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. 


Interested in seeing your organization featured on Culture Builds Florida? Please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/3sMwuJWA3bM1orPl2

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

Welcome back!

Welcome back to our blog, which has been too quiet for too long!

We’re starting a new ongoing feature: welcome to Team Member Tuesday! We’ll be spotlighting a Division team member every week. This week, we’ll kick off with one of our newer program managers, Michelle Smith Grindberg.michelle-bentley

Position: Arts Consultant

How long have you been with the Division?
I began my position in April 2015.

 So what exactly do you DO?
I manage grants for Arts in Education and Underserved Cultural Community Development, as well as serve as the Art Education Specialist. In this capacity, I want to engage in collaborative conversations with other state and national arts education managers and educators, regarding best standards and advocacy avenues for arts integration in our schools and creative, lifelong learning methods. Continue reading

An Inside Look at the 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Finals

by Alison Schaeffler-Murphy

Each year State Champions from throughout the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico are awarded the opportunity to compete in the Poetry Out Loud National Semi-Finals and Finals in Washington, DC.  This exciting opportunity includes an all-expense paid trip to Washington for each state finalists and a chaperone. I attended the Finals at the end of April as Florida’s State Coordinator to watch our champion, Emily Rodriguez, compete and to learn more about the Poetry Out Loud program.  While there I enjoyed touching base with other program directors from each state, and it was a pleasure to meet the many devoted folks from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Poetry Foundation who make Poetry Out Loud a huge success.

This year’s 53 Poetry Out Loud State Champions in Washington, DC. Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

This year’s 53 Poetry Out Loud State Champions in Washington, DC. Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Emily Rodriguez, a 12th grade student at Academy of the Holy Names in Hillsborough County, traveled to Washington with her mom to compete in the National competition. During the first two rounds of Region 2’s semi-finals, Emily recited “The Empty Dance Shoes”by Cornelius Eady and “Memory as a Hearing Aid” by Tony Hoagland.  Not surprisingly, Emily’s excellent recitation skills led to the judges’ selecting her as one of the top 10 students to move onto the third round. During this final round, Emily recited “Holy Sonnets: Batter my heart, three-person’d God” by John Donne. All of us at the Division of Cultural Affairs are very proud of Emily’s performance and recognize how prestigious it is for her to have been selected to compete in the final round of the Semi-Finals.

Emily Rodriguez reciting Cornelius Eady’s “The Empty Dance Shoes.” Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Emily Rodriguez reciting Cornelius Eady’s “The Empty Dance Shoes.” Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Given the vast amount of talent that showed up in Washington for the 2014 National Finals, the judges understandably had a very difficult time making their final decisions.  In the end, three students from each of the three regional Semi-Finals were selected to compete in the Finals. The following evening these nine student each recited poems during the first two rounds. Ultimately, the top three students were selected to perform a third poem to determine their standings as the 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Finalists. This year, these finalists included Natasha Simone Vargas (New Jersey), Lake Wilburn (Ohio), and Anita Norman (Tennessee) who were surely thrilled!

Once Natasha, Lake, and Anita recited their third poem, the judges determined that Anita Norman would be this year’s National Champion.  In addition to all of the national recognition that accompanies this honor, Anita Norman was presented with a prize of $20,000!  Lake Wilburn came in 2nd place with a $10,000 prize and Natasha Vargas received $5,000. It was wonderful to see such talent acknowledged. The amount of positive energy flowing among all of the students, regardless of their final standings, was evidence of this. The experience was truly gratifying for all involved.

National Champion Anita Norman interviewed by Neda Ulaby from National Public Radio. Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

National Champion Anita Norman interviewed by Neda Ulaby from National Public Radio. Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Clearly, the fifty-three Poetry Out Loud National Finalists had the time of their life! Besides making connections with like-minded teens from across the United States, their Washington experience included opportunities to meet significant published authors and public figures from stage, screen, radio, and government. Plus, the folks at the Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts made certain that the students’ time in Washington was filled with exciting events like meet and greet receptions, an opening banquet with last year’s National Champion Langston Ward, a Congressional breakfast, time on Capitol Hill, and a great National Finals after party.  Having seen how fulfilling the experience was and how wholly the students embraced their love of poetry, I have higher praise for Poetry Out Loud than ever before.

Participation in a Poetry Out Loud program begins at the classroom level. It’s easy to incorporate the program into the curriculum because Poetry Out Loud correlates with English Language Arts Standards set by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Not only does the program seek to encourage our nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through performance and recitation, it is an inclusive program.  It creates an entry point for students to appreciate poetry, it reaches out to students who might not have otherwise taken to poetry or the stage, and it impacts the lives of students both academically and socially. I strongly encourage high school teachers to incorporate the program into their language arts curriculum. Schools interested in finding out more can visit the official Poetry Out Loud website, visit the Florida Division of Cultural Affair’s POL webpage, or contact me for more information. It might just be a student from your community who goes to Washington next year!

Poetry, like camaraderie, is stirring and fun.Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Poetry, like camaraderie, is stirring and fun. Photo by James Kegley, used with permission of the National Endowment for the Arts.