Art Talk: Stephanie Martino of Florida Film Institute

We sat down recently with Stephanie Martino of Florida Film Institute to discuss FFI’s upcoming (and redesigned for online) 2020 Summer Film Camp.

Stephanie is the Director of CINEMA, a program designed to empower aspiring young filmmakers and to prepare them for the film industry in Florida.

Stephanie Martino

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Stephanie: As a young child, I was always fascinated with the arts and creative platforms. I have studied and worked in fashion, interior design and painting. All of those endeavors have led me to love and have a passion for filmmaking.

DCA: How long have you worked in Florida? 

Stephanie: I have lived and worked in South Florida since 1989.

DCA: What is the best part about your job? 

Stephanie: My job, teaching and working with budding young filmmakers, is very rewarding. I am proud that the Institute extends the knowledge and process behind filmmaking to eager young students who want to learn. Some of them actually choose film as a future career path as a direct result of participating in our CINEMA program. I also enjoy working in a team environment with my loyal and dedicated staff members.

DCA: Tell us a little bit about your organization. What are you currently working on? 

Stephanie: Well…due to the pandemic, our upcoming summer film camp will now take place virtually! Even though we cannot be together in person, we are moving forward online and celebrating the 10th anniversary of producing our award-winning summer film camp in partnership with The Coral Gables Art Cinema!

FFI’s Cinematographers in Education and Media Arts (CINEMA) program provides an enriching after-school experience for teens interested in pursuing filmmaking. This year, we are providing a virtual hands-on learning environment at our 2020 Summer Film Camp for interested high school students to learn about the art, business and science of filmmaking.

Camp attendees pose during the 2019 FFI Summer Film Camp at Coral Gables Art Cinema

The upcoming six-week, intense filmmaking camp will begin June 15, 2020 until July 24, 2020. The camp will meet via ZOOM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 1pm. This camp is geared to high school students ages 13 to 18 who seek an opportunity to practice formal film production methods. Students will even be able to use their own devices to create projects, mainly their smartphones, which are becoming a dynamic tool used in filmmaking!

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that your organization makes to your community?

Stephanie: We are very proud of CINEMA, a multi-level learning platform, and how it provides local students with a creative and engaging outlet if they wish to focus on their artistic path now in high school, and to prepare for a possible future career in film.

“Next of Kin”, selected as best narrative film poster during the 2019/2020 school year

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”? Why are the arts and culture important to our state? 

Stephanie: Florida is not just about sunshine and beaches, although those are great things our state offers!

“Culture Builds Florida” is a great motto and resource for those that enjoy the arts, but personally I am grateful to the CBF blog for publishing content with their grantee organizations like Florida Film Institute, and helping to enhance our mission to educate young adults in our diverse communities about filmmaking and the opportunities it can provide.

DCA: Anything you would like to add?

Stephanie: Yes, thanks for asking — despite the ongoing pandemic, FFI has turned a negative into a positive. We responded by broadening our programming and recreating our cutting-edge, virtual CINEMA program. We are so excited to implement this platform for our 2020 summer film camp students and to give them an unforgettable experience!


The Division thanks Stephanie Martino and Florida Film Institute for their participation in this interview.
For more info about the upcoming 2020 Summer Film Camp, scholarship opportunities and to register, visit: https://flfilminstitute.org/programs-summer-film-camp/

Interested in having your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Click HERE to access the proposal form (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Grantee Feature: Tampa Theatre Remains a Beacon in the Midst of Pandemic

About Tampa Theatre
Built in 1926, Tampa Theatre is a passionately protected landmark and one of America’s best-preserved movie palaces. The majestic movie palace is owned by the City of Tampa and operated by the not-for-profit Tampa Theatre Foundation, whose mission is to protect, preserve and program the Theatre as a dynamic film and cultural center for its community.

On Thursday, March 12, Tampa Theatre made the difficult decision to close in the face of rising concerns over COVID-19. Nearly three months later, the movie palace remains closed, waiting for the opportunity to reopen safely. We asked long-time President and CEO John Bell what the organization has been doing during the shutdown to stay connected with its community.

Tampa Theatre’s marquee thanking front-line responders in the COVID crisis.

