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.

Inside the DCA: An Intern’s Perspective

by Bob Evans

Bob Evans, former intern and current staff member.

Bob Evans, former intern and current staff member at the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

I have this theory. The kids who dream about growing up and becoming astronauts, ballerinas, or other such fantastic professions usually end up as accountants or telecommunications network engineers. Not to say that those aren’t fantastic jobs, but to the average American eight-year-old, it’s much more accessible to imagine space or the stage. But the kids who shoot for, say, architecture or constitutional law might end up being astronauts, ballerinas, or…arts administrators?

Ok, it’s a little trite, as far as theories go.

All this to say I never would have pictured myself as a musician, let alone an arts administrator, let alone working for Florida’s state arts agency. I moved to Tallahassee to pursue an arts administration degree in the Florida State University’s College of Music, and, along the way, I somehow impressed someone enough to be invited to join the Division of Cultural Affairs as an intern.

I’ll be the first to admit to pretending I know more about the various branches and tendrils of state and local government than I actually do (with apologies to my dear, sweet, high school AP Government teacher). I understood that a state arts agency was typically a grant-making organization, but I had no clue how it functioned under the purview of state government. After seven months here at the DCA, I can assuredly say that it is just as complicated as expected but more wonderful than I could have imagined.

My duties include running for coffee, picking up dry cleaning, driving people to the airport…no, that’s wrong! All throughout my internship, I’ve been treated like a staff member, and given just as many responsibilities. I’ve worked with the Florida Artists Hall of Fame and seen firsthand the wealth of artists that promote and preserve Florida’s culture. I’ve helped organize Florida’s Poetry Out Loud contest, under the guidance of the recently retired Ken Crawford. This program, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages high school students to memorize and recite poetry by truly great poets. These students learn how to perform on stage, and by memorizing a poem, they internalize it, which is such an under-appreciated skill in today’s world of instant access. Along with my brilliant colleague Tim Storhoff, I co-author a monthly review of arts and culture events in Florida, titled “Culture in Florida” after the motto “Culture Builds Florida,” which we post at the end of each month on this very blog (shameless plug: check out March).

Florida Division of Cultural Affairs staff members in front of the Brokaw-McDougall House on Halloween.

Florida Division of Cultural Affairs staff members in front of the Brokaw-McDougall House on Halloween.

By far, the most heartening part of the job is reviewing reports where an individual or organization has received a grant of just a few thousand dollars and created inventive programming that is not only artistically resonant but engaging to a community. In those moments, when I realize what we’re doing at the DCA is directly impacting someone’s quality of life, I’m sure that this is what it’s all about. That’s the it.

Recently, due to my keenly honed ability to be in the right place at the right time, I was offered a part-time position working with Individual Artist Fellowships here at the Division. I can’t believe my luck! I’m getting paid to do what I love, and this blog post gets a happy ending after all.

Postcard From: The Creative Capital Professional Development Workshop

by Tim Storhoff

This past weekend, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs along with Citizens for Florida Arts, Inc. partnered with the Creative Capital Foundation to offer a Professional Development Workshop to 24 artists from across the state of Florida that work in a variety of disciplines. This intensive two and a half days were a crash course in self-management, strategic planning, fundraising and promotion. The full weekend of lectures, peer critiques, one-on-one consultations, and interactive exercises took place in the beautiful University Gallery and nearby classrooms at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The workshop leaders included Colleen Keegan, Aaron LandsmanJackie Battenfield (if you’re near Sarasota, check out Jackie’s exhibition at the Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art gallery on display through February 9), César Cornejo, and Beverly McIver. For more information, you should check out Jackie’s book The Artist’s Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love as well as the HBO Documentary Raising Renee about Beverly. By sharing their personal experiences and numerous resources, these artists and administrators provided the tools and methods that will help attendees manage the business side of their art with greater efficiency and results, allowing them to expand their skills and build more sustainable careers.

Here are some photos I took to chronicle this exciting and constructive weekend:


"A bigger dream is much easier to achieve than a small dream, because it is inspiring."

“A bigger dream is much easier to achieve than a small dream, because it is inspiring.”

Beverly McIver explains how she worked towards achieving her own goals during the Strategic Planning session.

