Grantee Spotlight: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams

Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota has enjoyed an overwhelming response this year to its Picture4latest exhibition featuring the artist Marc Chagall’s nature-inspired artwork and personal effects. The immersive exhibition, Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams, introduced a new way of examining the artwork of the prolific artist. The exhibition opened February 12 and continued through July 31, 2017.

The six-month exhibition garnered record-breaking attendance numbers to this 15-acre bayfront botanical garden. The visitor experience included a glass house conservatory where reproductions of Chagall’s nature-inspired stained glass were displayed among living plants. Visitors also strolled  the grounds of the gardens which were enhanced with flora that evoked the south of France, the land that inspired Chagall and where he spent much of the later part of his life.

Additionally, the exhibition included Chagall’s masterwork painting The Lovers (1937), on loan fromthe Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and two additional paintings loaned from a private collector that have not been publicly exhibited before. Also on view were archival photos and personal effects from Chagall’s studio.

Accompanying cultural performances, special events, classes and lectures supported the exhibition, along with a French-inspired menu served at the on-site cafe.

Photos © Matthew Holler. / Stained glass © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York ADAGP, Paris

 

Grantee Spotlight: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s Stage of Discovery Summer Camp

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Dancer Derric Gobourne shows off his moves while other campers look on

Photos by Greg Kaspar

Actors, dancers and singers ages 13-18 took the stage with Sarasota’s Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe this summer after a successful pilot of the “Stage of Discovery” program last year. From June 12-July 16, WBTT presented the second installment of “Stage of Discovery,” an intensive summer musical theater program. The 23 participating teens were under the direction of WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs and Stage of Discovery coordinator Joey James. In addition, WBTT staff and guest instructors such as choreographers, actors and vocal coaches led sessions with students taking lessons in dance, acting, singing and improvisation as well as gaining behind-the-scenes experience with set and costume design. The program culminated with two public performances of Folktale Follies, an original musical showcasing the students’ talents, on July 14 and 16.

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Campers Tianna Harris and Daysha Brown receive dance instruction at Stage of Discovery summer camp

The camp, which was completely free, took place at the Westcoast Black Theatre in Sarasota. “Hands-on Discovery,” an optional post-camp theatre arts program offered further exploration in the visual arts, prop making, and costuming.

This program was underwritten by The Robert E. Dods Family Foundation and Designing Women Boutique, with additional funds raised at the recent WBTT April Fools’ Fete fundraiser.

“Many of these young people, while naturally talented, have never had any formal theater experience. We work them fairly hard – while having lots of fun – to bring their individual talents out and give them a basic understanding of the art of theatre,” said Jacobs. “While WBTT is dedicated to producing the finest dramatic and musical theatre, my dream – my true calling and purpose for founding this organization – has always been to help young aspiring artists who may otherwise be overlooked to develop their talents and have the opportunity to achieve success.”

When asked what she liked best about Stage of Discovery, 16-year-old Moenasia Beall said it was the people she got to know while they learned and performed together. “If it wasn’t for the camp, you wouldn’t get to meet so many people and you also get to discover yourself and talents that you didn’t know you had,” Beall said. “You discover that you can do it.”

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The teens of the 2017 Stage of Discovery summer musical theatre camp

The mission of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc., is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.

Postcards from NEA Secretary Jane Chu: Sketches of Florida

In addition to being an accomplished musician, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu is a skilled visual artist as well. As she travels the country on behalf of the NEA, Chairman Chu makes sketches of various locations, and graciously shares them with each State Arts Agency. She created some lovely artwork while in Florida and we are thrilled that she has allowed us to share them with you!

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Betsy Restaurant – Florida

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Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery

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New World Symphony in Miami Beach

Chairman Chu’s sketches should not be used for fundraising purposes or as an endorsement.

Artist Brian R. Owens Brings Windover Woman to Life

Today we’re featuring a story about a Florida artist, Brian R. Owens.

On November 13th, a newly revised exhibit opened at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science in Cocoa, FL, about one of the first groups of people in North America. The accidental discovery of a ceremonial burial ground in 1982 resulted in the unearthing of one of the largest and most well-preserved skeletal sites on the continent. The excavation reshaped our understanding of “archaic hunter-gatherers” and how they lived 7000 to 8000 years ago, about 3000 years before the “Great Pyramid”. They are called “Windover People”. Research is constantly ongoing as new technologies emerge to analyze the remains of 168 people. Over 10,000 bones and artifacts are preserved at Florida State University. The Museum commissioned Brian R. Owens to sculpt an artistic interpretation of one particular female based on her skull. It’s the centerpiece of the new exhibit. They call her the “Windover Woman”.

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Computer-generated image based on the bones of the Windover Woman

CBF: What did you have to work from?

Lots of detailed measurements of her skull but not the skull itself. I also had some computer-generated images that were made years ago on the basis of the skull. The remains included DNA but it’s so damaged that it is of little use. At least for now. Archeologists generally agree that she was descended from Asians.

