Postcard from St. Lucie County

submitted by Jennifer Trefelner

In the first post of our Postcard From series, here are three cultural attractions to visit in St. Lucie county. “Come for a visit and see why we love calling this area home,” says Jennifer Trefelner, acting executive director of the Arts & Cultural Alliance of St. Lucie County.

The A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery

A.E. Backus Gallery, photo submitted

Located in historic downtown Fort Pierce, the museum is a worthwhile stop on any visitor’s itinerary. The museum’s ample free parking provides convenient access to other area attractions, casual waterside dining and boutique shopping. The A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery, a 5,000 sq. ft. public visual arts facility, was established in 1960 by A.E. Backus and a group of local art enthusiasts. Open five days a week from October through mid-June (summer hours by appointment) the museum features the Nation’s largest display of original paintings by Albert Ernest Backus.

Zora Heale Hurston Heritage Trail

Zora Neale Hurston Trail, photo submitted

The St. Lucie County Library System received a grant through the Florida Humanities Council to produce a Heritage Trail in honor of Zora Neale Hurston. The City of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County School District, St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners, St. Lucie County Historical Commission, the St. Lucie County Cultural Affairs Department and the St. Lucie Historical Society joined together to work on this project to chronologically represent Ms. Hurston’s impact on St. Lucie County. St. Lucie County and the City of Fort Pierce were awarded a 2004 Roy F. Kenzie Award by the Florida Redevelopment Association, naming the Trail the “Outstanding Cultural Enhancement” for the year.

The Sunrise Theatre for Performing Arts

The 1,200 seat Sunrise Theatre, located in historic downtown Fort Pierce presents national touring musical and comedy acts, Broadway shows, ballet and opera companies with full orchestras. The Sunrise Theatre directly benefits the economy and quality of life in St. Lucie County by attracting visitors from other cities, counties and states. Located within the Theatre complex is the 220-seat black box, a state-of-the-art multi-dimensional space, offering a variety of local/regional programming for organizations and renters throughout the season.

For more information on visiting St. Lucie County, point your browser to Look for arts and culture activities under the “Cultural Activities” section of the site.

Postcard from Tampa: Culture Builds Florida Conference

by Jennifer Hoesing

The Culture Builds Florida Conference participants in the Jaeb Theatre at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Sandy Shaughnessy.

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts was the setting for Tuesday’s official launch of the Culture Builds Florida campaign. Our agency, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, planned a day-long conference to celebrate the successes of arts and culture, and to introduce the new Culture Builds Florida initiative. More than 200 arts and cultural administrators, artists, business representatives and cultural patrons joined us for the day’s events.

The day began with remarks from Florida’s Secretary of State and Chief Cultural Officer, Kurt S. Browning. Secretary Browning mentioned some of the tangible benefits arts and culture bring to Florida, like the 88,000 full time equivalent jobs non-profit arts and culture generated annually, the $3 billion of direct economic activity spurred by the same organizations and impressive statistics about out-of-state cultural tourists, who stay longer and spend more than other travelers.

We heard from three individuals who are making contributions to Florida’s arts and cultural community. The first was Fran Powers, executive director of Powerstories Theatre, whose organizations has served over 10,000 people in the past 12 years. Gus Nick Paras, AIA architect, spoke about the ways architecture contributes to Florida’s cultural landscape. Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse called on the audience to think of artists as small businesses, contributing to the economy and leading business innovation.

After a short break, Senator Nancy Detert, Representative Rich Glorioso and Representative Seth McKeel presented the group with tips for increasing advocacy success. The elected officials urged those present to educate their elected officials about arts and culture, and to shout from the mountain tops the value of arts and culture. The seventy-five minute session, which included time for questions and answers, was moderated by Malinda Horton, executive director of the Florida Association of Museums.

After a lunch break, the learning sessions resumed with sessions on social media and partnerships. The afternoon concluded with keynote remarks from Randy Cohen, Vice President for Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts. Mr. Cohen spoke about the economic impact of arts, culture and creative industries.

There has never been a more important time for our industry to speak about the benefits of arts and culture. Arts and culture can lead us to prosperity. They can and will make a difference. As our campaign moves ahead, we aim to show the ways arts and culture bring out the best in each of Florida’s 67 counties. We will tell the story loudly and proudly: Culture Builds Florida.

Tuesday’s conference was just the start.