Beverly McIver explains how she worked towards achieving her own goals during the Strategic Planning session.

Participating artists enjoying lunch outside the gallery.

Participating artists enjoying lunch outside the gallery.

Workshop leaders and artists were able to share stories and discuss their work.

Workshop leaders and artists sharing stories and discussing their work.

Participating artist Julia Morrisroe describes an upcoming exhibition during Targeted Marketing.

Participating artist Julia Morrisroe describes an upcoming exhibition during Targeted Marketing.

Here are the results we came up with during our Targeted Marketing brainstorming session.

Here are the results we came up with during our Targeted Marketing brainstorming session.

"We want to dispel the myth we often tell ourselves that we are lucky to be artists, and because of that we don't deserve to be paid well. A passion for what you do should not preclude being paid."

“We want to dispel the myth we often tell ourselves that we are lucky to be artists, and because of that we don’t deserve to be paid well. A passion for what you do should not preclude being paid.”

Artists and workshop leaders enjoying the beautiful weather we had by meeting outside.

Artists and workshop leaders take advantage of the beautiful January weather by meeting outside.

Participating artist RIchard Seidel thanks the workshop leaders for the uplifting weekend.

Participating artist Richard Seidel thanks the workshop leaders for the uplifting weekend.

Creative Capital is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing integrated financial and advisory support to artists pursuing adventurous projects in five disciplines: Emerging Fields, Film/Video, Literature, Performing Arts and Visual Arts. Working in long-term partnership with artists, Creative Capital’s pioneering approach to support combines funding, counsel and career development services to enable a project’s success and foster a sustainable practice for its grantees. In its first decade, Creative Capital has committed more than $20 million in financial and advisory support to 325 projects representing 406 artists, and has reached an additional 3,700 artists around the country through its Professional Development Program.

The Division of Cultural Affairs partnered in presenting this program because we firmly believe that providing support and resources to Florida’s Individual Artists helps all of Florida’s cultural landscape. The Division has offered professional development opportunities like this workshop for Florida artists since 2006. Through these opportunities, over 250 artists have been trained in career-building skills such as marketing, time management, fundraising, and strategic planning. Additionally, the Division offers one grant program for individual artists, the Individual Artist Fellowship Program. The Fellowship Program provides monetary fellowships to Florida Artists to support their work and careers and to recognize the outstanding talent and artistic contributions of Florida artists. Individual artists enrich our communities and the world around us, and their works highlight our state’s diversity and create connections to our history. Spending time with these artists and learning about their endeavors during the workshop reminded all of us that Florida is a special place to live and work.

Thank you to everyone for a wonderful weekend! We are especially grateful to the workshop leaders from Creative Capital and the helpful staff and administrators at the University of Florida College of Fine Arts. We look forward to seeing where these artists take their careers from here!

Spotlight on the Florida Artists Hall of Fame nominees, Part II

By Tim Storhoff and Ken Crawford

Yesterday on the Culture Builds Florida blog we spotlighted 2013’s musical nominees for the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Today we will be featuring our visual arts nominees, who represent a variety of styles and backgrounds. Their work is exhibited throughout Florida and beyond. We encourage you to seek out their work and view it for yourself. In March it might be one of the following painters, photographers or sculptors who is awarded “La Florida” and added to the wall of the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in the Capitol.

The sculpture “La Florida” was created by Enzo Torcoletti and is awarded to all Florida Artists Hall of Fame inductees. This photo is from Robert C. Broward’s induction last year.

Romero Britto: Painter – Miami (1963- )
Romero Britto is a world-renowned Brazilian-American Neo-Pop artist, painter, serigrapher, and sculptor. He has lived in Miami since 1989. He combines elements of cubism, pop art and graffiti painting in his work, attracting collaborations with many corporate brands. His art has been exhibited in galleries and museums in over 100 countries. An outspoken and energetic philanthropist, Mr. Britto often serves as a benefactor to many varied causes. He has donated art and resources to over 250 charitable organizations. He serves on several boards of directors, including Best Buddies International, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. He was recently named a founding inaugural benefactor of Harvard’s International Negotiation Program for peaceful conflict resolution. His desire to use his art to bring the international community together in peace informs his life. Mr. Britto has spoken about art and humanity at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and at many schools and institutions. His website can be found at

