Meet the Florida Council on Arts and Culture: Rivers H. Buford, III

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 Rivers Buford. Rivers was appointed to the council in 2019 by Governor DeSantis. 

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

Rivers: As a Government Relations practitioner, I have represented a variety of groups before the state and national government for the past 30 years. I help those who don’t understand public policy or have time to engage in the legislative process. I served under eight different Secretaries’ of State and as a policy advisor to a Senate President.

When I’m not working, I enjoy walking around the woods of my family’s mountain cabin in Clayton, Georgia. I am entering my 35th year of marriage. My wife and I have one daughter, Kathryn Elizabeth. In addition, I have one loyal four-legged family member, Scout, named after Jean Louise in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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

Rivers: When I first joined the DOS staff as a team member, the Honorable Katherine Harris was Secretary of State. She sat down with me and explained the value of the arts in cultural relationships, interpersonal relationships and professional business relationships. People want friends with common interests. Art and it’s many disciplines is the universal language that everyone can appreciate, no matter what language they speak or where they live. That is why she felt (and rightfully so) a cultural mission should precede an economic trade mission, to serve as the ice breaker in finding common ground with our future trading partners. The Arts are an economic engine for our state. More people attend events of the arts than sporting events. 

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

Rivers: I appreciate art in its many disciplines. though I can’t play a single instrument or sing anywhere other than my shower, or paint anything other than a solid wall, I admire those who do, and how they think. It is a gift that I hope to be able to help share with others, so they can learn to appreciate them also.

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

Rivers: I’m an avid (some say rabid) collector of the The Highwaymen Art movement. I hope to be able to light the fire in the minds of other to appreciate our many different disciplines through visits to galleries and museums of all types around our great state. And then hopefully, they will buy something. I once heard, living artist need you to buy now, so they can continue to produce. Dead artists, though their works are great, no matter what the discipline, don’t need the money and are not contributing to our economy.

Culture in Florida: August 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 August:


FEATURED FESTIVAL

Studio 620 in St. Petersburg hosted its inaugural Zine Fest on Sunday, August 25th. A zine (short for magazine or fanzine) is a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images. Creatives from across the Tampa Bay area had zines and other works available for sale and sometimes even to trade, and there was a DIY Zine Zone to craft your own creations.


SPECIAL EVENTS

The 7th annual UPAG Artists Show was held on August 23rd at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa. From the Museum: “The United Photographic Artists Gallery is composed of fully engaged artists versed in the fine art world and dedicated to the excellence of the medium. UPAG supports the education, income, and creative progress of emerging artists.The 7th annual UPAG Artists Show was held on August 23rd at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa.”

The Dunedin Fine Arts Center hosted its “wearable ART 15” fashion show on August 24th, featuring presentations by Jenna Barnes, Mark Byrne, Melissa Dolce, the Garden Fairies + Electric Diva, Johnny Hunt, Kikimora Studios, Cindy Linville, and Frank Strunk III. Visit their website to see images from the event.

On Saturday, August 3rd, the Heartland Cultural Alliance held a Cellphone Photo Contest at the HCA Museum Gallery. Cellphone owners countywide submitted photographs from their phone, and community members were then asked to choose the winner from an exhibit of 26 qualifying photographs.


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

Opera Atelier in Miami closed its production of “The Not So Little Prince,” a whimsical one-act opera based on the story of The Little Prince which takes audience members on a journey through space and time, on August 18th. The production featured young performers from The Opera Atelier 2019 MOZ-Art Program, alongside their teachers. 

This month in Panama City, The Light Room opened an exhibit called “After the Hurricane: Photos by The Panama City News Herald,” showing coverage of Hurricane Michael recovery with images by Patti Blake and Joshua Boucher. Metal prints of the night sky show sparkling stars over areas impacted by Hurricane Michael, celebrating the courage of Bay County residents and their love for the community.


UPCOMING IN SEPTEMBER

ArtsLaunch2019 will happen on September 7th at the Adrienne Arsht Center. ArtsLaunch is the biggest free community event in Miami that celebrates the performing arts and other arts disciplines, and serves as the annual kick-off to Miami’s art season! The schedule for the celebration includes over 50 activities including free mini performances, interactive workshops, kids’ activities, farmers market, tours, and more.

The Sarasota Orchestra will kick off their “Discover Beethoven” series with performances of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony on September 28th & 29th. This series invites audience members to further explore the composer’s best-loved and most-celebrated works, and it will run through May of 2020.

Celebrate the end of summer with the Cummer Museum in Jacksonville at the last of their “Summer Fridays” series on September 6th. Visitors will enjoy free entertainment, including live music, art activities, lawn games, lounge areas, and more at the Museum’s s riverfront gardens and galleries, with extended hours to 9 PM. Museum-goers will also have their last chance see the French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850–1950 exhibit, which will close on September 8th.

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


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. 

