Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Nancy Turrell

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 Nancy Turrell. Nancy was appointed to the council in October 2017 by Senate President Negron.


NT martiesDCA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nancy: I am resident of Stuart, Florida, one of Florida’s great and growing small arts towns. I have been fortunate to serve as the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Martin County since April 1999…nearly 20 years. My educational background includes a Master of Arts in Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from New York University.

I am not an artist; however, I had opportunities as a young person growing up to be involved in the performing arts.  I played the lead role in our fifth-grade class play, “The Murder at Mother Goose’s House.” Starting in sixth grade, I began playing the flute and in seventh joined the choir, both of which I continued through my senior year in high school. Through my participation on a nationally competitive synchronized swimming team I gained an appreciation of classical music and choreography.

I am a lover of the arts. I was raised to attend concerts, go to museums, and love to be in the audience. In the past I’ve served as a board member of the Lyric Theatre and as an advisory member for Florida Arts and Dance Company.

While attending NYU, I was introduced to arts administration. During my senior year, I had an internship with the Cooper Hewitt Museum, a part of the Smithsonian Institute. I was placed in the development office and was soon covering for the membership director who went on maternity leave. My continuing love of Alexander Calder’s artwork was born there, as I was tasked with the job of translating his titles from French to English.  This was a great early lesson on the many hats an employee of an arts organization wears.  When I moved to California after college, I sought a position in an arts institution but was repeatedly told that without an arts background they weren’t interested. Needing a job, I secured a temporary position with United Way of Los Angeles County and went to work. Shortly thereafter, I found my way to Stuart in 1990, and United Way of Martin County.  When Mary Shaw (my predecessor) retired from the Arts Council in 1999, I jumped at the chance to get back to my roots in arts administration.

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

Nancy: Communities across the state would be lifeless places without the spice and variety that arts and culture infuse. Florida’s most popular tourist attractions are firmly based in creativity; this industry depends on people gaining a solid education rooted in creativity and the arts.  This builds Florida’s economy, its people and culture and our shared experience as Floridians.

The arts are a vehicle to bring together people of vastly different life experiences. Today, we need to have more things that bring us together rather than split us apart. Too many societal issues challenge us and create divisiveness, where shared arts experiences bring people and communities together. This may be our most important role in “Culture Builds Florida” as we look back years from now at the legacy that is created by our actions today.

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

Nancy: I am inspired to build our audiences for future generations to come. I have said for many years that the goal of our arts education programs and outreach efforts isn’t really to build future artists, but rather to create an understanding and appreciation of the arts that leads to a passion for the arts.  Without an audience an artist has no purpose and our lives would be so very boring and uninteresting.

The joy that the arts brings into our lives can not go without mention. For me, the arts have created many happy memories and cherished moments.

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

Nancy: I hope to change the tide of funding for the arts across the state through advocacy. I am a firm believer in the validity of the state grant process.  Having a leadership opportunity to speak out on behalf of the process and its transparency is a privilege. Being appointed to the Florida Council on Arts and Culture gives me a voice that I didn’t have before.  As the director of a small organization in a community where not many organizations receive grants, my hope is to increase the number of grant applications through the Division of Cultural Affairs from my region, the Treasure Coast.  Receiving these grant funds will further strengthen the case for the investment of state funds in local arts organizations.

Culture in Florida: October 2018

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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 to a special Halloween edition of Culture In Florida! Many organizations got spooky and kooky with arts and culture this month. The Imperial Symphony also hosted Lakeland’s own rock band Copeland in a unique concert, Tampa’s Spanish Lyric Theatre celebrated the beginning of their 60th anniversary season, and Zoo Miami’s newest baby pygmy hippo made his debut. 

Here’s a glimpse into arts and culture throughout Florida during the month of October:

National News of Note

October marked National Arts and Humanities Month. Celebrated by Americans for the Arts for more than 30 years, NAHM is an opportunity to focus on the arts at local, state, and national levels, to encourage individuals and organizations to participate in the arts; to allow governments and businesses to show their support of the arts, and to raise public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives. Learn more by clicking the link above. 

Featured Festivals

In Tampa, the Florida Aquarium hosted Brews By The Bay, which featured beer and food samplings, live entertainment, and a silent disco throughout its exhibits. In Green Cove Springs, the CalaVida Arts Festival brought dozens of visual and performing arts experiences to the small town on the majestic St. John’s River. Jazz festivals were held in Clearwater and Amelia Island, and downtown Orlando was transformed into a dynamic outdoor performance venue for IMMERSE 2018, facilitated by the Creative City Project.