Scherley Busch: Photographer – Coconut Grove (1945- )
Ms. Scherley Busch is one of Florida’s most respected photographers and photographic portrait artists, with exhibitions statewide and work held in private and public collections. Her work is published nationally in books and magazines. The artist is also known for unique photographic interpretations of landscapes through her hand-tinted “Dreamscapes” of Florida scenes. She is particularly appreciated for images documenting the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame and photographs of many of the state’s women of achievement.  Her artistic portraits of prominent Florida artists and leaders in many fields are widely appreciated. They celebrate the essence of extraordinary people who have transcended difficult boundaries in their lives to achieve success in arts, government, business and philanthropic endeavors. Ms. Busch often gives of her time to instruct young artists in her photographic technique, which seeks to find the subject in time and space in order to document the image at its most profound moment. You can visit her website at

Jennifer Chaparro creating a piece of chalk art. Photo by Craig C. Houdeshell. Image courtesy/used by permission of Jennifer Chaparro.

Jennifer Chaparro: Pastel Chalk Artist – N. Palm Beach (1962- )
Jennifer Nichols was born into an artistic family in Michigan and grew up in California before moving to Ohio. She pursued degrees and experience in painting and design while working in advertising and raising her two daughters. In Ohio, Ms. Chaparro served the Dayton Visual Arts Center, serving as their president and as a board member and contributing artist. In 1999, she moved to North Palm Beach with her daughters, and began participating in the Street Painting Festival at Lake Worth, the largest street painting event in the United States. This event launched Ms. Chaparro’s art career. She specializes in large 10′ x 10′ works, usually featuring the relationship between women and children. Now a well-known participant in the European street painter tradition, she received her Semplice Professional Certification in 2009, her Qualificato Certification in 2010, and her Maestro Certification in 2011. She frequently supports local community events with her participation. Learn more about her street painting and chalk art at

“Mystic Road Odessa, Florida” by Gregory Colvin. Image courtesy/used by permission of Gregory Colvin.

Greg Colvin: Photographer – Odessa (1954- )
Greg Colvin is a photographer-artist whose inspiration is found in the natural world. He uses the camera as a paintbrush, “…recreating visual sensations to share with others.” Mr. Colvin spends much of his time teaching others; also publishing many instructional articles. His images have been shown in galleries, juried exhibitions, outdoor art shows, schools and libraries. His work is included in the Tampa General Hospital permanent collection and Hilton Hotels. He was admitted into the Naples Museum of Art “Florida Contemporary Exhibit” in 2009. This year, he was commissioned by the federal government’s FCCPAC Art Project to create seven pieces for a new public building in downtown Orlando. He was also recently accepted into the Manhattan Arts International “Celebrating the Healing Power of Arts” juried exhibition in New York City. You can see more examples of his many photographs at his personal website.

Bruce Harold Cook: Painter/Mixed Media – Live Oak (1955- )
Visual artist Bruce Harold Cook creates colorful sculptures of native wildlife and whimsical outdoor scenes using natural materials, including wood and glass, which represent his vision of the ecological balance of Florida. His work is represented in Florida State Parks visitor centers, in galleries and private collections, and in public and corporate buildings. Mr. Cook is a frequent volunteer at many community art events. He has a particular interest in art therapy, devoting his time to serving the communities of vocational rehabilitation, juvenile justice, Hospice, and the Hibiscus Children’s Foundation. He is a five-year member teaching artist of the VSA Florida program for adults with disabilities. Mr. Cook pursues every occasion to help those with disabilities to use the arts as he does—as a positive way to overcome personal limitations.