CBF: How is an artistic interpretation different from a forensic sculpture? Continue reading

The Museum of Florida History Re-opens

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We’re so happy to announce that the Museum of Florida History re-opened this morning after being closed for seven months as part of the renovation project on the plaza level of the R. A. Gray Building. With the reopening of the Museum comes the completion of a fascinating new permanent exhibit, Forever Changed: La Florida, 1513–1821. Phase 1 of the Forever Changed exhibit opened in 2012 and featured the time period 1513–1565. The new exhibit explores a dynamic period in history—from the meeting and interaction of native and European cultures to Florida’s adoption as a United States territory.

Be sure to stop by the Museum when you’re in Tallahassee, and check out the Museum of Florida History webpage!

Spotlight On: Grant Season at the Division of Cultural Affairs

by Tim Storhoff

sizedcbf-dca-colorSummer is an extremely busy time here at the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, particularly with all the activities related to our grant programs. We have grant periods beginning and ending with the state’s fiscal year, which starts on July 1. This means that between June and September of every year we are actively working with three years of grants: the year that just ended, the year that is just getting started, and the next year (currently in the application review stage). These grants are an extremely important part of what we do, and we know that many arts and culture organizations from across the state depend on them to keep their programs up and running. Therefore I wanted to give you some insight into what’s going on and how we keep these grants moving and on track.

2012-2013: Finishing Up and Closing Out

The official period for 2012-2013 grants ended on June 30. There were 314 total grants given to organizations in 45 Florida counties for a total of $8,868,534. This amount included a $5 million appropriation by the state legislature for General Program Support and approximately $3.9 million for Cultural Facilities (no money was appropriated in 2012-2013 for Specific Cultural Projects). For a full record of awards by county, take a look at this list.

After organizations with General Program Support grants finish up their June events, they have until July 30 to fill out their final reports online. It typically takes Sarah, Maureen, and I (the program managers for these grants) until sometime in the fall to read through everything, but it’s great to be reminded of all the wonderful activities that these grants made possible. These reports allow us to see specifically how all the grant money was used and what overall impact it had in terms of individuals from the the community who participated. In addition to getting overall numbers, we’re interested in the number of youth, elders, and artists that took part in events throughout the year. While we often stress the economic impact of the arts with Culture Builds Florida, these participation numbers help show the significance of the arts in a way that goes beyond dollars and cents. The arts create important social connections between people when they attend performances, visit museums, and perhaps most importantly, collaborate to create art together.

Some of the organizations and events funded with 2012-2013 DCA grants.

Some of the organizations and events funded with 2012-2013 DCA grants.

2013-2014: Getting Started (or at least trying to)

With the previous year’s grants ending on June 30, the current year’s grant period is scheduled to begin right away on July 1. Organizations applied for 2013-2014 grants in spring 2012. After panel meetings, eligible scores were sent to the Florida Legislature via the Department of State’s Legislative Budget Request. The Legislature appropriated $5 million for General Program Support, fully funded Specific Cultural Projects with $830,523 and funded Cultural Facilities for $3,328,000. Along with Fast Track and State Touring grants, the state totals came to 351 grants in 47 counties for $9,350,322. For a full record of awards by county, take a look at this list.

Contracts for this year’s grants typically would have been mailed out in June so payments could be processed on July 1. However, a new bill passed by the 2013 Florida Legislature (HB 5401), requires that all contracts include new elements and go through a new approval process. As one of the first state agencies to deal with these new requirements, we’ve been proactive in collecting all the required information from each grantee for insertion into the contracts. Now we’re just waiting for approval to start sending out payments. In the end this bill will provide a useful resource to Florida’s taxpayers. They’ll be able to log onto a website and see exactly where state dollars are going and what they’re being spent on. After signing the bill, Governor Scott applauded the transparency it will provide, saying, “As taxpayers, we deserve to know if we are getting a return on investment for our money.” We’re confident that through arts and culture, Floridians are getting a positive return on investment as the economic impact of the arts is clear and show that Culture Builds Florida. We just wish it didn’t create a delay in getting funds out to our grantees!

2014-2015: Looking Ahead and Panels, Panels, Panels!

In addition to dealing with grants that have just ended and are just starting, we’re spending a lot of time reviewing applications and preparing panel meetings for 2014-2015 grants. Applications were submitted on June 1 or June 15 depending on the program, and we received a total of 322 applications for General Program Support, 61 for Specific Cultural Projects, 29 for Cultural Facilities, and 169 for Individual Artist Fellowships. We’ve been busy going through and checking each application for eligibility and making sure that everything is in order to send it on to the panels. So far 125 panelists have been officially appointed for the 22 different panels that will take place between late August and early October, and additional panelists have yet to be appointed. Panelists serve on a volunteer basis and must be practicing artists or professionals who specialize in the area of the panels they serve on, and we are extremely grateful for the time they donate to this process. For the full grant panel schedule, check out our calendar.

Our file room is filled with stacks of support materials that were mailed in as part of applications.

Our file room is filled with stacks of support materials that were mailed in as part of applications.

After applications are scored, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture sends panel recommendations to the Secretary of State who then includes them with a request to the Legislature. In spring 2014 the Florida Legislature will make funding decisions and next summer this process will start all over again as organizations start their 2014-2015 grant period.