In an average year, the historic Tampa Theatre welcomes guests to 700+ film screenings, live shows, fundraisers, tours, community events and educational programs. Over the past two years, the 1926 movie palace has set attendance and box office records – success launched in large part by the December 2017 completion of the landmark’s first major restoration project in 40 years.

On March 12, that upward trend came to a screeching halt.

CEO John Bell wrote in an email to patrons:

“This beautiful landmark has welcomed tens of millions of people over the past 94 years, but now it feels forlorn and abandoned, work halted mid-stream when its caretakers were sent home to stay safe.”

The Theatre remains dark over COVID-19 concerns.

In the days immediately following the closure, team members were consumed with communicating cancellations and issuing refunds. But they quickly turned their efforts to finding innovative ways to stay relevant and engaged.

Regular “social streaming” suggestions on the Theatre’s social media pages offer themed playlists of movies easily found on popular streaming channels for film fans, and weekly Friday Movie Trivia contests invite Facebook followers to show off their cinematic knowledge.

“Today’s technology gives us the unique ability to stay connected with film lovers virtually.”

John Bell, CEO of Tampa Theatre

In partnership with fellow art house cinemas and independent film distributors across the country, Tampa Theatre launched a Virtual Cinema program that offers ticketed screenings of new releases and specialty films, a portion of which directly benefits the Theatre. In more recent weeks, patrons have had the opportunity to bring home a taste of Tampa Theatre: Popcorn Pickup dates offer to-go popcorn, candy and other concessions to enjoy during those living-room screenings.

Popcorn Pickup offers to-go concessions on select Fridays in-front of the Theatre.

The Tampa Theatre Movie School initiative gives parents with kids of all ages the tools to make movies the basis for guided research, art, dramatic play and discussion-based learning. Soon, the Theatre plans to announce week-long virtual programs to replace their popular Summer Film Camp that isn’t able to start this month as originally planned.

“We’ve always felt that nothing can rival the magic of coming to a majestic movie palace to enjoy great cinema. So while it hurts not to be able to welcome our fans and friends to gather in person, we continue to look for ways to provide unique cinematic experiences for our patrons.”

That technology, Bell says, is what made it possible for Tampa Theatre to make a return to its 1926 roots recently by live-streaming a silent film, accompanied by an organist playing to an empty auditorium. The General, LIVE!, which featured acclaimed organist Dr. Steven Ball on the Mighty Wurlitzer,streamed on the Theatre’s Facebook page for about 200 viewers, and has since been viewed several hundred more times on YouTube.

Dr. Steven Ball plays to an empty auditorium, surrounded by webcams.

“It seems almost trite at this point to say that we are in a period of profound uncertainty: We are all taking this day by day, week by week, and month by month… But I do know one thing for certain: when this has passed, people will need the beautiful, historic Tampa Theatre more than ever as a place to gather, embrace each other, and celebrate our collective humanity once again.”

For more information, please visit Tampa Theatre online at www.TampaTheatre.org or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @tampatheatre.


*Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form HERE
(Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Grantee Feature: Lighthouse ArtCenter Announces ‘Super Summer’ ArtCamp & Exhibition

​Founded in 1964 by a group of artists including Christopher Norton of the Norton family (Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach), the member-supported Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery and School of Art has been dedicated to providing artistic programing and cultural opportunities to people in Palm Beach and Martin Counties for 56 years, offering exhibitions, outreach programs and dynamic workshops and classes for youth and adults.

The Lighthouse ArtCenter is pleased to announce their upcoming Super Summer ArtCamp which will run June 1 – July 31, 2020 and will feature the work of world-class puppeteers, FX animation engineers, concept originators, and character designers who specialize in “prototypes and peculiarities.”

‘Gru’ by Carter Goodrich; ‘Super Summer’ design by Fernando Porras

Nowhere else in the world do kids have the chance to create art with some of America’s finest character designers, illustrators, and animation engineers. And, although the fun is happening right here in the heart of Tequesta, Florida, they don’t have to be at our location to enjoy it!