Janet N. Heaton: Painter/Arts Advocate – West Palm Beach (1936- )
A visual artist known for her vivid connection to the inspirations of Nature, Ms. Heaton’s acclaimed watercolors and oils have won numerous awards and have appeared in many national and international shows and galleries. Her Florida landscapes and animal paintings hang in public and private collections, and have been featured at museums around the United States and the world. She has worked to gain wider recognition for Florida’s animal artists, gathering those artists in exhibits to express concern and raise funds for endangered Florida wildlife. Ms. Heaton is known for giving much of her time and artwork to advance the missions of community organizations such as the Friends of John D. MacArthur State Park, Palm Beach County Nature Foundation, Florida Watercolor Society, and the Society of Animal Artists. Ms. Neaton’s website can be found at

Ralph N. Hurst: Sculptor – Tallahassee (1918-2003)
As a renowned fine arts teaching professor at the Florida State University for 27 years, Ralph Hurst found great joy in assisting young artists develop their talents. Highlighting his esteemed FSU career were faculty grants allowing him to have a studio at the campus in Florence, Italy to continue his sculptural carving in alabaster and marble. The creator of thousands of artworks in his lifetime, his contributions to the arts community of Tallahassee continue to play a major role in the education of future artists. He and his wife established the Ralph and Jean Hurst Art Collection at Tallahassee Community College. The gallery serves as a permanent education tool for students at the college. The artist also played a vital role in founding the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts. His commissioned works can be seen at the Claude Pepper Center. Hurst’s sculptures and multimedia works are exhibited internationally, and in many museums and major galleries, including the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida Craftsmen in St. Petersburg, the Harmon Gallery in Naples, the High Museum in Atlanta, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At you can view an interactive version of the Ralph Hurst Gallery at Tallahassee Community College.

Richard Kelly: Painter – Vero Beach (1951- )
A popular and award-winning oil painter of images of the Indian River Lagoon and natural Florida scenes, Mr. Kelly was a student of landscape artist A. E. “Bean” Backus. He is a retired Fort Pierce firefighter, with a penchant for using art as a vehicle to compel people to better understand and respect the ecological environment of the Treasure Coast Region where he lives. His book, Treasured Waters, illuminates the beauty and history of the Indian River area. He frequently donates his time to teach art to seniors and young art students, and lends support to many local community efforts to preserve the natural environment. In 2007, he received the Florida Senate Medallion of Excellence commemorating his artistic visions of Florida’s natural beauty. His work can be seen in galleries throughout Florida, museums, and public buildings in the Treasure Coast Region. You can see more examples of Mr. Kelly’s work and order his book at Treasured Waters.

John Seerey-Lester: Painter – Osprey (1945- )
A world-renowned Florida wildlife and landscape painter, watercolorist, art teacher and animal rights advocate, Mr. Seerey-Lester is widely known for his up-close images of the Florida Panther, loggerhead turtles, wetland birds and other wildlife in natural habitat settings. He personally assists and contributes to local wildlife conservation on the Gulf Coast, particularly the protection of sea turtles and shore birds. The artist is very active in the Venice arts community as an art teacher and arts community fundraiser, greatly impacting the quality of arts instruction and arts support in that region. His worldwide reputation is based upon numerous national and international awards for his images depicting the forces of nature at work. The author of many of the books he illustrates, Mr. Seerey-Lester’s newest book of paintings and nonfiction writing, Legends of the Hunt, was published in 2010. View John’s art as well as art by Suzie Seerey-Lester at

Image courtesy/used by permission of Jimmy Stovall.

Jimmy Stovall: Painter –  Fort Pierce (1951- )
Jimmy Stovall’s paintings reflect his interest in preserving the Florida he remembers as a young man. He is the last artist personally taught the Highwaymen painting style in Fort Pierce by Alfred Hair. Following his distress concerning Hair’s untimely death, Mr. Stovall temporarily gave up painting and moved to Tampa, and then migrated to Miami to work, where he began to paint again. Highwayman Artist Mary Ann Carroll contacted him in later years about photographer/author Gary Monroe, who was working on a book about the scattered group of artists. But the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew rendered the artist unreachable for Monroe’s early book interviews. Twenty-six of the Highwaymen were featured in The Highwaymen (University Press of Florida, 2001). Soon after that, Mr. Stovall returned to fulltime painting and to his home in Fort Pierce, where he still lives and works. Twenty-six Highwaymen were honored by induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. View his work at

