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

 

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

culture-in-florida

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

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

bvmp 3

© 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?

bvmp 4

© 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?

bvmp 1

© 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?

bvmp 2

© 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.