, the community members and families come out in droves to see the children perform– even the mayor usually makes an appearance! It’s a great event not only for the students involved but for the community, as well.

In the past, we have also facilitated an honors chorus, which has recently developed into the First Coast Singers.

DCA: How many students are involved with your programs?

Drumlineclass2018Jane: Each year, close to 600 students are involved in our activities. Currently, we have 255 students in our classroom-based programs. We’d love to be able to reach more students but are limited, like many organizations, by our budget.

We emphasize quality over quantity. Most of our music classes have a limit of ten students. This is to ensure that our students are getting the best possible instruction at all times.

DCA: What is your role within the organization?

Jane: I am “president for life”. Our organization is very small and has no paid executive director. We are fortunate to have a wonderful board of directors made up of people who really care and really show up. They are the driving force behind everything that we do.

Four years ago, we were fortunate to receive an endowment that has enabled us to hire a program director. She has done an incredible job working with the schools and coordinating everything. We are constantly coming up with new ways to grow, and to involve students in the arts from early on. This is really important to me because I think that we, as a society, are somewhat culturally illiterate. The arts are not valued nearly as much as the value that they add.

DCA: How long have you lived and worked in Florida?

Jane: I moved here in 1998 with my husband to build an industrial plant in Yulee, for manufacturing and assemble electrical controls. For a long time, I was not very involved in the arts, but then began teaching music history at Jacksonville University. While I eventually left my teaching position due to the travel time, I still miss being around the students. College students are wonderful in the way that they think about things– it’s just a different perspective. I think I’ve always been a teacher at heart– it’s really what I love most. So right now, that’s still at the heart of what I do, even if I do most of it on a volunteer basis.

DCA: What is the best part of your job?

Close up performanceIt’s definitely seeing the children’s faces. When they get excited and they’ve just learned how to play something, they are so proud of themselves. I think that arts education presents the opportunity for children to find out who they are inside because to me, that’s what the arts give us. They allow children the opportunity to find out who they are through creativity. To see the awakening that takes place in every student and the self assurance and self esteem that comes from learning that they can perform and create in front of people is just amazing. I think that the arts are wonderful because you can have so much fun while you’re learning.

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

Jane: It’s amazing to know that we are providing an opportunity for these children that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Our school board does the best that they can– they’re facing constant budget cuts from the legislature and we are able to fill in the gaps and provide art and music to students when the school district can’t.

In some ways, our county is very depressed, so having arts and cultural education available to students is so important. We really want to document what we’ve been able to do in Nassau County so that we can share it with others who might be able to start a similar program where they live and work.

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

Bryceville Jan 2019.2 (002)

 

Jane: Florida, physically, is an absolutely beautiful state– really, there are places in Florida that are just gorgeous. But I think that arts and culture make us civilized. They soften our world and our environment tremendously. I can’t imagine living in a place without art– what a horrible thing it would be if there were nothing stimulating to see or to hear. Arts and culture make us different as human beings– and right now, I think we need culture more than ever.

For more information about Arts Alive Nassau, visit their website at: http://www.artsalivenassau.org/.

The Division thanks Jane Lindberg, President of Arts Alive Nassau, for her participation in this interview. 

Art Talk: Jennifer Sabo, Executive Director of Arts4All Florida

Arts4All Florida is a statewide service organization dedicated to making the arts accessible for everyone. We chatted with Jennifer Sabo, the organization’s executive director, to learn more the organization and about her career in Florida.

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

Jennifer: I attended grad school at UF and earned a Master’s in Museum Studies with a concentration in Education. After grad school, I briefly moved to LA, but ultimately came back to Florida, working at the Ringling Museum for a few years as the Youth and Families Program Manager. After that, I had the opportunity to be the founding Director of Education at the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples. That was a true labor of love! It was so exciting to be part of building something from the dirt up. I then had the not-so-brilliant idea to move north again (into the cold), but was soon looking to move back to Florida right when Arts4All Florida (formerly VSA Florida) was looking for a new Executive Director. It worked out perfectly, as I already knew a lot about the organization and had partnered with them on a few programs when I was working with Ringling and Golisano. I’ve now been the Executive Director at Arts4All Florida for a little over four years.