“Sheepshead” by William A. Walker

William Aiken Walker: Painter
St. Augustine (1839-1921)
A regional genre painter of the Post-Reconstruction South, the artist William Aiken Walker dedicated his life to exploring Florida and the East Coast. An early iconoclastic figure, he was the only artist of that time to focus his talent on recording the Post-Civil War life of emancipated slaves, and the rapidly changing culture of Florida. Walker was a solitary wanderer who spent many years alone exploring the backwoods, swamps, rivers and bays of the state, drawing and painting what he saw, which include the first and most comprehensive collection of Florida native fish images of the time. He roamed frontier Florida documenting the flora and fauna, town scenes, fishing communities, railroad construction, and early homesteads around him. Prior to the Civil War, he briefly worked in Cuba as a photographer then served as a cartographer in the Confederate Army before beginning his long artistic exploration of Florida, where he remained until his death in 1921. The Flagler Museum and the Museum of Florida History have collected rare series’ of Walker paintings. The book William Aiken Walker: In Florida (2003) is available from Eaton Fine Art.

Laura Woodward: Painter – Palm Beach (1834-1926)
Florida’s most important Nineteenth Century woman artist, and one of the earliest and greatest publicists of our state’s image as a “tropical paradise,” Laura Woodward changed the course of history in Florida by influencing Henry Flagler’s choice of resort location with her ideas and naturalistic paintings of the Palm Beach area. She enlivened awareness about Florida before the time of color photography by exhibiting her works widely, thus enticing tourism to the state. Prior to moving to Florida, Ms. Woodward was an acclaimed Hudson River School Artist and among the most distinguished of American women artists painting at that time. She was also one of the very first professional artists to paint natural plein air images in the wild areas of the Everglades. Her important role in the development of the state is now taught in history classes at Florida colleges. Laura Woodward’s inspired dedication to the Florida landscape, and her legacy as a tireless advocate for women artists in this country, survive her. You can learn more about her and see some examples of her art at the Edward and Deborah Pollack Fine Art website.

Laura Woodward, “Red Hibiscus,” watercolor, collection of Edward and Deborah Pollack. Image courtesy/used by permission of Edward and Deborah Pollack.

Read more about the program and all previous inductees at the Division of Cultural Affairs Artists Hall of Fame page. Check back tomorrow as we profile the remaining 2013 Florida Artists Hall of Fame nominees.

Spotlight on the Florida Artists Hall of Fame nominees, Part I

By Tim Storhoff and Ken Crawford

The Florida Artists Hall of Fame recognizes persons, living or deceased, who have made significant contributions to the arts in Florida either as a performing artist or practicing artist in an individual discipline.  Established by the Florida Legislature in 1986, the Artists Hall of Fame is not only the highest arts award, it is the most prestigious honor that can be bestowed upon an individual in the State of Florida.

Induction into the Hall of Fame is a very prestigious honor—the highest bestowed on an artist by the State of Florida. It is intended for those professional Florida artists who are fully advanced in their careers, have made a significant contribution to the arts in this state, and have received some national or international recognition through their achievements. Inductees typically demonstrate outstanding initiative, excellence among peers, and a profound artistic commitment throughout their lifetime. Visit the official Florida Artists Hall of Fame page for more information on the nomination process and for a complete list of previous inductees.

Twenty-seven artists have been nominated for the 2013 award. As we prepare for the upcoming meeting of The Florida Council on Arts and Culture where they will vote on these nominees, we will be spotlighting them here at the Culture Builds Florida blog.

Today we will spotlight the nominees who have contributed to Florida’s musical culture as recording artists, folk musicians, dancers, and conductors. You will recognize some of these individuals as world-famous performers while others made their contributions to artistic life in Florida outside of the limelight. Below you will find short biographies of the musical nominees, links, and some videos of their performances.