As you can see, this isn’t just a busy time for the DCA but for current grantees as well. As soon as they finish their application they need to start working on their final report while also filling out the required documentation for the grant that’s just starting. It can be a lot of work keeping everything straight while juggling three years worth of grants, and we’re rarely able to grant as much money as we’d like to Florida’s many deserving organizations. However, the end result is worth every document filed and phone call made because we believe that arts and culture are essential to the quality of life for all Floridians. The events funded through these grants stimulate tourism and enrich our communities. The arts provide jobs, bring people together, and remind us that Florida is a special place to live and work. 

If you have any questions about our grants, please contact a member of our program staff, and remember to let your community leaders and legislators know about the impact these grants have in your community so that we can continue to increase our support for Florida arts and culture.

Culture Builds Florida Has a New Ally

When George Byfield, President of Lakeland-based Comet Group Inc., attended the launch of Culture Builds Florida in Tampa 2011, he came away inspired to create a new type of online publication.

Byfield saw – instantly – an incredible synergy in the mission of Culture Builds Florida with that of the new niche publication he envisioned.

“I came away inspired to create an exciting online magazine that would not be limited by the traditional print publishing model of City, County or Region,” Byfield says. “I envisioned a new type of publication about Florida…connecting people in the arts and culture, travel and leisure, farm and ranch, and nature/wildlife arenas, along with commerce and conservation. We’re calling it Art and Gator. And our goal is to position Florida as the premier arts and outdoor-lifestyle destination for discerning travelers and residents alike.”

Even while still at the launch ceremony, Byfield was already discussing with officials the ways in which his new publication could help Culture Builds Florida meet its objectives.

“Culture Builds Florida was speaking to the exact same audience that we’re aiming for,” Byfield says, “an upscale, influential audience very much involved in both the arts and nature. An audience that realizes there’s so much more to our state than just the great theme parks…and that vibrant cultural and natural amenities play a vital role in our state’s economic growth.”

The arts are big business for Florida. Our state’s diverse cultural offerings attract travelers by the millions to art shows, festivals, special events, and certain types of businesses – energizing the Florida economy for all of us.

Toward that end, Art & Gator (www.artandgator.com) is already a VISIT FLORIDA small-business partner, sharing content and looking into creative ways of enticing travelers to spend a few extra days here.

“More than 65 percent of Florida’s visitors participate in either cultural or nature-based activities while they’re in the Sunshine State,” says Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Visit Florida. “This fact establishes Art & Gator as a key travel planning resource to our visitors. By raising the awareness of these vital market segments, Art & Gator and our partners will serve as a catalyst for economic growth and environmental sustainability.”

Art & Gator is an upscale lifestyle publication, geared toward those who appreciate our state’s cultural institutions and artists, its natural wonders, and the movers and shakers who propel its cultural, sustainable and economic engines.

Initially conceived during the launch of the Culture Builds Florida campaign, the online publication Art & Gator will promote Florida’s diverse cultural offerings to travelers and residents alike. Image used by permission of Art & Gator.

“Our big theme parks are great,” Byfield says, “and they bring people here from all over the world. But we’d like to show discerning travelers and residents that there’s a lot more to our state, as well. And to show them the part that interesting Floridians are playing in enhancing our state’s economic, social, and artistic climates.”

Toward that end, Byfield has assembled a talented core of writers, as well as experienced salespeople who will sell both ad space and special memberships.

Art & Gator is offering a wonderful opportunity for Florida’s cultural organizations to get their messages out…many of which are now overlooked by travelers from outside the state (and sometimes, from inside the state). The site will serve as a dynamic platform to market these organizations. And there are a variety of options to help these organizations publicize themselves to a niche group of travelers…who are looking for exactly what they’re offering.

“We want to be an effective resource for Florida cultural institutions,” Byfield says, “a genuine go-to source for Florida’s authentic cultural and natural travel experiences. And we want to bring them more business from both residents and travelers.”

Byfield has a distinguished background in publishing and tourism marketing, and brings a diverse and integrated approach to the direction of Art & Gator online magazine.

“I understand the challenges facing business and government right now, when it comes to contributing to the arts,” George Byfield says. “My own father refused to support my decision to study art. Where other trades are recognized and valued as “industry,” culture is often viewed as a hobby or a part-time vocation. It’s not necessarily driven by a bottom line, but by passionate people with a vision.

“However,” Byfield continues, “corporations have expanded, people have bought second homes, and families have changed lifestyles because of inspired journeys to cultural or natural destinations. Culture does more than just build Florida – it can sustain Florida’s Quality of Life for generations to come.”

The Division of Cultural Affairs is excited to partner with Art & Gator, which originated with the Culture Builds Florida launch and reinforces our campaign to develop awareness for Florida’s cultural community and the contributions arts and culture make to business and quality of life in our state. We encourage you to check out the publication, inform them about cultural events in your area, follow them on Twitter, and watch for an upcoming interview with Division Director Sandy Shaughnessy about Culture Builds Florida at artandgator.com.