DCA: Tell us about your work with Arts4All Florida. What is the best part of your job?

Jennifer: There are three parts to my job. One part involves the typical Executive Director task of funding the organization—both finding funding and managing funding. A big part of our budget comes from the Florida Department of Education, so a lot of my work is managing and writing our grants, meeting deliverables, reviewing program evaluations, communicating with stakeholders, and so on.

Another big part of my job is what is typical of much nonprofit administration work, “other duties as assigned”. This includes a little bit of everything—marketing, event planning, working at summer camps, and many other things. This is one of the things that I love about the organization. We have an amazing—but small—staff, so everyone really works together and takes turns helping one another with their duties. No one is a silo!

The last part of my job involves trainings, conducting both in-person trainings for school districts and cultural organizations and webinars. We help teach others about accommodations and accessibility for all. I love this part of my job. Most of the time, the people that are at the training really want to be there and want to be more inclusive and accessible. It’s awesome when you see the lightbulb go off in someone’s head and say, “this will work for my neurotypical students, too!” Our vision is really to make the arts accessible for everybody.

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

Jennifer: Funding. Every year, the month of April is really stressful, as we wait to hear about grants and other funding sources. We are an interesting organization in that we are both public and private. A large portion of our funding comes from the Department of Education through the University of South Florida. All of our staff are USF employees, but we are also a private 501(c)(3). This makes my work interesting because we have to report to our funders, the DOE, USF, and school districts in more than 60 different counties.

DCA: How has the organization evolved over the years?

Jennifer: The organization is now 38 years old. It was founded in 1981 as a joint project between the Florida Department of Education and the Division of Cultural Affairs. Florida was incredibly proactive about facilitating arts accessibility in this regard– the organization was founded before the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was originally called Florida Arts for the Handicapped, and was part of the international organization that eventually became VSA (which stood for “Very Special Arts”). In 1986, VSA directed all affiliate organizations to become private nonprofit organizations, which was the start of the organization as it exists today.

The program has changed throughout the years based on whatever the needs have been at certain times. We have hosted conferences, residencies, trainings, and now we do a little bit of everything.

Recently, we changed our name from VSA Florida to Arts4All Florida to signify our focus on universal arts. We want everyone to be able to participate in the arts together, not just people with disabilities.

DCA: Which counties or areas do you serve?

Jennifer: For the past two years, we have served 64 different counties throughout Florida. We serve each differently based on their specific needs.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that Arts4All Florida makes to the community?

Jennifer: Our vision is to make it so that everyone can do art together, so that the arts are universally accessible to people with and without disabilities. The arts are a unifying force and they really level the playing field, so to speak. Many people who have disabilities are able to be incredibly successful in the arts. It’s really cool to see someone without a disability appreciating the art of someone with a disability.

We just wrapped up our “A Definition of Dance” program which we started four years ago. We wanted to bring world-renowned dancers with disabilities to Tampa to do community outreach and performances. The performance during the first year of the program was one of the most incredible performances that I have ever been to in my life, one of those events where everything comes together just right and amazing things happen. In year two, we expanded the program to bring in more dancers and travel to more cities. We were able to bring in 15 artists with all different kinds of abilities from eight different countries for performances in Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa. This year, we brought in the dance crew ILL-Abilities, and they were absolutely amazing. They spoke about discovering and overcoming their disabilities through dance, and were able to translate this story into their performances. Each dancer performed solo before they came together as a crew. The coolest part was watching how kids reacted to their performance—the kids didn’t focus on the dancers’ disabilities—they just thought, “this is really cool”. That experience was really like our vision coming to life.

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

Jennifer: As I mentioned before, the arts are a unifying presence for everybody, whether you are a creator or a consumer. Everybody can enjoy some type of arts and everybody gets something different out of it, either through producing art, participating in art, or viewing art. The arts relax, heal, and unite us. They are social and bring everybody together. No matter what your job is or what your abilities are, everybody can engage with the arts at some level. They make us who we are as a society and culture.

DCA: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Arts4All Florida?

Jennifer: If there are any organizations that want to help the arts become more inclusive and accessible, please contact us! We are here as a state service organization to help you.