Culture in Florida: July 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 July:


SPECIAL EVENTS

On Saturday, July 13th, the Matheson History Museum teamed up with the Gainesville Sun and Piedmont Publishing for a unique partnership called the “Gainesville Memories Community Project.” This project utilizes images from the Matheson’s collection to create a book focused on the city’s history prior to 1940, tentatively entitled “Gainesville Memories: The Early Years.” Community members were invited to bring in their historic photos dating back to 1940 or earlier.

The Pensacola Orchestra performed a free concert in the Happiness Is exhibition at the Artel Gallery on July 25th. The musicians, a string quartet with oboe, performed works by Mozart, Elgar, and others.

Florida Secretary of State, Laurel M. Lee, visited Tampa and St. Petersburg on July 18th and 19th. While in Tampa, she toured the Straz Center and met with a group of young actors from the cast of Annie with the Patel Conservatory. In St. Petersburg, she alongside Senator Darryl Rouson met with staff from the Morean Arts Center to discuss their community engagement programs, and ended the day by exploring the spectacular Chihuly Collection with her family. Photographs below are from her Twitter page.


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Ringling Museum in partnership with the Circus Arts Conservatory opened their Summer Circus Spectacular this month, which will run through August 3rd. This hour-long show, housed in the Historic Asolo Theatre, showcases breath-taking circus acts such as the Rolla Bolla, Hand Balancing, Aerial Lyra, Hula Hoop and Interactive Comedy. This summer special is perfect for the entire family!

The 31st Annual Arts in Gadsden exhibition opened at the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum in Quincy on July 25th, and will run through August 6th. This celebration of the region’s creative work presents 101 works by 82 artists. Exhibited works span the mediums of watercolor, egg tempera, acrylic, oil, photography, clay, encaustic, wood, metal, glass, papier maché, and serigraph.

The Venice Theatre opened their performance of Urinetown on July 26th, and it will run until August 11th. The production is described as “a side splitting sendup of greed, love, revolution (and musicals!), in a time when water is worth its weight in gold.”


APOLLO 11 ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

July 20th, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Moon Landing by spaceflight Apollo 11. Several arts organizations around the state took an opportunity to celebrate this event with special programming outside of their regular season!

The Gulf Coast Symphony celebrated the event with a concert of “moon music” and footage from the historic flight. The program included iconic fare such as Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” made famous by the film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” themes from the popular TV show “Star Trek,” and two segments from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.”

On July 31st and August 1st, the Melbourne Municipal Band will celebrate the moon landing anniversary with a picnic concert featuring various jazz hits.


UPCOMING IN AUGUST

On Thursday, August 15th, the Naples Players will present “Laugh for a Change!” in collaboration with the United Arts Council of Collier County. This fun-filled night of improvisational comedy will allow the Southwest Florida to unite for a great cause: to help provide access to the arts for at-risk children in their community. There will be two separate performances, at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM.

In collaboration with the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale, the South Florida Symphony will present their “Preserve the Coral Reef” concert on August 4th. The performance will feature their music educator, Donna Wissinger, and admission is free with the purchase of a museum ticket.


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 Feature: Dance Alive National Ballet Welcomes New Resident Choreographer

Provided by Dance Alive National Ballet. All photos by Johnston Photography.

About Dance Alive National Ballet

Founded in 1966 in the ‘Gator Nation’ of Gainesville, FL, Dance Alive National Ballet features an international roster of award winning dancers. Elegant and exciting, they are at the heart of the company’s undeniable success. DANB’s repertoire ranges from the quintessential classic Nutcracker to the cutting-edge movement of contemporary ballet. Throughout this choreographic tapestry are woven the ballets of Executive Artistic Director Kim Tuttle and Choreographer-in-Residence Judy Skinner whose distinctive artistic styles brand the company.  Entertaining and insightful, provocative and joyous, this creative aesthetic is at the heart of the Company. From dancing on a basketball court where lights were hung on hoops to being sponsored in state of the art theatres, to performing by invitation for HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, DANB has been on a mission to bring dance to the people.

New Resident Choreographer

Dance Alive National Ballet is proud to announce the appointment of Brian Carey Chung (choreographer, poet and nurse) as Resident Choreographer for the 2019-20 season. Mr. Chung brings to the table an extraordinary wealth of experience in both classical ballet and contemporary dance. He was founder and artistic director of Collective Body Dance Lab, performed with LINES Ballet for 7 years before joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Armitage Gone! Dance where he was principal dancer, rehearsal director and assistant choreographer. His first ballet for DANB, premiered in February 2019, ‘Touch Me Closer’, was a work of deep beauty, using highly trained classical dancers in a new and original way. This was so successful that Kim Tuttle, Executive Artistic Director of Dance Alive National Ballet asked him to create a full length ballet for the spring of 2020. His title of choice is ‘Athletes of God’, inspired by a quote from iconic modern dancer Martha Graham and set to music by Bach. His respect for dancers is boundless, and we look forward to moving Dance Alive National Ballet forward with grace and enthusiasm. 