Opening June 1, 2020, the Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery will feature a lively art exhibition of works created by world-class puppeteers, FX animation engineers, and concept originators. Some of the featured artists will include masters in the field of animated movies like Carter Goodrich, who gave us the characters for Finding Nemo, Despicable Me, and Shrek. There will also be dynamic life-size puppets displayed from the award-winning plays Beauty and the Beast and The Wiz.

by Carter Goodrich
Carter Goodrich

But the Lighthouse ArtCenter’s School of Art has joined in to take this opportunity one giant leap further. Their ArtCamps have inspired creativity in local youth every summer for the past 30 years. Carrying on tradition, this year’s camp titled Super Summer is being refashioned as an interactive “ArtCamp in a Box.” The carefully designed camp for children between the ages of 6 and 12 will combine independent exploration, some parental supervision and three optional, interactive, instructor-lead zoom sessions. 

Matt Ficner

Each week, the registered camp attendees will receive their “ArtCamp in a Box” by mail or curbside pick-up. On Monday, they first open their box that includes everything needed for all of their projects for the week. In the box they will receive a surprise “How-To” character design created uniquely for the Lighthouse ArtCenter by one of the nationally acclaimed artists on display in the gallery. Unique lesson plans made by esteemed instructors will expand on the initial character design and encourage children to imagine and create their own worlds. On Friday, the week will end with a virtual show-and-tell, allowing the students to share what they created with the camp. 

by Russ Cox
Russ Cox

“Through conversations with our young artist community and their parents, we learned that students need creative outlets now more than ever. They also need opportunities beyond the computer or tablet,” says Director of Education, Maria Tritico. “That is why we designed ArtCamp in a Box. This camp is one-of-a-kind and the exciting lessons take children on a journey that stretches as far as their imaginations, from the comfort of wherever they might be…”

Patrick Girouard

As local children are allowed to venture out into public once again, they can visit the Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery and join us to social distance alongside drawings from the brilliant artists behind video games for Surf’s Up, animations for VeggieTales, National Geographic World publications, Highlights Hidden Pictures books, Microsoft Word’s “Clippy” character, best-selling picture books and more. For more information, visit the Lighthouse ArtsCenter Super Summer Exhibit page.

“Never have the arts been more important to the well-being of our vibrant community, and never have artists who create for children been more generous with their time and their talent. It’s proof, once again, that all great art begins at home, wherever that home may be.” – Janeen Mason, Curator

Students and parents are encouraged to share their progress throughout the week by tagging @lighthousearts and using the hashtags #LighthouseArtCenter, #SuperSummer, #ArtCampInaBox on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.               


Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form HERE (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Art Talk: Leiland Theriot, Executive Director of Florida Alliance for Arts Education

Leiland Theriot is Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). The Division of Cultural Affairs recently talked with Leiland about FAAE’s newest partnership with Interactive Academy to provide teaching artists and students access to virtual arts education and remote classes.

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Can you tell us a little bit about FAAE?

Leiland: The Florida Alliance for Arts Education was founded by Dr. June Hinkley (FDOE) and Dr. Mary Palmer (UCF Dean) in collaboration with arts educators and agencies from around the state, including the Department of Education and Division of Cultural Affairs, to establish the Arts for a Complete Education (ACE) coalitions.  Our mission is to improve, enhance, and promote arts education in the state of Florida.  We are currently funded by the FDOE ACE Grant and by two grants from DCA: one for General Support and the other from the National Endowment for the Arts Special Initiative.

DCA: FAAE’s new partnership with the Interactive Academy to provide arts education classes through a virtual platform is particularly timely. How will it work?

Leiland: The FAAE and the Interactive Academy will partner with teaching artists anywhere in the state to remotely continue to provide arts instruction to their students. The delivery can be to one student, or 20, or 1000. IA has several delivery platforms available. The FAAE is the paymaster, registration, and additional marketing. There are no costs initially, and the three will split the net revenue evenly. The best thing is that the platforms are secure and private!

DCA: What was the genesis of the project?

Leiland: Ricardo Canchola (IA) approached me in January at Arts in the Capital Day. We began our discussion, thinking we might have everything worked out by maybe the summer or fall. And then the Coronavirus Pandemic happened, and we were watching our friends losing their “gig” pay. We had respond quickly to try and get them working again.

