Grantee Spotlight: Creative Clay

Creative Clay’s General Support Grant helps the organization fund their day-to-day activities. Their core program is the Community Arts Program, which serves 50-60 adult artists with neuro-differences each week. Through the implementation of additional offerings, such as the inclusive Art Around the World summer camp, Summer Studio for older teens and young adults, Artlink employment program, Creative Care Arts in Wellness outreach program and the Pinellas County Schools’january-february-2018-final partnership Transition program, individuals of all ages and abilities are mentored, taught and empowered to become working artists who actively create, market and sell their work. The end result is that a formerly stigmatized population, through the art it creates and sells, demystifies stereotypes surrounding those with disabilities and creates a culture of acceptance throughout the community.
Visit Creative Clay at their website or their new location at 1846 First Avenue South in St. Petersburg.


The Osceola Counoctober-2017-newsletter-finalty Historical Society (OCHS) used their Cultural Facilities grant to expand the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. OCHS has recently built three replica buildings: a schoolhouse, a train depot, and a church. The most recently completed building is the General Store.

The general store was one of the focal points of a pioneer village. What made the store “general” was that it sold a variety of items. Many pioneers grew or raised their own food, but having a local store gave them an opportunity to purchase things they could not procure elsewhere. These items would have included clothing material, tools, dried goods and even horse saddles. The general store also provided a place for the locals to see each other and swap news and stories.

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The General Store replica takes shape

OCHS’s new General Store is a replica of the H. E. Page General Store, which served those who lived in and around Narcoossee. Included inside is the town Post Office, which boasts the original post office boxes for the town of Narcoossee from the 1880s to the 1940s. The General Store’s grand opening was during the 26th Annual Pioneer Day, November 11, 2017.

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The original H.E. Page General Store


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


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.


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.”


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 or call (941) 366-1505.

Grantee Spotlight: Lighthouse ArtCenter

The Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery in Tequesta, Florida introduced a glorious celebration of children’s book authors and illustrators this summer.

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Funny Farm, Mark Teague

3) Carol Schwartz -  My Busy Green Garden p 14-15 NFS 24 x 16.jpg

My Busy Green Garden, Carol Schwartz

Drawn to the Arts, a unique exhibition that will run from June 8 through August 11, 2017, engages visitors of all ages as they explore the magical process of creating and enjoying children’s books.

Some of the nation’s bestselling illustrators and writers have generously lent their acclaimed work to exhibit including: Tomie DePaola, Mark Teague, Linda Shute, E.B. Lewis, Bill Farnsworth, Raul Colón, Layne Johnson, Henry Cole, Fred Koehler, Priscilla Burris and Kelly Light.

Janeen Mason, the Curator of the Lighthouse ArtCenter, describes the exhibition, “Here

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Big Bug, Henry Cole

in the Village of Tequesta we are honored to have these popular, well-loved illustrators send us their best work for all of our young and young at heart visitors to enjoy.”

For more information, visit

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!


Betsy Restaurant – Florida


Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery


New World Symphony in Miami Beach

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

Culture in Florida: February

Culture In Florida

by Tim Storhoff

Culture In Florida is a monthly news roundup to show 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.

February went by quickly, but it was another busy month for arts and culture across the state, and as we look forward March will have even more events. Florida Heritage Month takes place from March 15 to April 15, so watch for events taking place statewide.

The many arts and culture events available in the Florida Keys received some well-deserved media attention this month, as articles have spotlighted the importance of arts grants for putting artists in schools and how the Florida Keys offer visitors and residents ‘more than t-shirts and beer’:

The Florida Keys are more than sunshine and saltwater, frozen drinks and four-day cruises. The island chain has always beckoned to a legendary roster of writers, painters, performers and artists, and still calls endlessly to others who appreciate those endeavors.

Artist Mario Sanchez, playwright Tennessee Williams and author Ernest Hemingway never heard the term “cultural tourism,” and certainly weren’t aware that they were giving birth to a new industry while they lived and worked at the intersection of the Atlantic and Gulf. But the arts have become more than a passion in the Florida Keys. They’re an industry — a cultural tourism industry, which has been steadily gaining momentum in Monroe County.

Other cities and areas have also been working to stress the importance of arts and culture in their communities. The DeLand City Commission has partnered with the Florida Museum of Art in the hopes of  incorporating public art and redevelopment projects to encourage economic development. The city of Bradenton is using the unique Village of the Arts — billed as Florida’s largest art colony — in a renewed effort to draw tourists to the area, particularly those with an artistic bent. In Boynton Beach the city spotlighted the fifteen large kinetic art sculptures that were installed over the last year, and St. Augustine has been celebrated as a world-class art and music destination.

The famous Florida Highwaymen were busy throughout February with the Third Annual Original Highwaymen Weekend Extravaganza that took place in Davenport at the end of the month, and a special event featuring the artists and their paintings at the Museum of Florida History on February 5.  The Florida Highwaymen was a group of 26 black artists who studied painting together and took their unique, colorful paintings of Florida landscapes to sell on the road and door-to-door during a time when many galleries would not let them display their work. Famous Highwaymen paintings have included serene sunsets, sleepy Florida rivers, arching palm trees, crashing ocean waves and bright red palmetto trees. 

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner with members of the Florida Highwaymen during the February 5 event at the Museum of Florida History.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner with members of the Florida Highwaymen during the February 5 event at the Museum of Florida History. Image courtesy of the Museum of Florida History.