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Culture in Florida: June 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 June:


FEATURED FESTIVALS

The Festival of New Musicals took place at The Winter Park Playhouse from June 20th – 23rd. The four day festival showcased six brand new musicals from around the world. One act of each musical was fully read and sung concert-style, without staging, by various casts of professional actors and musicians.

Produced by Community Arts & Culture, the 21st Annual Afro Roots Fest wrapped up in Key largo on Saturday, June 29th at the Murray Nelson Center. This event has historically celebrated the widespread influence that Africa continues to have on music, and furthers the mission of Community Arts and Culture, which is to foster an appreciation of the arts and culture through education. The festival was named as “Best Music Festival” in the “Best of Miami” 2019 issue.


SPECIAL EVENTS

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science celebrated World Ocean Day on June 8th with a day full of events and activities! The events included informational sessions on the impacts of plastic pollution, coral reef ecology and conservation, and scuba diving essentials. Museum goers also got to experience virtual swimming with sharks and dolphins!


OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS

The Ann Norton Sculpture Garden’s exhibit The Art of Sherlock Holmes closed on June 2nd after opening on May 10th. The Art of Sherlock Holmes, curated by author Phil Growick brought 14 pieces of art that were interpretations of different short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, all created by West Palm Beach artists. The artistic styles include abstract, contemporary, digital, realist, minimalist, symbolism, or an amalgam of various forms.

The Moon Bay exhibit opened this month at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. This unique 2,000-gallon habitat has two separate areas where the jellies can be touched by visitors. This experience–to gently interact with jellies–is only the fourth of its kind in the United States. 

The Museum of Discovery and Science opened their new exhibit, Hall of Heroes, this month. This exhibit brings guests into the world of superheroes, crime-­getters, gadgets and spies through an immersive experience. Guests can expect their journey through this exhibit to include movie prop-quality photo opportunities, including an authentic George Barris-built 1966 Batmobile, and challenging, highly engaging interactives, intriguing, informative displays with props, costumes and more. This exhibit will run through September 2nd, 2019.

The Monticello Opera House programmed a production of A Chorus Line at the end of the month as their special summer event. The premise of this show captures the spirit and tension of a Broadway chorus audition.


HONORS

Congratulations are in order for the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which was chosen this month to become a Smithsonian Affiliate. From the Sarasota Magazine:

“Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has been designated a Smithsonian Affiliate, joining a national network of museums, educational and cultural organizations in sharing the resources of the Smithsonian Institution. There are currently 213 affiliates in 45 states, Puerto Rico and Panama; Selby Gardens is the only garden in Florida that is part of the Smithsonian Affiliate network.”


UPCOMING IN JULY

Arts4All Florida will present their new exhibition, “Transformations: Building a World of Access and Inclusion” on July 26th, which run through September 15th, 2019. “Transformations” is a unique exhibit celebrating personal and societal transformations. The artwork in this exhibition will celebrate the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its influence on creating a world in which the arts are universally accessible. 

The Downtown Cultural Series in Gainesville will continue their free concerts on Friday nights this month for the Gainesville150 anniversary celebrations. This series is the region’s longest-running and largest free outdoor concert series features local and regional musical talent at the newly renovated Bo Diddley Plaza. The Free Fridays Concert Series will continue every week through the month of October.

The Bay Arts Alliance is presenting the Art of Florida Cartoonists Exhibition from June 8th to July 20th at the Panama City Center for the ARTS. This exhibit will showcase a wide variety of visual treasures created by cartoonists, illustrators, and storyboard artists who have lived or worked in the Sunshine State.


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. 

Postcards from NEA Secretary Jane Chu: Sketches of Florida

In addition to being an accomplished musician, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu is a skilled visual artist as well. As she travels the country on behalf of the NEA, Chairman Chu makes sketches of various locations, and graciously shares them with each State Arts Agency. She created some lovely artwork while in Florida and we are thrilled that she has allowed us to share them with you!

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Betsy Restaurant – Florida

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Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery

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New World Symphony in Miami Beach

Chairman Chu’s sketches should not be used for fundraising purposes or as an endorsement.

Team Member Tuesday: Elsie Rogers

Gosh, we missed Team Member Tuesday yesterday!  Let’s make up for it now with a little bit about Elsie Rogers:

How long have you been with the Division? Since October 2012

EJR CroppedSo what exactly do you DO? I am the Program Manager for Cultural Facilities and Cultural Endowments

What’s your favorite part of your job? Working with and helping grantees and working with my co-workers.  I also love seeing the Cultural Facility projects when they are completed. Being involved with people who love the arts.

Are you an artist yourself? Yes, I am a poet and my MA is in Creative Writing.

What do you like to do for fun? Play tennis, have dinner with family and friends, active vacations… Continue reading