For more information about Arts4All Florida, visit their website at: http://vsafl.org.

The Division thanks Jennifer Sabo, Executive Director at Arts4All Florida, for her gracious participation in this interview.  

Grantee Spotlight: Art and Culture Center/Hollywood ‘Arts Aspire’ Programs

Provided by Art and Culture Center/Hollywood

Arts Aspire Summer Group

Founded in 1975, Art and Culture Center/Hollywood is a thriving cultural institution in Broward County, providing diverse and comprehensive programming in the visual arts, theater, music and dance. Throughout the center’s more than 40-year history, their programming has evolved to include comprehensive education programs, partnerships with other South Florida cultural institutions, and a wide variety of special events.

Education CampSince 2003, Art and Culture Center/Hollywood has dramatically expanded their education initiatives to include both summer and year-round programming for children, teens, and adults. They also have a successful Distance Learning program, which has provided arts education broadcasts to nearly 14,000 Broward County students since its inception.

Ramson Sound BoardOne of their programs for teens, Arts Aspire, is a three-tier pyramid of defined, hands-on activities that promote strong leadership as well as college and career readiness for students and young adults ages 14-21. The program grew out of the Center’s thriving summer performing arts camps. It became evident to the education staff that as the campers were growing older, they were becoming interested not only in performing but in everything that was happening behind the scenes to support the productions. As a result, several interested students were invited to participate in an informal apprenticeship with the camps, exploring set design, lighting, and sound engineering, as well as leadership and business skills.

Peter Pan Set Painting

 

The opportunity to explore multiple facets of production was extremely popular with the students, and as a result, the apprenticeships were formalized into an application-based ‘Ambassador’ Program. A year-round version of the program was added soon after and then expanded last year to include a more comprehensive experience at multiple levels. The program now offers three tiers of participation, for different age ranges:

  • Teen Arts Ambassadors (ages 14-18), which offers leadership and professional training through monthly meetings and workshops, participation in a community-based outreach project, and work-place experiences and community service hours at the Center
  • Arts Associates (ages 17-18), which offers project-based training through shadowing, observing, and hands-on experiences in marketing, events, and education initiatives at the Center
  • Arts Apprentices (ages 18-21), which offers an internship-based training program in the areas of education, marketing, grant development, curriculum development, multimedia design, and events at the Center

Jas MakeupStudents participating at all levels not only gain valuable work experience, but receive hands-on training in 21st-century leadership skills that are transferrable to any occupation. Arts Associates and Arts Apprentices are even paid for their work, providing many students with their very first formalized work experiences in an environment in which they are already comfortable. The Center selects up to 5 students each year as Arts Apprentices, 3-5 Associates, and around 20 Arts Ambassadors, with most spots available during the summer months. Many past participants have gone on to work in similar fields at other organizations or in college.

Set Design

To learn more about Art and Culture Center/Hollywood and Arts Aspire, visit their website at: https://artandculturecenter.org/.


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

 

Grantee Spotlight: ‘W.O.N.D.E.R. in the Garden’ at Naples Botanical Garden

Provided by Naples Botanical Garden

06142018__WONDER_05Founded in 1993 by a visionary group of local plant enthusiasts, Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre, world-class garden paradise that features plants from around the world. In 2017, Naples Botanical Garden became the youngest garden in history to receive the prestigious Award for Garden Excellence from the American Public Gardens Association. They are steadfastly committed to their local community, to award-winning horticultural design, and to comprehensive approaches to sustainability. The garden welcomes over 220,000 visitors per year in their themed gardens that include an orchid garden, a water garden, and a children’s garden, among many others.

06142018__WONDER_02Naples Botanical Garden presents their year-round W.O.N.D.E.R. in the Garden program, which began in July 2010. An informal educational drop-in family activity for children of all ages, W.O.N.D.E.R. is an acronym for “walk, observe, navigate, discover, explore, read.” The fun and engaging lessons are based on a monthly theme such as:

  • Super Seeds – discover the magic of seeds as we discuss where they come from, where they go, and what they need to grow; then, plant a seed to care for at home!
  • Little Green Thumbs – learn how we take care of our vegetables, herbs, flowers, and more; then, find out how to grow plants from cuttings take home a piece of the Garden!
  • Tremendous Trees – count the rings in a tree cookie, read stories, and plant a tree-mendous tree to take home!
  • Feathered Friends – explore feathers up-close and create binoculars to search out birds on the fly; then plant some Florida-native fiddlewood seeds to take home!