DCA: Teaching artists are a valuable resource. Are you looking for particular disciplines?

Leiland: No, we are not. You can do any arts discipline. There is a warning for musicians, however – live ensemble playing does not work on any digital platform, due to latency issues.  We do have other options, however, that will work for delivering music instruction.

DCA: What qualifications does a teaching artist need to take part in the program?

Leiland: Our teaching artist should have a high level of content knowledge, and have had experience in delivering online lessons. This is fairly simple to learn the digital platform, and Ricardo has developed video tutorials and is willing to chat with anyone having difficulties. You will need a laptop with video and audio (camera and mic), and your ping speed should be around 20-30 mbps at minimum, around 50 mbps on uploads if you plan to livestream. Visit Speed Test to check your speed.

DCA: How does a teaching artist sign up?

Leiland: Click HERE for the proposal form. You can also get there by going to https://www.faae.org. The first banner on the landing page has a button that takes you to the page for the Interactive Academy, and there you will find a button to Submit a Proposal.

DCA: How do you plan to attract students to the platform?

Leiland: The FAAE has email distribution lists for memberships (over 3500), local arts agencies, and public schools arts supervisors (who will send to teachers to send to students). Also, most teaching artists already have access to the emails for past participants.

DCA: What is the ultimate goal of the initiative?

Leiland: Our initial goal is to get teaching artists working again. However, once we have a solid revenue stream it is our intention to use it to support our mission – to improve, enhance, and promote arts education. There are four school districts with less than 20% arts education. Those districts do not have elementary music or visual art classes for their students. I would like to see what we could do to change that.

DCA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Leiland: I left teaching three years ago to be the Executive Director of the FAAE. I have never regretted that. I love being able to work with such consummate professional artists, teaching artist, and arts educators. It has been a blessing to work with the people at the Division of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Education to support arts instruction throughout the state. Thank you!

The Division thanks Leiland Theriot and Florida Alliance for Arts Education for their participation in this interview. To learn more about FAAE, visit their website: https://www.faae.org/

Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Click HERE fro the proposal form (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Pat Williams

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 Pat Williams. Williams was appointed to the council in 2017 by former President of the Senate Joe Negron. 

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Tell us a little bit about yourself

Williams: Art: I study it, I travel to see it, I buy it and though I never did make any of note myself, I cannot imagine life without it. I brought my love of art with me when I moved to Stuart, Florida 22 years ago from Chicago, leaving behind cold winters and the beloved Art Institute. 

Soon after coming to Florida I was tapped to write a weekly column for the Palm Beach Post and then, in 2004, I took on the role of founding editor of Luminaries, Treasure Coast Newspapers’ weekly magazine covering local non-profits and charities. It was a chance to design and edit new weekly publication under the Scripps brand for a couple of years. The next adventure started when I was recruited to join the legendary Boston based PR firm Regan Communications. It was there where I earned any serious PR chops I have today. I served as Vice-President of Florida operations.   After a few years there, I hung out my shingle and opened Pat Williams & Associates, fearing the phone would never ring. We had four clients the first week.

From day one, the firm specialized in breakthrough campaigns built around my mantra: if it’s not first, best or different, then it’s not news. We represented leaders in business, law, finance, bio-medical research, education, philanthropy and the arts, and gathered a few awards along the way.

My zeal for art got rolling in the 1950s when the good Sisters of St. Joseph devoted a full 30 minutes every other Friday to giving us art lessons which meant copying a picture.   The process did not set me on fire, but those pictures that were supposed to inspire us sure did. Surrounded by art at home, I grew up knowing art was as essential to everyday life as knives and forks. I went on to get my degree in English and Anthropology and took most of my electives in art history.

In Martin County, I served on the boards of The Elliott Museum, The Pine School, The Arts Council of Martin County and Woman’s Club of Stuart, where I was president for two years. I joined Impact 100 Martin and Women Supporting the Arts as a founding member. Each organization involved the arts in some way that intrigued me.

