Here we stand, one weary foot in the end of 2008 and the other planted in hope for 2009. It is time to move on and build the future by any means possible during this economic slump. That's the general feeling among a sampling of artists and organizations in the arts community that shared their responses to these questions:
1) What's your name, title and arts organization that you're affiliated with?
2) What happened in 2008 in the Orlando arts scene that you don't want people to forget?
3) What are your or your company's resolutions for 2009 in order to deal with the economic challenges?
Visual artist, Orlando
Well, if this sucky year had to be an extra day longer, at least Brian Feldman jumped off a ladder 366 times on Leap Year Day. As a painter I hate to say it, but there's nothing in the visual arts world I can remember as being exceptional in the past 12 months. Performance was where it was at. The Fringe festival was bigger and better than ever, I joined in a parade honoring Jessica Earley's 10,000th day alive, a great, new modern dance company, Yow Dance
(www.yowdance.org), had its premiere, and I had an AWESOME Halloween costume.
I don't make a lot of resolutions. But if I did, I would resolve to get more local artists involved in making art shows about ideas, not just the usual gimmicks and money-making door charges and cocktail parties.
Visual artist, Oviedo
I recall earlier this year wandering around downtown on a Third Thursday art event and seeing many new, young visual artists ... very uplifting. So a big rave to all the visual artists out there making art and making the effort to exhibit. Thanks to the venues that are showing art. I'm generally positive about 2009 for the visual arts. And wow, what an election! Obama, Kosmas, Grayson ... Nov. 4 makes me smile, still.
Jennifer Coolidge, executive director
Museum of Florida Art, DeLand
We must never forget that last year some of Florida's legislative leaders entertained the idea of eliminating the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. Had that occurred, the state of Florida would have become the only U.S. territory other than Guam without a Department of Cultural Affairs. Formally ranked second in the nation for cultural support, the state ranks in the lower percentile for cultural support despite the research related to the arts role in attracting and retaining tourists and contributing to economic development. We work to keep the arts alive in our state as well as in Central Florida.
In 2009, we plan to partner with other organizations to promote Florida art and artists and expand audience, as well as use this time to plan for the future to be ready when the economy improves. As a member of the Florida Cultural Alliance (www.flca.net) and Florida Alliance for Arts Education (www.faae.org), we urge others to join and keep appraised and be a voice for the arts and for a complete education in 2009!
Independent curator/visual artist
I don't want people to forget that the arts scene in Orlando is progressing. New venues are opening, risks are being taken, and a lot of efforts were made by artists, curators and venues to bring more opportunity to our arts scene. For 2009: Maintain integrity, worry less about money.
Ron Legler, president/CEO
Florida Theatrical Association, Orlando
(presenter of Broadway Across America)
If I have to pick one thing, the unveiling of the design for the new downtown performing arts center resonates with me — it's Orlando's future, our future and we couldn't be more excited.
The Florida Theatrical Association will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009 and we can't wait! More than ever we're going to be focused on bringing quality entertainment to Orlando … theater that excites, intrigues, educates and maybe even provokes them a little bit.
Corinne Gammichia, proprietor
Alchemy Hair Salon, Orlando
Wheat Wurtzburger showed his photography attached to sticks that were stuck in the sand in a basement (yes, a basement in Orlando). It was so beautiful to see art presented in a way that moves people. Also the show at the empty building on the corner of Virginia and Mills called Bay 2. Cat Quast and Drew White featured 20 different artists from the area in a warehouse setting in basically a construction site. The art was beautiful. There was a full bar and the food never ran out. There was performance art, installations, sculptures, graffiti art, fine art, film and live music — a night not to forget.
I don't think that the economic times have kept people from spending, they just spend less. And if you are in an industry that is doing well and you are making money, then spend it. Take this year to buy new clothes from local boutiques, do the things to your house you were saving for. Don't try to save/hoard your money while the community needs it so bad.