The program typically includes a story about the month’s theme and hands-on activities, experiments, art, and planting projects related to that theme. Visitors are invited to imagine, create, and explore together at 10:30 am in the Garden. W.O.N.D.E.R. is available daily during the season in locations throughout the Gardens. No prior registration is necessary for this educational nature-based programming and is included with regular Garden admission.

WONDER1The program is appropriate for families with children of all ages, from toddlers to teens, and approximately 9,000 children and families have participated in the program since its inception.

To learn more about Naples Botanical Garden and the W.O.N.D.E.R. in the Garden program, visit http://naplesgarden.org.


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

Grantee Spotlight: Making Light Productions Takes An Inclusive Cast ‘Under The Rainbow’

Provided by Making Light Productions

“I found you in the eye of a hurricane…” Those are the first words of the theme song of “Under the Rainbow: The Musical,” an original one-hour musical production created by Making Light Productions and debuting at the Florida Theatre Conference at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL, this week.  “When we started this process months ago,” said Mandi Broadfoot, Managing Director and lyricist/book writer on the show, “we certainly didn’t realize that we would be conducting our final rehearsals in the wake of Hurricane Michael.”

UTRCASTMaking Light is taking an inclusive cast — including both “neurotypical” kids and those with special needs — to the FTC’s Inclusion Festival this year.  “The story of the musical is about acceptance and how differences make us stronger,” explained MLP executive director Juliet Yaques. “We are really excited to showcase, to our peers in the Florida arts community, how beautiful inclusion can look and sound.”

UTRBATMaking Light Productions is a Tallahassee-based non-profit organization with the mission of providing an inclusive performing arts education for children of all abilities, as well as providing job opportunities for adults with disabilities. “We began with just 21 kids in the converted garage of my Tallahassee home in 2016,” says Broadfoot.  “And the demand for inclusive arts has grown to the extent – over 550 registrations in the past year – that we’ve outgrown locations twice now!”

Founded in July of 2016, by Broadfoot and Yaques — both mothers of children with autism — Making Light has been located in downtown Tallahassee since 2017 and just purchased a new 8,300-square foot building on Blairstone Road in Tallahassee, which will become its new headquarters in January 2019. While the inclusive performing arts school is thriving, the new location will allow Making Light to fulfill the final arm of its mission: providing jobs for teens and adults with disabilities at an on-site thrift store, “Making a Scene.”

UTR_RehearsalBeginsAfter renovations, the new Making Light headquarters will also house a real on-site community theatre, explains Yaques.  “Performance space has been a real challenge for us,” she said. “It is for all arts organizations in the area. But our challenges are unique.”  She explained that children with special needs are often overwhelmed by new locations and take time to grow accustomed to the sights, sounds, even smells of a new room.  “Some of our kids can’t participate in a piano recital or a theatre production if they have to do it in a brand new, rented location that they’ve only seen once before the show.”  Having an on-site performance space, she said, will allow Making Light students to rehearse and perform in the same location, ensuring complete inclusion.

“Under the Rainbow: The Musical” was written by Broadfoot, Yaques and composer Jeb Bodiford. The production is sponsored by First Commerce Credit Union, Tallahassee Leon Federal Credit Union, Mainline Information Systems, the Community Thrift Market, Wells Fargo and a Fast Track grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

THISISMEMaking Light Productions’ inclusive cast of “Under the Rainbow” took the stage at Santa Fe College in Gainesville on Thursday, October 25, at 3:00 PM.   The cast will also perform the show at Theatre Tallahassee on January 5-6, 2019. Tickets can be purchased at UndertheRainbowMusical.com.

Find out more about Making Light Productions and its inclusive programs at MakingLightProductions.org.