For pure joy, I like working with creative people on projects with a steep learning curve that involves risk. To feed that beast, I produced a documentary, “Jane Davis Doggett: Wayfinder in the Jet Age,” two years ago.  It got picked up by PBS and then nominated for an Emmy and is now in syndication. Working with immensely talented people on the film is probably the closest I have come to understanding why artists crave the creative process.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida”?

Williams: Culture Builds Florida tells me the third most populated state in the nation understands the role culture plays in the life of great nations and great states. Lyndon Johnson said this when the National Endowment for the Arts was funded in 1965, “It is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves, and to others, the vision which guides us as a nation. Art is a nation’s most precious heritage.”

DCA: Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Williams: Three reasons: the arts are a proven economic engine; they are powerful force to enrich the lives residents and visitors; and they provide a universal language that creates connection and understanding among people from different backgrounds.

DCA: For you, what is the most inspiring part about working in the arts?

Williams: When I see the hard evidence that thriving arts communities become a centerpiece of education, entertainment and economic growth in towns and cities across Florida.

DCA: What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Florida Council on Arts and Culture?

Williams: I would like to see the arts more accessible to people in every county in Florida, not just in the population centers.

Grantee Feature: The Naples Players – Responding to the Current Crisis

The Naples Players is a nationally-recognized community theatre. Founded in 1953, they fulfill their mission to enrich, educate and entertain the community through dozens of educational programs for adults and kids alike, children’s theatre, live concerts, residencies and comedy nights in addition to their regular performance season. A true community theatre, their 650 volunteers put in more than 65,000 hours per year.

How does an organization respond to a ban on gatherings of large numbers of people when their artistic medium requires such gatherings? We asked Executive Artistic Director Bryce Alexander about the adjustments Naples Players have made in order to reach out to and serve their community.

Hospital masks made by Naples Players volunteers

The Naples Players has called itself a “theatre for the community” since we were founded 67 years ago. It is this very creed that has kept The Naples Players operating – even in an augmented form – during these challenging times.  

Like many people, our first impression of COVID-19 came from social media. So, too, did our first act of community service. The Naples Players utilizes more than 650 volunteers for more than 65,000 volunteer hours every year. After understanding that the theatre would have to shut its doors to performances, Resident Costume Designer Dot Auchmoody saw a Facebook post containing a pattern to build surgical masks. She quickly realized that this was a way the costume staff and volunteers could continue to utilize their skills. A call was placed to the local hospital, and an offer made to use any of our remaining bolts of fabric to create surgical style masks. The hospital requested 300. It was only a matter of days until the hospital called, needing as many masks as had already been created.  

Combining the effort of the staff in alternating shifts at the theatre, volunteers were also able to contribute – and were given “take-home” kits to continue making masks at home. Word quickly spread about our efforts, and a local printing company offered to use their laser cutters to cut the fabric patterns of the masks. This collaboration allowed high-precision, high-output capacity of the masks while furthering our business relationships – all the while continuing to engage and train our volunteers. We continue to make masks today, providing them to hospitals, nursing homes, and others who may need them. 

Intubation box made by Naples Players

This effort was utilized in the scene shop, too: when Assistant Technical Director Chase Lilienthal realized he could use leftover plexiglass to create intubation boxes, a critical shield for protecting doctors and nurses when intubating patients. A simple pattern was built, and the boxes have become another added tool to help protect our community’s heroes. 

At the same time, our Education Department began to think of the impact this crisis would have on students. Serving more than 1,200 students on-site in classes every year, we know that the social and imaginative access our programs provide our students would be critical to their at-home education. In only 1 week, all of the education programs, for every age and level, were modified and moved to electronic formats. Not only has this provided the students continuity and connection, it has inspired the theatre to evaluate ways to bring virtual classes to underserved populations in the future. Parents have been overwhelmingly thankful for the outlet this has provided. Adult students crave the voice the classes provide as well. 

Online improv class for students from the STARability Foundation

The Naples Players has made news in the past for creating a “Director of Community Wellness and Education” to connect arts education with wellness programs, and just this week provided 30 students with disabilities from the STARability Foundation a virtual improv class to discuss emotions and current events, hosted an “Improv for Isolation” class for 15 adults, and provided free virtual yoga on our social media platforms. These efforts will continue weekly. As April is National Poetry Month, we will be calling for poems related to COVID-19 to be submitted, and they will be given dramatic readings by local performers.  