The arts were on wide display in St. Petersburg, which hosted their annual Festival of the Arts, featuring pop-up performances, theatre, dance, music, culinary experiences, family-friendly events, and performances by local arts organizations. St. Pete also held the SHINE Mural Festival, an initiative that “illuminates the power of art in public spaces by revitalizing areas, inspiring dialogue, and uniting our community–while cultivating new standards of artistic excellence and reflecting St. Petersburg’s creative and vibrant spirit”.

Artis-Naples enjoyed the international spotlight with the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Naples International Film Festival. This four day festival featured a diverse range of films and events. Jacksonville’s Cummer Museum and Gardens, in partnership with the City of Jacksonville’s Environmental Protection Board, hosted their third annual Envirofest, a family-friendly festival centered on raising environmental awareness through the arts. In Delray Beach, Morikami Museum and Gardens hosted their hugely popular Lantern Festival, which featured Japanese folk-dancing, drumming, an Ennichi street fair, and lantern floating ceremony.

Openings and Closings  

Naples Botanical Garden opened “Reflections on Glass: Fräbel in the Garden”, which “brings a collection of whimsical sculptures and installations by flamework glass artist Hans Godo Fräbel to Naples for the first time. The exhibition features botanical pieces, playful figures, and ornate geometric shapes. Palm Beach’s Old School Square opened “Tech Effect”, on view through February 2019, an exhibit that explores how technology has influenced contemporary art through augmented reality, immersive gallery installations, and interactive artwork. Daytona Beach’s Museum of Arts and Sciences hosted a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian called “100 Faces of War”. The exhibition features 100 oil portraits of American veterans.

Art Center South Florida opened “Parallels and Peripheries”, a series that “investigates how eight artists create work constructed from narratives, myths, and memories that shape personal, political and societal identities”. Studios of Key West revisited Thomas Filipkowski’s popular 2013 project, “Heads Up Key West”, which featured photographs of 600 faces from the community. 2018’s “Heads Up Key West: Then and Now” explores changes caused by time and circumstance and “the reality of what it means to live in paradise”. Sarasota’s Selby Botanical Gardens is celebrating orchids in their many froms from October 12 through November 25. Never-before-seen displays of orchids that celebrate the “plant family’s dramatic diversity of colors, shapes, and scents” are featured. 

Halloween-Themed Events

Dozens of arts and cultural organizations embraced the halloween spirit this month. Alachua County’s Matheson History Museum offered a one-of-a-kind immersive theatre experience called “Halloween Moon Rising” and Orange County’s Enzian Theatre showcased a series of 13 scary movies and events throughout the month. In Broward County, Slow Burn Theatre Company reprised their popular 2017 event called “The Silver Scream”, which incorporates extravagant productions, a haunted walk-through, live music and entertainment, and food and drink that pay homage to classic horror icons such as Dracula, Frankenstein, the Werewolf of London, and the Mummy.

In Tallahassee, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra performed their 4th annual “Symphony Spooktacular”, a free event featuring trick-or-treating and live music by costumed symphony members and the Tallahassee Museum held their 24th annual “Halloween Howl” featuring haunted trails, family-friendly activities, trick-or-treating, carnival games, and a costume contest.

St. Petersburg’s Studio @620 featured an exhibit called “The Unseen” which explored signs, symbols, and apparitions from “the beyond” using visual, theatrical, and optical art, and the Amelia Island Museum of History featured a special “Halloween Ghouls and Goblets Tour”. Visitors explored the streets of Fernandina, stopping along the way for stories and spirits. Miami’s Frost Science Museum enhanced their ongoing exhibit “Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence” through interactive experiences and recreative environments at their “Spooky Science Monster Mash”, which featured underwater pumpkin carving, zombie biology, owl and snake encounters, halloween music, and more.

Upcoming in November

Film festivals in Miami and Key West, Foo Foo Fest in Pensacola, and National Opera Week nationwide.


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. 

