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.


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Grantee Spotlight: Orlando Shakes Goes Above and Beyond with ‘The Jungle Book’

Provided by Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF

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Carlos Pereyo as Baloo and Terence Lee as Mowgli (photo by Megan Pridemore)

Orlando Shakes’ production of The Jungle Book is a retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale and will take audiences on a thrilling journey through the Indian jungle! Taken in by Mother Wolf as a baby, Mowgli, a now 11-year-old boy, has grown to know the Jungle Law and the ways of the wild. April-Dawn Gladu’s adaptation follows Mowgli and his pack of animal friends as they try to outsmart a cunning tiger who is seeking to settle an old score.

Honoring the culture in which the story takes place, “the costumes in this production are a celebration of traditional Indian dress and even include fabrics sourced from India,” says Costume Designer Mel Barger. “Our characters, like Bagheera and Shere Khan, are costumed in modified kurtas to match the silhouette of the animal they portray.”

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Andy Hansen as Kaa (photo by Megan Pridemore)

Orlando Shakes is going above and beyond to ensure that children of all ages, abilities, and locations can experience the magic of theater. In addition to sensory-friendly and ASL-interpreted performances, Orlando Shakes will be live-streaming two performances of The Jungle Book to schools outside of Orange County. Immediately following the fifty-minute live performance, students will participate in a digital live chat with the cast, hearing the answers to their questions in real time. In order to further align the event to the school curriculum, Orlando Shakes is providing a study guide with discussion topics and extension activities that align to Florida Standards normally covered during November in 2nd-5th grade.

 

“By live streaming our performances, we are reaching a whole new audience and enriching the lives of students beyond the Central Florida community,” says Anne Hering, director of education at Orlando Shakes. “Even if a school doesn’t have access to field trip funding or a live theater in their community, their students can still have a performing arts experience. ”

Schools can apply to live-stream the event at http://orlandoshakes.org/streaming. Schools must apply by November 1, 2018. This event is recommended for students in 2nd-5th grade.

ABOUT ORLANDO SHAKES

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Andy Hansen, Carlos Pereyo, and Terence Lee (photo by Megan Pridemore)

Celebrating its 30th Season, Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF, produces classic, contemporary, and children’s plays. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Managing Director PJ Albert, Orlando Shakes is one of the region’s most acclaimed professional theaters, garnering national recognition from The Wall Street Journal, “Spectacular and satisfying…Broadway-quality…impressive…come to Florida and plunge yourself in…” 

With ambitious, high-caliber productions like 2018’s Twelfth Night and Shakespeare in Love, and 2017’s The Great Gatsby and Man of La Mancha, the Theater continues to provide an innovative world-class theatrical experience to its guests, while showcasing William Shakespeare’s legacy as the cornerstone of the company. Orlando Shakes also offers immersive educational programming that serves Central Florida schools and the local community at large.

ABOUT THE JUNGLE BOOK

The Jungle Book adapted by April-Dawn Gladu, produced by Orlando Shakes in partnership with UCF, appears in the Margeson Theater from October 18 – November 16, 2018.

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Terence Lee (photo by Megan Pridemore)

The Jungle Book features Ana Martinez Medina as Raksha-Mother Wolf/Ensemble, Amanda Anne Dayton as Bandar Queen/Ensemble, Carlos Pereyo as Baloo/Ensemble, Terence Lee as Mowgli/Ensemble, Andy Hansen as Kaa/Ensemble, Mandi Lee as Messua/Ensemble and Daniel James Roth as Chil/Ensemble.

The Orlando Shakes artistic team includes Director Steve MacKinnon, Set Designer Vandy Wood, Lighting Designer Philip Lupo, Costume Designer Mel Barger, Sound Designer Britt Sandusky, ASL Coordinator Mandy Longo and Stage Manager Alyssa Zegers.

The Jungle Book is sponsored by Dr. Mary Palmer, Publix Supermarket Charities, and Florida Hospital for Children. The live stream program is made possible by the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation.

Orlando Shakes is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of OrlandoAtPlay.com and UAArtsEd.com. This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.