Finally, we’ve been able to utilize our technical departments and artists to create digital content that continues to promote the arts and engage with our community. Live-streaming concerts have been viewed by 5k+ people just this week,  and virtual sing-a-longs and virtual cabarets have called on quarantined artists to submit their performances digitally.  

Improv for Isolation flyer/graphic

The Naples Players could lose close to $500,000 to cancelled performances through June. Our endowment saw its value fall by more than $1.5m since this crisis began. Knowing the endowment funds exist for times of need, we’ve been standing strong to continue serving our community – and the community has responded. Subscriptions to next season continue to sell, small donations have been flooding in and online engagement has continued to allow us to spread the arts further than ever before.  

The financial impacts of this shutdown will be deep. Reliance on the generosity of our community is going to be crucial. Most importantly, we know our patrons, donors, and volunteers are embracing our position as a theatre for community – and together we will all get through this.  

Art Talk: Sheila Womble, Executive Director of Arts for Learning

Ms. Womble is a Miami native and has over 15 years of arts leadership experience. She drove Arts for Learning through a significant period of growth and transition by increasing the annual budget over 55% in one year as a result of expanding programs and evaluating initiatives. Her leadership has helped Arts for Learning develop programs that serve children from infancy through high school, allowing Miami’s youth additional opportunities to grow with the arts.

She previously managed a private art collection, handled artists, and community relations and marketing services for ArtCenter/South Florida. She holds a degree in Art History & Anthropology from the University of Miami, and she studied at the Institute for American Studies in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Chat Travieso, students and Sheila Womble

Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA): Why did you choose a career in the arts?

Sheila: I chose a career in the arts because the arts are important to me; they are ever changing, reflecting, challenging and most importantly an endless source of provocation, interest, and beauty.

DCA: How long have you worked in Florida?

Sheila: I am a Miami native and have worked here for 25 years.

DCA: What is the best part of your job?

Sheila: Leading an arts organization, particularly a youth arts organization, has many brilliant and demanding components. The part of my job I enjoy the most is supporting my team, ensuring that they can thrive and succeed.

DCA: Tell us a little bit about your organization. What are you currently working on?

Sheila: Arts for Learning is an amazing organization with the mission of advancing teaching and learning through the arts. Our vision is that Miami’s youngest residents, from infancy through high school, are empowered by the arts to thrive in the world with knowledge, creativity and passion. We deliver programs at preschools, schools and out-of-school locations to reach more than 5,000 children each year. We currently have two very special initiatives. We have partnered with Easter Seals South Florida to work in all of their Head Start Classrooms to make sure our youngest and often most vulnerable residents can thrive and develop key social-emotional skills through the use of the arts in the classroom. We also are in the final stages of working with teens from the Liberty City community to create public works of art that honor the history of their neighborhood while also investigating the remnants of a segregation wall from the 1930s. The students explore the policies of that time that still affect their community, families and schools.

DCA: In your opinion, what is the greatest contribution that your organization makes to your community?

Sheila: We give children of all ages and abilities the chance to create. It seems like a simple concept but having a child conceive of an idea, conduct research, learn new techniques (in any artistic discipline) and create a work is to give them a voice and a platform. It is powerful.

DCA: What do you think of when you hear “Culture Builds Florida?” Why are the arts and culture important to our state?

Sheila: Culture is everything, without culture there is no foundation to build mutual understanding or communication. It is the soul of a community or entity. The arts are a critical part of culture; they help define and shape us as people. When I hear “Culture Builds Florida,” it reinforces what really matters which is how we live our daily lives including what we should prioritize, invest in and nurture.

Arts for Learning video

The Division thanks Sheila Womble and Arts for Learning Miami affiliate for their participation in this interview. To learn more about Arts for Learning, visit their website: http://www.a4lmiami.org/.

Interested in being featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2 (Note: submission does not guarantee inclusion.)