Culture In Florida: September 2018

culture-in-floridaCulture 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 in Florida. Throughout the state, many organizations kicked off their 2018-2019 seasons and we celebrated the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Here is just a taste of all of the wonderful arts and culture activities and events throughout the state this month:

Underwater Museum of Art Named to Time’s World’s Greatest Places

Walton County’s Underwater Museum of Art was named to Time Magazine’s inaugural list of the World’s Greatest Places, a list highlighting 100 destinations that offer extraordinary experiences to visitors. The museum is the first endeavor of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County’s Art in Public Spaces program and opened in June 2018 with the installation of seven underwater sculptures in the Gulf of Mexico off of Grayton Beach State Park in South Walton, Florida. The museum is free of charge to adventurous divers, and photos and videos are available online for those wishing to view the museum from dry land.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Florida celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. This year’s featured artist is Juan “One” Sepúlveda, a Kissimmee-based painter whose works are included in museum collections nationally and internationally. Sepúlveda was born in Puerto Rico and has called Florida home since 1999. Learn more about Juan and Florida’s statewide Hispanic Heritage Month events and initiatives here.

Season Kick-Off Events

Over 100 arts and cultural organizations in Miami celebrated the arts and kicked off their seasons at Arts Launch 2018, an annual event hosted by the Adrienne Arsht Center. This free event included family activities, mini performances, chef demonstrations, tours, and more. In Brevard County, the King Center hosted their annual Cultural Arts Showcase, featuring art displays, cultural demonstrations, family activities and a free concert by the Brevard Symphony Orchestra.

The Florida Orchestra kicked-off their season with an exciting weekend of pop-up concerts in unexpected locations around Tampa Bay and the Bach Festival of Winter Park celebrated the first concert of their season on September 20 with the program Insights & Sounds: Harp and Strings. 

The Orchestra and Friends

The Orlando Museum of Art teamed up with musicians from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to present a special Symphony Storytime series. Art, music, and storytelling combined to consider the lessons presented in artist Jon J. Muth’s The Three Questions,  which is based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy. In Lee County, Gulf Coast Symphony teamed up with the Gulf Coast Humane Society and the Alliance for the Arts for “Animals and the Arts”, an event celebrating our furry friends through a variety of media. The event featured a juried art exhibition, live music, and an educational documentary film.

Openings and Closings

Locust Projects undertook their ambitious 20/20 event, where 20 artists presented 20 projects over 20 hours. Each newly commissioned work was given a one-hour temporary exhibition over the course of twenty consecutive hours. This marathon event was in celebration of Locust Projects’ 20th anniversary year.

In Jacksonville, the Museum of Science and History opened Neighborhoods, an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of Jacksonville’s consolidation and celebrating Jacksonville’s many diverse neighborhoods. In Lakeland, the Polk Museum of Art opened Chagall: Stories Into Dreams, the only exhibit of its kind in Florida, which pairs Chagall’s Fables of La Fontaine etchings (1952) with his Story of Exodus lithographs.

Lake Wales Arts Council opened their first exhibit of the year, Trumpets on Parade, and Winter Garden’s Crealdé School of Art opened Vibrant Vision: African Diaspora and African Artists, a 40-year effort of Charleston-based collectors, Jonathan Green and Richard Weedman that “offers a deep look into diverse cultural influences that have shaped American art over the past hundred years”.

Broward County’s ArtServe celebrated South Florida’s rich Brazilian population and honored Brazilian Independence Day with ArtBrazil, an annual multimedia contemporary art fair, and guests at Miami’s Frost Museum of Science explored the power of the sun as a renewable source of energy through solar-powered interactive activities exhibited as part of The Sun Spot, which opened September 1.

Maitland’s Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida presented Heroes of Warsaw, a collection of illustrations by Bill Farnsworth highlighting the courage and bravery of Irena Sendler and Janusz Korczak. This exhibit marks the first time that this entire collection has been displayed. In Hollywood, the Florida Biennial 2018 opened on September 14 at Art and Culture Center Hollywood. This year’s exhibition features 68 works by 30 artists, selected from over 2000 submissions from 291 artists living in 85 different cities throughout Florida.

Broward County’s Young at Art Museum closed their exhibit Saturday Morning Cartoons on September 23 and Astronomy Photographer of the Year at Vero Beach Museum of Art wrapped up on September 16. Miami Beach’s Bass Museum closed their exhibit featuring the Deste Fashion Collection and Osceola County Historical Society concluded Totally Tots!, which celebrated childhood.

Featured Festivals

Tallahassee’s Theater With A Mission held their Loco for Love festival, a four-day event featuring live music, dance, theater, and family activities, Miami’s Opera Atelier presented a series of cultural events celebrating the art of Bel Canto, and the newly-formed Tap Dance Ambassadors of Florida celebrated the first Dunedin Tap Dance Festival.  

Upcoming in October

The Spanish Lyric Theatre celebrates 60 years; jazz festivals in Clearwater and Amelia Island; halloween-themed events at the Enzian Theatre, Slow Burn Theatre Company, and the Matheson History Museum


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2. Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion. 

