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. 

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

Provided by Making Light Productions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Grantee Spotlight: Pensacola Opera ‘From Words to Music’

Provided by Pensacola Opera

Students in the “Upside of Florida” are creating their own operas – and loving it!

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It all began in 2006, when the administration, faculty, students, and parents at Holley-Navarre Elementary School agreed to join the pilot program of a new arts-in-education initiative offered by Pensacola Opera.  Since that time, over 40 world premiere operas have been conceived, created and performed by children as part of Pensacola Opera’s From Words to Music program.

Pensacola Beach Elementary School’s Music Specialist Mary Holway shares, “Our school has been participating in From Words to Music for five years. At this point, I believe I would lose my job if I did not participate! The teachers, parents, and staff all love seeing and hearing our 2nd graders take a book, read it, and turn it into an evening of opera fun every year. They are just learning comprehension as 2nd grade readers, so turning a story from a book into a libretto, characters, songs and sets, is a perfect way to up the ante on their comprehension. Think of it as acting out and singing every book you’ve ever enjoyed….the results are amazing. The parents, in particular, are blown away by the process and the product. They just cannot believe that their children can participate with such enthusiasm and it is usually those kids that are not performers who get the most out of the process. The kids always amaze!”

pensacola opera 2Conductor, pianist, and Director of Education, Cody Martin, along with Pensacola Opera’s five Artists in Residence, provide mentoring and professional musical support throughout the academic year.  The company also provides financial support to help underwrite the production costs associated with the students’ presentations.

Prior to her appointment as Pensacola Opera’s Executive Director, Chandra McKern was Director of Education for Nashville Opera and Pensacola Opera.  She experienced first-hand the positive outcomes possible through participation in the program.  “From Words to Music is a year-long program that allows children to be creative, build confidence, and develop a joy for learning while building academic and social skills.  I remember a child that burst into tears at the end of her performance for her peers.  I walked up to her and asked if she was alright?  Her response was, “I just feel so loved” and she gave me a hug.  Her teacher then told me that she had been moved from foster homes her whole life, and this was a very special moment for her to be on stage. These stories are endless and I truly believe that Pensacola Opera is making a difference with this incredible program.”

pensacola opera 3The success of the program is due in no small part to the enthusiastic support provided by Angela Barberi, the Fine Arts Coordinator for the Escambia County School District, who is a strong advocate for the importance of the program. “Through our partnership with the Opera we are able to provide relevant arts integration professional development for our teachers and bring incredible Opera experiences to our most under resources students through From Words to Music and the Opera in Our Schools program.”

Now celebrating its twelfth continuous year, From Words to Music, continues to invigorate and educate, combining the power of  musical story-telling with the endless create enthusiasm of students and teachers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

To learn more about Pensacola Opera and From Words to Music, visit their website: https://pensacolaopera.com/.


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

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. 

Grantee Spotlight: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens ‘Stroll for Well-Being’

Provided by Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

kodaimon_005Located in Delray Beach, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens opened in 1977 with a mission “to engage a diverse audience by presenting Japanese cultural experiences that educate and inspire”. Drawing upon a century-old connection between Japan and South Florida, the museum has served as a cultural center for Japanese art exhibitions, tea ceremonies, educational outreach programs, and Japanese festivals. The Morikami Collections house more than 7,000 Japanese art objects and artifacts, including a 500-piece collection of tea ceremony items, more than 200 textile pieces and fine art acquisitions.

Surrounding the museum are 16 acres of expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, a world-class bonsai collection and lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife. The gardens underwent a major expansion and renovation in 2001, and now reflect major periods of Japanese garden design, from the eighth to the 20th century, and serve as an outdoor extension of the museum. According to the garden designer, Hoichi Kurisu, each garden is intended to express the character and ideas of a unique counterpart in Japan without attempting to duplicate those gardens, and seamlessly flow together as one garden.

IMG_4945One of the many cultural programs that Morikami offers is their Stroll for Well-Being program. In 2006 Morikami received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct a research study with Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. Researchers undertook the study to determine whether or not garden visits were as effective as, or more effective than, art therapy in relieving symptoms of depression in older adults. Art therapy has been shown to decrease depression in the elderly by allowing elders to express feelings of sadness and loss. The study showed that walking the gardens was as effective as art therapy in alleviating the symptoms of depression in older adults. As a result of this study, the Stroll for Well-Being program was born.

Stroll for Well-Being participants receive a complimentary year of unlimited visits to Morikami, a guided journal, and three sessions with a facilitator. Garden strolls begin following an initial group meeting with a facilitator to acquaint participants with how the program works and to distribute the guidebook/journals. The guidebook/journal presents several themed walks that identify points along the way at which to pause, reflect and experience a sense of ease. Walks are based on such themes as awareness, trust, possibility, joy and fulfillment, and are designed to elicit reflection on one’s life. Space in the guidebook/journal allows participants to record their thoughts on these and other topics. Participants in the program may visit the garden at any time during regular museum and garden hours as often as they wish, but are encouraged to visit at least twice a week during the first eight weeks.

rose_and_eve_4855Over 1000 people have participated in the program since its public introduction in 2008 and since 2011, the program has been generously funded by Astellas Pharma US, Inc., which has allowed Morikami to offer the program free of charge to participants of nonprofit therapy groups including veterans, caregivers, cancer survivors and those experiencing chronic illness and grief, among others. Participants are initially offered three months of membership to Morikami and invited to attend three walks and meetings during this time. After this initial membership period, participants in the program have unlimited opportunities  for up to a year to visit Morikami to leisurely stroll the garden path, and enjoy the peace and serenity that the garden has to offer. Strolling the garden itself is entirely a personal activity. Past participants have reported that the Stroll for Well-Being program has helped them to effectively reduce stress and alleviate sadness.

sitting in the gardenIn 2014, representatives from the program presented the research at the North American Japanese Garden Association Conference to great enthusiasm. Many gardens throughout the United States have implemented their own programs modeled after Stroll for Well-Being, showing that museums can be places of therapy and stress release in addition to being important cultural centers. Recently, Morikami began expanding the current program to add physical exercises and visualizations to the guided garden strolls, allowing participants to experience the calm and release of the garden whether they are able to attend in person or not.

More information about the research study and the Stroll for Well-Being program (including a manual for starting a similar program within your own organization) can be found on Morikami’s website: http://morikami.org.


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

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/.