Culture in Florida: November 2019

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.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of November:


FEATURED FESTIVALS

At the start of November, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum hosted the American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) in the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. The festival visitors got to experience dances, native music and meet some wildlife. The festival offered a variety of performances and vendors who brought silverwork, beadwork, woodwork, leatherwork, basketry, photography, paintings, jewelry and an array of food.

event flyer

The Chalk Festival presented its second festival for the year at the Venice Airport Fairgrounds where artists are given a space to create over-sized masterpieces. The Chalk Festival is known for displaying large 3D pavement illusions in one location, but visitors also experienced traditional paintings and original artworks. The “Garden of Wonders” Chalk Festival was open for four days and featured events like the Pavement Music Festival, artistic vendors, performers and food vendors.

A couple taking a picture in one of the Chalk Festival artworks, see original picture on Facebook

SPECIAL EVENTS

The 78th Annual North Florida Fair took place in Tallahassee, FL from November 7th to 17th. The fair was filled with entertainment, food, thrilling rides, educational exhibits and so much more.

Sandtastic Sand Sculpture in the Marketplace building

From November 22nd to 24th. the Professional Development for Artists Workshop took place at Panama City Center for the Arts hosted by Bay Arts Alliance. Artists learned about funding, promoting, growing their business and find resources for sustainability and disaster preparedness.

Final day of Professional Development for Artists Workshop

OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Gulfshore Playhouse started their production of It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and will performing through December 29th. Prepare to go back to the 1940s in a radio studio where actors will be broadcasting Frank Capra’s film. The show features five actors (Andrea Prestinario, Brian Owen, James Leaming, Jeffrey Binder and Keri Safran) who take on each character and produce live sound effects.

Pictured: Keri Safran in It’s A Wonderful Life, see original post on Facebook

On November 23rd, the Museum of Florida History had an open reception for donated landscape art collection by Ron Risner. The 163 paintings in the collection illustrate Florida’s diverse terrain, featuring springs, rivers and forests.

Henry Von Genk III, Drifting over the Glades, 1988

The Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami reopened on November 26th with an exhibition featuring Alice Rahon’s “Poetic Invocations.” The exhibition is guest curated by Mexico City-based art historian, Tere Arcq. The exhibition aims to contribute and recognize under-explored female artists and the European art influences in the Americas.

Next Morning, 1958, 43 7/8 x 76 3/4 inches, Collection of Frances and Don Baxter

UPCOMING IN DECEMBER

The United States premiere of Chopin: The Space Concert, a documentary film by Adam Ustynowicz will feature members of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra and Polish soloists. The premiere will take place at the Kennedy Space Center on December 5th at 7 PM.

On December 15th, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida will perform at the brand new Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The Chorus will be celebrating their 10th season with singer/songwriter, Jordin Sparks.

Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida event flyer

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: Florida Repertory Theatre

ABOUT FLORIDA REPERTORY THEATRE

The Florida Repertory Theatre (Florida Rep) is a professional regional theatre company in Southwest Florida. Since 1998, Florida Rep has produced a variety of comedies, dramas and musicals. With over 87,000 people attending each year, this theatre has become an essential part of Lee County’s cultural, economic and educational vitality. Their commitment is to create, nurture and develop long-term relationships in the community through arts and accessibility.


Florida Repertory Theatre believes that the arts should be shared with everyone. Florida Rep outreaches to the visually impaired and Blind community by offering Audio Description services at a performance for each play in our Arcade and ArtStage Studio Theatres. Audio Description involves the accessibility of the visual images of theater to people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired. Using words that are succinct, vivid, and imaginative, audio describers convey the live action on the stage though an earpiece to the patron. We also provide Braille programs.

Florida Rep also strives to eliminate barriers to attendance for patrons who are hard of hearing or Deaf. Patrons at any performance, in both theatres, can request high tech listening devices; the Williams Sound Amplifier System or the Inductive Hearing Loop System for hearing aids. These devices amplify and clarify sound. We also provide theatregoers who use American Sign Language an ASL performance for the Arcade Theatre shows.

An American Sign Language performance of Florida Rep’s education production, Junie B. Jones – The Musical

DCA funding, along with additional grants and private & corporate donations, has helped pay for these accessibility assistance programs, making art accessible to every audience member in our community in the effort to bring theater to those who otherwise would not have access to the arts. Our next ASL performance of An Inspector Calls will be on Dec 8 at 2pm, and the Audio Description performance will be on 12/15/19 at 2 pm.