Andrew White, visual artist/curator
There were so many great things that happened in '08! Many times I had multiple venues to visit in one night. I especially liked Doug Rhodehamel's installations and Brian Feldman's performances throughout 2008. They opened a lot of eyes to the Orlando art scene and its ability to express. I feel, like many other industries, that 2007 was a high point and the steady decline during 2008 is something to learn from. Importance of finance should shift to importance of creation and expression. In 2009, Lot1433 is going to concentrate more on the purity and truth of art with less emphasis on the bottom line.
Julio Lima, graphic designer
Say It Loud! and Orange Studio
The Orange Studio `in the back of Say It Loud! on Mills Avenue` opened as another option for affordable gallery events. Lots of local art events in 2008, but most still lacking UMPH! We need to shake this mofo town upside down and get people excited about ART. New talent. New venues. More collaboration. Art walks (but not the arts and crafts types). We need more of a fearless attitude. The art scene in Orlando is still very vanilla. We need artists to take more risks to get us on the radar.
For 2009: Work harder. Work smarter. We will need to challenge ourselves more creatively.
Margo Stedman, program coordinator
Bach Festival Society of Winter Park
The Bach Festival Society brought Kennedy Center honoree Leon Fleisher to Central Florida. Mr. Fleisher is not only an incredible musician, but was an amazingly kind man. Once here, he decided to conduct the orchestra himself, which also gave Central Florida musicians in the Bach Festival Orchestra the chance to interact with a great maestro. The concert that was performed was unforgettable.
My resolution: Eat more rice and beans! The Bach Festival Society as a whole is planning everything for the future with caution. We are still committed to bringing Central Florida great choral and classical music. The entire artistic industry is working together to compromise and produce great art. Next year is our 75th anniversary, and our choir and orchestra will be performing a season of great classic works.
Director of development
Orlando Shakespeare Theater (in
Partnership With UCF)
At Orlando Shakes, I was extremely proud of the production of Macbeth we did in the spring and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie that we did this fall. Of course, who could forget Brian Feldman "leaping" in front of City Hall for 24 hours last Feb. 29th?! I am happy that the Orlando arts scene in general is thriving in many ways. I don't want people to forget that art is an important part of our lives and that the risk/cost of attending an art event is vastly outweighed by the personal gain.
We are committed to being a fiscally responsible organization. We are doing many things to cut back and economize, from trying to be more green by reducing paper use and electricity consumption at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, to exploring collaborative partnerships with other organizations. All of which is done with the intent of not allowing our audiences to experience any difference in the quality and professionalism of our productions.
Matthew Curtis, programming director
Enzian Theater and Florida Film Festival
The 2008 Florida Film Festival was the most exciting one in years, with some of the most diverse and kick-ass programming we've ever been able to line up. From the William Castle tribute — including the Spine Tingler! doc, an incredibly rare 35 mm screening of Joan Crawford in Straight-Jacket and the most beautiful 35 mm print of Rosemary's Baby that you'll ever have a chance to see — to exhilarating Spanish science-fiction (Timecrimes) to a French romantic thriller that drew comparisons to Hitchcock (Tell No One) to the amazing performance of Kristin Stewart in the touching The Cake Eaters (with director Mary Stuart Masterson in attendance!), 2008 truly raised the bar. And two of our world premieres — Tom Gustafson's gay Midsummer Night's Dream musical comedy, Were the World Mine, and Jeremy Zerechak's uncensored and unflinching war doc, Land of Confusion, both won major awards at FFF and have gone on to notable success at other fests and in the marketplace. Our resolution: "Keepin' it reel authentic and affordable!"
Margot H. Knight, president and CEO
United Arts of Central Florida
In 2008 a young generation of leaders stepped up to the arts plate — Autumn Ames at the Cultural Alliance, Alaunna McMillan at Winter Garden Theatre, Emma Kruch and her pink arts happenings, Anna McCambridge at Visual Fringe, John Theisen and Film Slam. Terrific to see the new, edgy energy and remarkable business aplomb.
United Arts will continue beating the drum, as pedestrian as it is, for fiscal prudence, transparency, collaboration and good governance for cultural organizations. Clear-eyed pragmatists with crystal clear missions and enthusiastic audiences will make it through the next few years. Delusional optimism and fake-it-till-you-make-it strategies just won't cut it. The world needs art. We have to keep that faith in good times and bad.
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