Pat Boone: Singer/Actor – Jacksonville (1934- )
Charles Eugene “Pat” Boone was a successful pop singer during the 1950s and early 1960s. Born in Jacksonville and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, he sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood movies. Boone’s attractive talent as a singer and actor, which combined with his old-fashioned values, contributed to the popularity of early rock and roll. Mr. Boone is also the author of a number of inspirational books, including his No. 1 bestseller in the 1950s, Twixt Twelve and Twenty. In the 1960s, he focused on gospel music and is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He continues to perform, but concentrates mostly on his current role as a motivational speaker and conservative political commentator in California. Mr. Boone still visits Florida annually. To read more about Pat Boone today and hear some of his music, visit

Maestro Brooks-Bruzzese. Image courtesy/used by permission of the Symphony of the Americas

Dr. James Brooks-Bruzzese: Symphony Conductor – Ft. Lauderdale (1940- )
Maestro James Books-Bruzzese is the esteemed Artistic Director of the Symphony of the Americas in Fort Lauderdale. A Florida resident for nearly 50 years, the Maestro’s world–class artistic skills and award-winning reputation have called him to represent Florida by conducting major orchestras worldwide. His 24 audio recordings represent the beauty of classical literature, and are also testaments of inter-cultural cooperation among the world’s best known concert artists. Dr. Brooks-Bruzzese is particularly devoted to bringing the heritage of classical music to young people. He mentors students in inner-city and rural Florida schools. In that capacity, Dr. Brooks-Bruzzese established a very successful youth orchestra in Broward County and helped build bridges between continents by bringing his South Florida music education programs to youth in South America. He has been recognized by Florida’s elected officials, presidents, heads of state and dignitaries all over the world for his dedication to art and education. Learn more about Dr. Brooks-Bruzzese at his personal website and at the Symphony of the Americas.

Vassar Clements: Musician/Recording Artist – Kissimmee (1928-2005)
One of this country’s best-known fiddlers, Floridian Vassar Clements was an icon of American music. Though self-taught, his technical musicianship and gifted jazz stylings made him the most-requested sideman in the history of country music. His signature pieces, “Lonesome Fiddle Blues,” “The Kissimmee Kid,” and “Hillbilly Jazz” recall his rural Florida roots. A Grammy Award winner, Mr. Clements toured with many major stars and performed on more than 2,000 recordings, including sessions with Bill Monroe, Stefane Grappelli, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty and countless others. His work on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Circle Be Unbroken” record is the stuff of legend. Popular banjo player Béla Fleck has been known to say in the studio when asking for a cleaner, more pronounced fiddle sound that, “It needs more Vassar.” A creative artist on every level, Mr. Clements was also a great violin teacher. Though he enjoyed a demanding touring schedule into his later years, he nevertheless made time for the development of young artists into strong instrumentalists. Always emphasizing dedication to his instrument, he believed that all professional musicians are responsible for transferring the love of their art, as well as their technique, to the next generation. You can read more about Vassar Clements at his website and check out the video below of him playing “The Kissimmee Kid.”

Gloria Estefan: Singer/Recording Artist – Miami (1957- )
Prominent singer, recording artist, and international star Gloria Estefan has lived in Miami for most of her life. Emigrating from Cuba as a child, Ms. Estefan followed her dream of becoming a professional singer. In 1968 she began her career as a lead singer for the Miami Sound Machine, a popular local Miami band performing at night clubs, festivals and cultural events. Now a Grammy award-winner several times over, Ms. Estefan enjoys a worldwide reputation as a prominent recording artist and film actor. In addition, her contributions to the Florida community include many hurricane relief concerts, AIDS research benefits, and her well-known advocacy work to strengthen Florida boating safety regulations. In addition to a demanding performance and recording schedule, she contributes time and resources to many cultural events. Ms. Estefan frequently champions the importance of arts education for young people. Her artistic and financial contributions to enhance the education of Miami students through the experience of music is well known. You can follow Ms. Estefan on twitter with the handle @GloriaEstefan.

Robert “Bobby” Lord: Recording Artist – Jensen Beach (1934-2008)
An award-winning country music artist and performer, Robert “Bobby” Lord was a popular singer and television show emcee with a long history of Nashville entertainment success in the 1950s and 1960s. His well-known efforts to expand Florida tourism by promoting the state wherever he traveled made a significant difference to the state’s tourist industry at that time. He left the music industry in 1969 at the top of his career to devote more time to his family. Mr. Lord then became a hotel resort developer and business leader, bringing many recreational developments to the Treasure Coast. He frequently performed for community benefits, hospitals, and local fund drives throughout South Florida. His support of student ensembles still continues after his death with significant financial commitments enabling the further education of young artists in the schools, local choruses, and music clubs of Martin County. You can hear him performing with Patsy Cline in the video below.