This month, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens remembered Robert W. Schlageter, who grew the institution from a small, locally focused museum to one with a collection spanning 4,000 years of art history. He died Feb. 2 in Clearwater at the age of 88. The Norton Museum of Art has had an Annie Leibovitz exhibition on display all month that will continue through June 9. There have been numerous exhibitions and events statewide related to Viva Florida 500, such as the dedication of the Wild About Wildflowers public art display in Delray Beach, the OLA Film festival took place in Orlando, and the Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts in Pensacola featured an exhibition of underwater photographs by Karen Glaser in “The Mark of Water, Florida’s Springs and Swamps.”

The Florida State Fair took place in February, with arts and culture featured as an important element in the fair’s events. Numerous awards for artwork were given out. Commissioner Putnam recognized Reid Risner, the winner of Florida’s 500th Anniversary Youth Fine Arts Competition. More than 200 Florida students submitted entries of fine artwork representing the history of Florida agriculture. The competition’s finalists will be on display for the duration of the fair, along with the winners of Florida’s 500th Anniversary Youth Coloring Competition. A new museum at the fair was also unveiled, “Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition.”

Solomon Dixon was chosen as the featured Florida artist for Black History Month 2013.

Solomon Dixon was chosen as the featured Florida artist for Black History Month 2013.

February was Black History Month, and numerous events took place across the state to honor the contributions of African Americans through arts and culture. The First Lady of Florida chose Solomon Dixon as the featured artist for this year.

There’s a lot going on in March. The state finals for Poetry Out Loud will take place in Tallahassee on March 9. Also remember to keep up with the Florida Heritage Month calendar and submit  events that are significant to Florida heritage, arts or culture, open to the public, and appropriate for audiences of all ages. You can also check for upcoming happenings at Art & Gator’s Event and Festival Calendar and the Viva Florida 500 calendar.

Florida Heritage Month will take place from March 15 to April 15.

Florida Heritage Month will take place from March 15 to April 15.

Culture in Florida: January

Culture In Florida

by Bob Evans

Culture In Florida is a monthly news roundup to show 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.

7 Days of Opening Nights

Portion of a mural on Gaines Street in Tallahassee celebrating 7 Days of Opening Nights (Photo used with permission from

Happy New Year! January has been quite an exciting month for arts and culture around the state.

First up for 2013 are the many events surrounding Viva Florida 500. This statewide initiative led by the Florida Department of State, under the leadership of Secretary of State Ken Detzner along with Governor Rick Scott, highlights the 500 years of historic people, places and events in present-day Florida since the arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the land he named La Florida in 1513For a complete listing of events, including options to filter by type of event and location, visit Make sure to check out all of the events in your area!

The Bonita Springs Historical Society, in partnership with the City of Bonita Springs, is sponsoring a 14 week series of Florida history programs at the Bonita Springs Community Center. Each Wednesday at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m., program presenter David Southall will introduce a different historical era along with the interesting characters and events that influenced those times with a Florida perspective.

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville has assembled about 40 pieces of Florida art in a new exhibition, “La Florida,” showcasing art in Florida from the past 500 years. The pieces range from jewelry of the 1500s to contemporary works by Florida artists. The exhibition will continue until October 6th.

The Marcus Roberts Octet

The Marcus Roberts Octet will present the music of Jelly Roll Morton (photo used with permission from

Seven Days of Opening Nights is Tallahassee’s premier performing arts festival, promoting Florida State University’s commitment to the arts. This year, the festival welcomes Christopher Heacox as its new director. Two new murals on Gaines Street are representing the celebration of community inspired by the festival, which continues through February. Notable performances at this year’s festival are the stunningly virtuosic violinist Hilary Hahn, the innovative and visceral choreography of Abraham.In.Motion, and many others.

The 30A Songwriters Festival took place over the weekend of January 18-20 in Walton County and brought over 125 musical acts and throngs of tourists to the area. This event has been growing each year to become one of the best regarded music festivals in the country. Everyone in Florida should be sure to check out the many art and music festivals that take place around the state, such as those in St. Augustine and Lee and Collier Counties.

Thomas Nestor, a St. Petersburg music promoter, is racing to raise funds to convert a historic YMCA building into a concert venue, music museum and space for after-school programs. His success hinges on his ability to secure the necessary $1.4 million in donations to purchase the structure within the next month.

Music is such an important part of a comprehensive education, which is the reason that students at Florida A&M University took the time to create a CD that encourages students to do well on the FCAT, Florida’s statewide standardized test. The Character Center is selling the album for $10 to raise money for its summer camp.

Opening any business during a recession can be tricky, but the Art Gallery of Viera is flourishing. From its new, larger location at The Avenue, the gallery presents exceptional educational programs in myriad media, suitable for all ages. To keep its standards at peak, the gallery only accepts top-quality local artists for membership. The Plum Art Gallery in St. Augustine is also exhibiting local and regional artists through the end of March.

Richard Blanco, a Floridian, made history this month by being the youngest poet to serve as the poet for the inauguration of President Obama. Blanco is also the first inaugural poet who is Latino and openly gay. He personally delivered his poem “One Today” in front of the U.S. Capitol on January 21st.

Manatee at Wakulla Springs State Park

A manatee making its winter home at Wakulla Springs State Park (photo by Bob Evans)

Finally, if you haven’t been, head over to Wakulla Springs State Park for a chance to see the manatees, Florida’s state marine mammal. The manatees have been making their winter home in the state park for the past 5 years or so, drawn to the water which remains between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Orange City and Blue Spring State Park hosted the 28th annual Blue Spring Manatee Festival on the 26th and 27th, with events celebrating the endangered creatures.


Remember: February is Black History Month. Governor Rick Scott, Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, and First Lady Ann Scott today invite students in kindergarten through 12th grades to participate in the Florida Black History Month art and essay contests. They also invite students, parents, teachers and principals to nominate full-time African-American educators in elementary, middle or high schools for the Black History Month Excellence in Education Award.

Check out these calendars of events from South Florida, Florida State University, and the Nassau County Library System