For more information, visit orlandoshakes.org.


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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/.


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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.


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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/.

Grantee Spotlight: MOCA Jacksonville ‘Art Aviators’

Provided by MOCA Jacksonville

MOCA JAX 3Founded in 1924 as the Jacksonville Fine Arts Society, MOCA Jacksonville is a private nonprofit visual arts educational institution and cultural institute of the University of North Florida. MOCA Jacksonville serves the community and its visitors through its mission to promote the discovery, knowledge and advancement of the art, artists and ideas MOCA JAX 2of our time.

For over a decade, MOCA Jacksonville has served the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community in Northeast Florida with its pioneering Art Aviators program. Formerly known as Rainbow Artists, the program began when a museum educator with a personal interest in working with children with special needs hosted a series of Saturday workshops for children with ASD. Art-making activities enable children with ASD to foster new means of self-expression and communication.

MOCA JAX 1Since its inception in 2017, Art Aviators has served hundreds of children throughout the region. From 2008 to 2015, Art Aviators was implemented in Duval County schools, and the curriculum was also adopted by the Coral Springs Museum of Art in South Florida.  Today, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville offers free monthly workshops for families of the ASD community to enjoy as well as free spring and summer art camps. Art Aviators harnesses art as a powerful proven means of promoting expression and social interaction among children with ASD and their teachers, caregivers, and peers.  It is our hope to be able to export this exciting curriculum to museums and organizations nationally to give them a resource to serve the ASD families in their communities.

For more information about MOCA Jacksonville and Art Aviators, visit their website at: http://mocajacksonville.unf.edu.


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Grantee Spotlight: Emerald Coast Theatre Company

Provided by Emerald Coast Theatre Company

Cats--28Emerald Coast Theatre Company exists to inspire, educate, and empower the community and artists of all ages to achieve the highest level of cultural excellence through collaboration, productions, and educational programs that promote lifelong learning and provide excellent, professional entertainment in the Emerald Coast Community. The company was founded in 2012 by husband-and-wife team, Nathanael and Anna Fisher, who serve as producing artistic director and associate IMG_8794artistic director, respectively.

Having returned to the Destin area after completing their graduate studies, the Fishers identified a community need for performing arts educational theatre as well as professional theatre in the area. Furthermore, the opportunities for elementary, and middle school students to be involved in theatre were slim-to-none. Many students did not have the opportunity to be exposed to or involved with theatre before reaching ninth grade. The Fishers aimed to fill that void, and sought the advice and consultation of the long-established Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, which asserted the community’s need for a comprehensive professional and educational theatre company.

IMG_8861What started as an afterschool program with ten students at Destin Elementary has now grown to a comprehensive, multi-level education program with over 400 students enrolled per year, serving children in Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay counties. Four of the original ten students are still involved with the company, and ECTC has developed satellite programs at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City and at Rise Dance Center in Destin.

Nathanael Fisher credits some of the program’s successes to the rapid growth-rate in the area. Many families relocating to the Destin-area are coming from larger cities, where comprehensive professional and educational theatre is commonplace. Emerald Coast Theatre Company is able to offer a successful, multi-faceted program that is comparable to those in larger cities.

IMG_6781Most of Emerald Coast Theatre Company’s camps and classes are production-based, meaning that every student enrolled has the opportunity to participate in a fully-staged production. The classes meet for two hours a week for ten to fifteen weeks. Nathanael and Anna are passionate about fostering community. The primary goal for ECTC is to create a space where children really feel like they “belong” and can explore and develop their creativity in a welcoming and safe environment.

IMG_4979As they continue to grow and evolve, ECTC is committed to expanding beyond their immediate area and aims to reach schools in the north of the county, where there is a higher population of Title I schools. They have started a scholarship program to make theatre accessible to all children and are also actively seeking grants to help sponsor more Title I schools for their Theatre for Young Audiences program.  They are also committed to reaching the growing homeschool population in the Destin area, and are continuing to expand their homeschool programming.

For more information, visit their website at: http://www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org.


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