I would actually revise this event’s tagline to “Where Locals Meet the Arts.” You see, I am not a newcomer, but rather a 3rd generation Central Floridian, but even I was delighted by the information I received when I attended United Arts’ last “In Your Backyard.”
Every quarter, United Arts gathers local cultural venues to a morning get-together. Here you get to mingle with some leaders in the arts world and hear what’s new and exciting. Then, you watch a short presentation which gives in-depth information about each participating venue. When I attended the last “In Your Backyard” held at the Winter Park Playhouse, here’s who I got to know better:
Heather Alexander, Executive Director of the Playhouse, gave a brief overview of their lovely theater. It’s a nice size theater, a converted warehouse space. The theater focuses on musical theater (only one in Central Florida that only does musical theater) and they like to feature rarely seen or Off Broadway shows. They also do a series called “Playhouse in the Park” which are free performances on the stage in downtown Winter Park in Central Park. By the way, their upcoming “Pump Boys and Dinettes” was voted the #1 “Top 5” performing arts event this month!
We next heard from Henry Maldonado, the President of Enzian, as he explained that the Enzian is more than just a movie theater – they are looking to create an independent movie experience! They have Film Slam once a month after the Sunday brunch, which focuses on local up-and-coming movie makers. They want to create debate and discussion and to have viewers realize, “Arguing over movies is the most fun thing you can do it and Enzian is the place to do it!” He also explained that the theater’s outdoor Eden Bar is a destination, where people who love movies are hanging out. They also do monthly outdoor movies called “Popcorn Flicks” in Winter Park’s Central Park. They also have movie festivals throughout the year such as the upcoming Jewish Film Fest in November or the nationally prestigious Florida Film Festival in the spring. (IMDB.com recently listed this as one of the best in the world!)
We next heard from Peter Schreyer, the Executive Director of the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, which is a special project by Crealde and the culmination of 8 years of research by residents, historians, etc.. There you can see 125 museum quality pieces of the Heritage Collection, and it is located at Hannibal Heritage Center, on the corner of Pennsylvania and New England in Winter Park. Schreyer described it as “125 windows into a historic community: photographs and oral histories of west Winter Park.” I appreciate the facts that all the staff and docents are lifelong residents of the area. Last year he says they received 7,500 visitors and 35% were from out of town. In addition to this special project for west Winter Park, Crealde has been the leader in teaching arts in central Florida for 14 years now. They have a beautiful facility off Aloma Ave. (their main campus) which contains a state of the art digital photography classroom with a grant. The Top 5 enjoys going to Crealde for their Annual Cup-A-Thon!
Next up was Scott Evans, the Director of the Orange County Arts Education Center. He spoke passionately about the importance of maintaining arts education in Florida’s public schools. He then listed some of the programs he oversees:
- Magic journey to the arts program (highest percentage of paid lunch schools, in partnership with Orlando magic)
- Children, arts and cultural alliaNce of a central FL … Takes children with poor home lives to museums, meet artists, etc.
- Provide teachers with tools to teach art across the curriculum
- Arts summer art guide…. Free and available from the public library or online
Last we heard from Autumn Ames, the Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida. She listed several of the highlights of the Alliance:
- Red Chair Project, a “One Stop Shop for Arts”
- Marketing branch/community engagement of United Arts
- Serve 7 counties in Central Florida region
- Promote arts to residents and tourists
- Classes and workshops listed here
- Free for arts organizations to post…
- Orlando Arts Getaways – hotel, arts, restaurants, etc.
- Red Chair Affair in August
- Orlando Arts Sampler (ticket to 7 different arts groups for around $100)
By the way, the Top 5 absolutely loved the Red Chair Affair this year… it was magical!
So, if you have a chance, be sure to attend this quarter’s “In Your Backyard” to see what great arts and cultural things are happening right here in Central Florida. You might even win 2 free tickets to an upcoming event! Here’s the information: Wednesday, October 13 at the Maitland Art Center from 8:00 – 9:30 am.