See a full schedule of these performances for Florida Rep’s Season 22.

Banner of Florida Rep’s latest production, An Inspector Calls. Photo from Florida Rep’s website

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Culture in Florida: October 2019

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.

October was a busy month for the Division as we celebrated our 50th Anniversary at the Ringling Museum, home to a Museum of Art, the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, the Circus Museums and the Historic Asolo Theater. The Ringling is the State Art Museum of Florida administered by Florida State University.

Here’s a sample of arts and culture around the state for the month of October:

FEATURED EVENTS

Your Real Stories Gallery & Studio closed their 6th Annual Story Days in Tampa Bay with an art walk and closing reception at the ArtsXchange.

Event flyer on Your Real Stories’ website

The Museum of Arts & Sciences opened three exhibits last month: Biodiversity in the Art of Carel Peiter Brest van Kempen, Volusia Wilderness Captured: Florida Paintings by Sandra Lloyd, and Painting with Paper: The Art of Akiko Sugiyama.

Wave of seeds (2014), Akiko Sugiyama, vellum, watercolor, foam board

SPECIAL REPORT

The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine and ArtPlace America released: Creating Healthy Communities through Cross-sector Collaboration! Read the full report: https://arts.ufl.edu/sites/creating-healthy-communities/resources/white-paper/

The report presents over 250 thought leaders from public health, arts and culture, and community development sectors who convened between 2018 and 2019. In addition to their voices, over 500 people participated in a national field survey and focus groups. The paper offers examples and recommendations for expanding cross-sector collaboration and innovation.


50TH CELEBRATION

The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County hosted the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA) 50th Anniversary Celebration. Members of the DCA staff, Florida Council on Arts & Culture, and leaders of the Local Arts Agencies (LAA) were greeted on October 1 with a reception at Florida Studio Theatre.

The following day was filled with business meetings hosted at Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Ringling Museum. Afterwards, everyone joined local elected officials and arts executives for a celebration in the Ringling Courtyard. Jim Shirley, the Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, served as the master of ceremonies. The DCA staff, Florida Council on Arts & Culture, and LAA leaders were welcomed by the Director of the Division of Cultural Affairs, Sandy Shaughnessy, and the Executive Director of the Ringling, Steven High.

The Florida Secretary of State, Laurel Lee addressed the audience and presented featuring performances by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and a recent finalist on America’s Got Talent, Emanne Beasha.

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe performing
Emanne Beasha performing
Anniversary cake in the Ringling Courtyard

Stay tuned for an upcoming release of the Division’s 50th Anniversary book, 50 Stories for 50 Years. This book will feature individual artists, fellows, festivals, community centers, local arts agencies, and arts organizations throughout Florida. The book will include the lasting impacts of state funding on arts and culture in Florida’s diverse environments and communities.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Check out the wonderful collection of landscape art donated by Florida resident Ron Risner at the Museum of Florida History. The 163 paintings in the collection illustrate Florida’s unique and varied terrain throughout the sunshine state. The public is invited to the opening reception on November 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. For more information, call the Museum of Florida History at (850)-245-6400 or go to www.museumoffloridahistory.com.

banner for Risner’s exhibition

If you haven’t already, apply for South Arts‘ Southern Prize and State Fellowships! Nine artists will share $80,000 in awards and be featured in a touring exhibition. All artists will receive $5,000 State Fellowship where one will be named Southern Prize finalist, receiving an additional $10,000 and one will be named Southern Prize winner, receiving an additional $25,000 and a 2-week residency at the Hambridge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences. The deadline to apply is December 3. For more information go to https://www.southarts.org/individual-artists/southern-prize-artist-fellowships/?fbclid=IwAR1OgmP4nPQlZVMg4LkCZWkySMeGciROsQ5jFLqoU_XuiL6dUsSV0Z7ZDkM.

Southern Prize artwork square

Make sure to check in with your local arts council this month as performing arts organizations begin their new seasons across the state!


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