Tom Petty:  Musician/Recording Artist – Gainesville (1950- )
Thomas Earl Petty was born and raised in Gainesville. In 1961, his uncle brought him to the set of Elvis Presley’s movie Follow That Dream filming in Ocala. This compelled him to begin taking guitar lessons, and he dreamed of being a rock star while working as a groundskeeper at the University of Florida. He soon established a group of local like-minded musicians. Petty and his band began to attract attention under the name of Mudcrutch. Based on local acclaim, they were asked to record two demos of Petty’s compositions at Criteria Studios in Miami, which launched their career. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers now perform at the largest concert halls, have sold more than 60 million record albums, and are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As a songwriter and performer, Tom Petty is a leading figure on the contemporary music scene, and is one of the most recognized and sought-after musicians in the world. His achievements include the “hometown pride” he still engenders throughout Florida for his continued support of various community fundraising efforts. His website is

Yanis Pikieris: Dancer – Miami (1958- )
The long performing and directing career of Principal Dancer Yanis Pikieris includes dancing with major companies such as Ballet du Nord, Ballet Nacional de Caracas, and the Miami City Ballet. He founded two dance companies in Miami, Juegos Del Arte and Maximum Dance. He traveled the world, staging his work and the dance work of other choreographers. His interest in mentoring young dancers is well known. Mr. Pikieris’ dedication to dance education led him to also found the Miami Youth Ballet as a Florida training ground and performing company for tomorrow’s ballet stars. In addition, he serves as a judge in the Presidential Scholars in the Arts program. His ongoing dance staging commitments and frequent role as a contest judge continue to strengthen his international reputation. While providing a bridge for South Florida dance artists to interact with the principal dancers of South America, he still makes his home in Miami, where the school he founded with his wife, the Mencia-Pikieris School of Dance, is located.

Dr. Henry L. Porter: Singer/Music Educator – Sarasota (1948- )
Pastor, singer, choir director, producer and teacher Dr. Henry L. Porter was born and raised in Sarasota, where he is founder and leader of Sarasota’s Westcoast Center for Human Development. A Yale Doctoral Fellow who served as an African Missionary, he has been invited to perform at the White House. He founded the Westcoast Gospel Choir in 1964, performed around the country, and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003.  He recorded 17 record albums and has written more than 2,500 songs. Bishop Porter’s commitment to youth and to creative development resulted in his establishment of a K-12 Christian school in Sarasota that has graduated over 500 students; providing young artists a performing arts platform. His Florida prison ministry has brought gospel music sessions to inmates in the state for more than 30 years. He received a commendation from former Governor Jeb Bush in 1999, and the Governor’s Points of Light Award in 2002.

Frank Thomas: Folk Balladeer/Songwriter – Lake Wales (1943- )
Frank Thomas is known as the Dean of Florida Folk Music. He has received the Florida Folk Heritage Award, Jullian Prescott History Award, Florida Historical Society Golden Quill Award, the Stetson Kennedy Foundation Fellow Man & Mother Earth Award, and a state resolution honoring him from former Governor Lawton Chiles, who personally gave a pair of his “walkin’ boots” to Mr. Thomas following the Governor’s campaign trek across Florida. Frank Thomas’s original Florida songs have been performed for decades in every part of the state and in a public radio series. His reputation includes being the patriarch of balladeers at the state’s annual heritage celebration, the Florida Folk Festival, where, as host of the Suwannee River Gazebo Stage, he showcases the state’s finest songwriters. A seven-generation Floridian from a family of farmers and cowmen, his songs are firmly set in the rural history of the land and people of this state. A longtime friend of the Seminole Tribe, he is one of the few invited to remote Tribal gatherings to share songs and stories with native elders. Eminent author and Artist’s Hall of Fame inductee Patrick D. Smith refers to Frank Thomas as…”the unequivocal heir to the soul of Florida folksong.”

We will be covering the rest of the 2013 Florida Artist Hall of Fame nominees throughout the week!