Art Talk: Katchen Duncan and Bahama Village Music Program

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© Ralph de Palma Photography

Bahama Village Music Program is a community music education program that has been serving the Key West area of Bahama Village since 1999. The program is dedicated to giving underpriveleged kids the gift of music. We chatted with BVMP’s executive director, Katchen Duncan, to learn more about the program and its impact on its community. 

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tell us a little about the history and founding of Bahama Village Music Program.

Katchen: Bahama Village Music Program was founded in 1999 following the retirement of beloved Bahama Village piano teacher Ellen Sanchez.  Robin Kaplan, the program founder, recognized the void in the neighborhood and founded BVMP in a storage room off the stage in the Frederick Douglass Gym with a few student teachers and a dozen students. Students showed up whether it was time for their lessons or not, and it was soon realized that this was really something the neighborhood and the community at large needed.  

DCA: What is unique about the population that BVMP serves?

Katchen: BVMP’s student population is very diverse, with students from all walks of life mingling together in ensemble classes and workshops.  BVMP mainly serves low income at risk youth but any child is allowed to participate. Still, over 80% of our student’s families report an income under the ALICE level.  Many of our students are first generation americans, and some are the only english speaking members of their families.  A really unique aspect of BVMP is the student teacher model, BVMP students become teachers when they reach high school offering not only after school employment but also something to work towards!  Having the goal of becoming a student teacher inspires our students to work hard on their practicing and musicality.

DCA: What types of programs does BVMP offer?

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© Ralph de Palma Photography 

Katchen: BVMP offers individual lessons in piano, guitar, drums, woodwinds, brass and strings.  We also offer ensemble classes in music theory, composition, choir, a cappella, ukulele, school of rock, violin, dance, steel pan and musical theater. Through our partnership with the local school district we were able to expand our programming to offer classes before and after school at our city’s largest elementary and middle school. These popular programs have received much support from the community as the local school had cut music programs from their curriculum.

DCA: How many students are involved in BVMP programs?

Katchen: Over 175 students participate in lessons or ensemble classes at our main location with over 50 students participating at the local school we have partnered with. Over 225 students a week receive free music lessons!

DCA: You just wrapped up your third year of summer programming. Tell us about it.

Katchen: Our BVMP summer camp is the best! The campers have so much fun and really learn a ton in such an immersive environment.  Having the students for 8 hours a day five days a week really ups their musicianship and creativity.  The amazing results are evident!  Our songwriting class wrote 10 different songs!  Our ukulele class learned how to fingerpick in six weeks!  The end of summer recital brought the house down.

DCA: What is the best part about your job?

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© Ralph de Palma Photography 

Katchen: The best part of my job is the kids.  When they spill off the bus at the end of the day so excited to see you and get started on their music lessons, you realize you’re doing exactly the right thing.  They inspire us more than they know.  It’s even better when adult students come back and tell you how much their time at BVMP meant to them. After almost 20 years, we are starting to teach the second generation of BVMP students!

 

 

DCA: What are your hopes for BVMP in the future?

Katchen: I hope that we can continue to give the gift of music for many years to come! We are looking forward to celebrating 20 years of free music education next year and I barely believe that we’ve made it this far!

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

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© Ralph de Palma Photography

Katchen: Culture and art are the building blocks for a great society.  Many ancient philosophers saw this and we have all seen it to be true through our local art programs and cultural events.  These are the things that make each community unique and inspiring.  At BVMP we tout the benefits of music education on the individual; increased cognitive development, better scores on tests, enhanced problem solving skills.  But we know that putting the ideas and feelings of making music, collaborating with others without words, expressing emotions through playing and listening, make our students better human beings. More connected to their community and themselves, art and culture make everyone strive to be better and create things to make our world better.

The DCA thanks Katchen Duncan, executive director, for her participation in this post. To learn more about Bahama Village Music Program, visit: http://www.bvmpkw.org/.

Grantee Spotlight: MOCA Jacksonville ‘Art Aviators’

Provided by MOCA Jacksonville

MOCA JAX 3Founded in 1924 as the Jacksonville Fine Arts Society, MOCA Jacksonville is a private nonprofit visual arts educational institution and cultural institute of the University of North Florida. MOCA Jacksonville serves the community and its visitors through its mission to promote the discovery, knowledge and advancement of the art, artists and ideas MOCA JAX 2of our time.