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

Grantee Spotlight: Orlando Shakes Goes Above and Beyond with ‘The Jungle Book’

Provided by Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF

The Jungle Book - OS1


Carlos Pereyo as Baloo and Terence Lee as Mowgli (photo by Megan Pridemore)

Orlando Shakes’ production of The Jungle Book is a retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale and will take audiences on a thrilling journey through the Indian jungle! Taken in by Mother Wolf as a baby, Mowgli, a now 11-year-old boy, has grown to know the Jungle Law and the ways of the wild. April-Dawn Gladu’s adaptation follows Mowgli and his pack of animal friends as they try to outsmart a cunning tiger who is seeking to settle an old score.

Honoring the culture in which the story takes place, “the costumes in this production are a celebration of traditional Indian dress and even include fabrics sourced from India,” says Costume Designer Mel Barger. “Our characters, like Bagheera and Shere Khan, are costumed in modified kurtas to match the silhouette of the animal they portray.”

The Jungle Book - OS4

Andy Hansen as Kaa (photo by Megan Pridemore)

Orlando Shakes is going above and beyond to ensure that children of all ages, abilities, and locations can experience the magic of theater. In addition to sensory-friendly and ASL-interpreted performances, Orlando Shakes will be live-streaming two performances of The Jungle Book to schools outside of Orange County. Immediately following the fifty-minute live performance, students will participate in a digital live chat with the cast, hearing the answers to their questions in real time. In order to further align the event to the school curriculum, Orlando Shakes is providing a study guide with discussion topics and extension activities that align to Florida Standards normally covered during November in 2nd-5th grade.

 

“By live streaming our performances, we are reaching a whole new audience and enriching the lives of students beyond the Central Florida community,” says Anne Hering, director of education at Orlando Shakes. “Even if a school doesn’t have access to field trip funding or a live theater in their community, their students can still have a performing arts experience. ”

Schools can apply to live-stream the event at http://orlandoshakes.org/streaming. Schools must apply by November 1, 2018. This event is recommended for students in 2nd-5th grade.

ABOUT ORLANDO SHAKES

The Jungle Book - OS2

Andy Hansen, Carlos Pereyo, and Terence Lee (photo by Megan Pridemore)

Celebrating its 30th Season, Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF, produces classic, contemporary, and children’s plays. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Managing Director PJ Albert, Orlando Shakes is one of the region’s most acclaimed professional theaters, garnering national recognition from The Wall Street Journal, “Spectacular and satisfying…Broadway-quality…impressive…come to Florida and plunge yourself in…” 

With ambitious, high-caliber productions like 2018’s Twelfth Night and Shakespeare in Love, and 2017’s The Great Gatsby and Man of La Mancha, the Theater continues to provide an innovative world-class theatrical experience to its guests, while showcasing William Shakespeare’s legacy as the cornerstone of the company. Orlando Shakes also offers immersive educational programming that serves Central Florida schools and the local community at large.

ABOUT THE JUNGLE BOOK

The Jungle Book adapted by April-Dawn Gladu, produced by Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF, appears in the Margeson Theater from October 18 – November 16, 2018.

The Jungle Book - OS3

Terence Lee (photo by Megan Pridemore)

The Jungle Book features Ana Martinez Medina as Raksha-Mother Wolf/Ensemble, Amanda Anne Dayton as Bandar Queen/Ensemble, Carlos Pereyo as Baloo/Ensemble, Terence Lee as Mowgli/Ensemble, Andy Hansen as Kaa/Ensemble, Mandi Lee as Messua/Ensemble and Daniel James Roth as Chil/Ensemble.

The Orlando Shakes artistic team includes Director Steve MacKinnon, Set Designer Vandy Wood, Lighting Designer Philip Lupo, Costume Designer Mel Barger, Sound Designer Britt Sandusky, ASL Coordinator Mandy Longo and Stage Manager Alyssa Zegers.

The Jungle Book is sponsored by Dr. Mary Palmer, Publix Supermarket Charities, and Florida Hospital for Children. The live stream program is made possible by the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation.

Orlando Shakes is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of OrlandoAtPlay.com and UAArtsEd.com. This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.

For more information, visit orlandoshakes.org.


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