For over a decade, MOCA Jacksonville has served the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community in Northeast Florida with its pioneering Art Aviators program. Formerly known as Rainbow Artists, the program began when a museum educator with a personal interest in working with children with special needs hosted a series of Saturday workshops for children with ASD. Art-making activities enable children with ASD to foster new means of self-expression and communication.

MOCA JAX 1Since its inception in 2017, Art Aviators has served hundreds of children throughout the region. From 2008 to 2015, Art Aviators was implemented in Duval County schools, and the curriculum was also adopted by the Coral Springs Museum of Art in South Florida.  Today, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville offers free monthly workshops for families of the ASD community to enjoy as well as free spring and summer art camps. Art Aviators harnesses art as a powerful proven means of promoting expression and social interaction among children with ASD and their teachers, caregivers, and peers.  It is our hope to be able to export this exciting curriculum to museums and organizations nationally to give them a resource to serve the ASD families in their communities.

For more information about MOCA Jacksonville and Art Aviators, visit their website at: http://mocajacksonville.unf.edu.


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

 

 

Culture In Florida: August 2018

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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.

August was a busy month for arts and culture in Florida! As summer activities wrapped up and kids headed back to school, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King visited St. Petersburg’s Studio 620 to celebrate the release of his newest book, Panama City’s Martin Theatre held a Mel Brooks retrospective, and Zoo Miami celebrated the birth of a baby pygmy hippo! Here are a few other highlights from around the state:

Short Plays, New Musicals, Opera, and a Lipsync Battle

In Fort Lauderdale, the teens of the Broward ARTrepreneurs program debuted eight original one-act plays over two nights. This free program, introduced by ArtServe in 2013, allows up to ten talented teens instruction in artistic development and production, which culminates with the two-night Short Play Festival.  In Winter Park, six brand-new musicals were showcased at the 2nd Annual Florida Festival of New Musicals at the Winter Park Playhouse. Palm Beach Opera hosted their second Summer Opera Night, featuring food trucks, trivia, and interactive games alongside a world-class performance from bass-baritone Neil Nelson. Osceola Arts hosted their 3rd annual Lipsync Battle to help support their youth arts education programs.

Openings and Closings

In Orlando, Mennello Museum of American Art opened “Our Orlando: Making Sense of Our World”, featuring local artists on the rise each considering how we relate to our world; Gainesville’s Matheson History Museum opened “Gators and Beyond: a Sports History of Alachua County”; Miami’s Bakehouse Art Complex featured works of resident artist Alejandra Suarez in “Atmospheric Perspective”, a look at “imagined landscapes through impaired perspectives”; and Tallahassee’s Florida Historic Capitol Museum opened its final exhibit commemorating the decision to save the Historic Capitol, “Demo by Design”.

Miami Beach’s Bass Museum announced the acquisition of major contemporary works by artists Sanford Biggers, Mark Handforth, Karen Rifas, Mika Rottenberg, and Lawrence Weiner, representing the museum’s commitment to local and international contemporary art.

The invitational exhibition of works from the fifth annual Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at the Orlando Museum of Art closed on August 19. This years’ winner was multimedia artist Kenya (Robinson), who was raised in Gainesville. The People’s Choice Award was given to Carlos Betancourt, who has lived and worked in Miami since 1981.

Science Through the Ages at Pensacola MESS Hall also closed on August 19. Visitors were offered a unique opportunity to explore the history of scientific discovery through workshops, MESS kits, and other hands-on experiences.

Featured Festivals

IFÉ-ILÉ Afro-Cuban Dance Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary with many exciting events including dance workshops in various afro-cuban styles, a week-long children’s camp, a performance parade, and an academic conference on Cuban dancing. The festival celebrates Miami’s large Afro-Cuban population and various dance traditions that share African roots.

Bok Tower Gardens honored “summer’s most popular plant”, the caladium, with a month long Caladium Festival. Events included a special caladium trail highlighting over 20 different varieties and a series of plant education workshops. 

Brevard Zoo also hosted a Bonsai Weekend which featured dozens of miniature trees on display and included bonsai care demonstrations and workshops.

Upcoming in September

20/20 at Locust Projects, an ambitious, 20-hour, rotating exhibition by 20 different artists; ArtsLaunch 2018, Miami’s arts season kick-off celebration; Women in Science Conference at Emerald Coast Science Center; State of the Arts 2018 at Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville; Global Peace Film Festival in Winter Park. 


Have an event you’d like to see featured as part of this blog series? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/rNFpweK1euL3y9YH2.

Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Heather Mayo

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 the council’s newest member, Heather Mayo. Heather was appointed to the council in April 2018 by House Speaker Corcoran. 


Heather Mayo - HeadshotDCA: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Heather: I am a Tallahassee, Florida born-and-raised resident who has a great love for the arts. The arts have always played an integral role in my life, and my involvement in the arts began at a very young age when my mother, a ballet instructor enrolled me in dance lessons at the age of three. At seven years old, I picked up the guitar for the first time and discovered my passion for music. Throughout the years, I have played various genres on the guitar but mainly focused on studying the styles of classical and jazz guitar during my studies as an undergraduate student at the Florida State University College of Music. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music in 2006, I worked at a prominent recording studio on music row in Nashville, TN and learned various aspects of the music business. Four years later, I decided to return to FSU to pursue a Masters in Arts Administration and to dedicate my career to working as an arts administrator in the non-profit arts sector.

Currently, I have the privilege of working for Florida State University as the Assistant Director of Production and Community Engagement within our College of Music. In my position, I help oversee our performance hall production coordination and assist in various outreach, engagement and entrepreneurial activities of the College. As a volunteer, I am currently serving as the Immediate Past-President of the Friends of Dance Council within the College of Fine Arts at Florida State University, and I am also serving as a 2018 Catalyst with the Knight Creative Communities Institute in Tallahassee.

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

Heather: When I hear “Culture Builds Florida”, I think of economic growth and social impact. In the most recent Arts and Economic Prosperity study conducted by Americans for the Arts, it was found that the arts and culture sector is a $4.68 billion industry in Florida. The arts and culture industry in our state supports 132,366 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $492.3 million in local and state government revenue [1] In my hometown of Leon County, FL the nonprofits arts and culture sector is a $201.9 million industry which supports 7,161 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $26.6 million in local and state government revenue.[2]  To me, these numbers prove that the “Arts Mean Business!” The arts support job growth, generate government revenue and attract cultural tourism in our state.

In addition to impacting our state’s economy, arts and culture contribute in countless ways to the well-being of our state by making a social impact in our everyday lives. The arts enable us to uphold our cultural identity as Floridians but also keep us moving forward in innovative ways that are relevant. Arts and culture celebrate diversity and inclusion by bringing people together under one purpose. They enable us to express ourselves, our feelings, and our beliefs creatively. They help us heal; they contribute to our health and wellness. They are vital to the education of our children. They allow us to reflect on our society, on world issues and on our own lives in meaningful ways.

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

Heather: For me, the most inspiring part about working in the arts is the opportunity I have to work in an industry that makes a difference in people’s lives through a creative process. The best example of this in my own world is witnessing a performance come to fruition after our team has spent months preparing for its premiere. There is so much behind-the-scenes work that goes into each production, but the most rewarding part is to see it all come together successfully. Some of my most favorite moments are when I stand in the back of the concert hall and witness the joyful impact the performance is having on an audience member’s life. I often think to myself, “Wow, we helped create this moment for them!” Those are the times I feel most inspired.

Another aspect I love about working in the arts are the relationships that are made along the way. On a daily basis, I get to work with a fantastic team of colleagues who inspire me to be more excellent in everything I do. I also have the wonderful opportunity to work with multiple artists at the local, national and international level. Through these relationships, I have seen the power in collaboration and how we can spur on each other to new creative heights.

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

Heather: First and foremost I hope to support the mission of the Department of State and the Division of Cultural Affairs through my service on this council. I genuinely believe that state arts agencies are one of the most significant vehicles our country has to fulfill our public duty to the arts. By representing all interests of the state, the Division helps ensure that the economic, educational, and civic benefits of the arts are made available to all Floridians. For that, I am thankful for the work the Division is doing for us on a daily basis and look forward to supporting their efforts.

Alongside my fellow council members, I also hope to strengthen strategic partnerships and boost arts advocacy conversations with art constituents throughout the state. It’s no secret that we are living in a time in which advocating for the arts needs to be at the forefront of our daily lives. With this in mind, I hope we as art constituents can become familiar with the economic impact of the arts within our own immediate communities and that we can also be prepared to express how the arts enhance our quality of life. In turn, I hope that through these increased conversations, we can come together as an arts community and jointly make an impact in preserving the cultural heritage of our great State of Florida.

[1] http://dos.myflorida.com/media/698818/artseconomicprosperityfl.pdf

[2] https://coca.tallahasseearts.org/uploads/documents/COCA_Arts__Economic_Prosperity_Bklt_v2.pdf