Culture 2 Go

Newly launched Orlando Design District keeps Orlando ODD; GOAT christens new permanent space; "Blood Sisters" goes to the DNC

Another attempt is being made to name the area that stretches between Colonial Drive and Princeton Street, from Orange Avenue over to Mills – and this one might stick, because, unlike previous tags, the Orlando Design District hopes only to unite a gathering of like-minded businesses, not define the whole diverse neighborhood. (See "Today the ViMi, tomorrow the world," Nov. 6, 2003, and "Cracks in the pavement," Aug. 23, 2007, for our reporting on earlier efforts.)

The ODD website ( lists a roll call of designers, print shops, vintage stores and ad/branding/marketing agencies in the area. It aims to function as an online directory of creative professionals, serving both as a resource for potential clients and a magnet for similar new firms.

"If you're going to open a [design] business … this is the place to do it," says Ben Collins, one of the owners of Laughing Samurai, the branding agency that put together and maintains the site. It's a labor of love for a neighborhood that the agency loves, not a chamber of commerce-type paid listing; no money is changing hands. "We're designing it, we're hosting it, we just want people to get behind this community."

While not an "official" designation, like the Main Street districts it partially encompasses (Mills 50 and Ivanhoe Village), the Orlando Design District shares goals with those organizations. "We want to bring more business to the businesses in this area," Collins says simply.

The Greater Orlando Actors Theatre breaks in a new home Thursday night with ROCK Orlando, a Musical Revue. This "soft opening" does double duty: It's a first look at the group's new space – at 2431 Aloma Ave. in Winter Park, near the Crealdé School of Art – and a sampler platter of songs from GOAT's 2012-2013 season. After stops at the Cameo Theatre on Colonial Drive and Cherry Street in Winter Park, let's hope the third time's no harm; this troupe deserves a solid place to put down roots. More info at

The cast of 2012 Fringe Fest favorite Blood Sisters, the Musical has been tapped to perform at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September, thanks to the power of social media: DNC event organizers peeped the Blood Sisters trailer on Facebook and asked Toy Matthews, Pascha Weaver, Malikah Harris and Jacquelyn Graham to sing at a pair of DNC parties. The vocalists are now raising funds for their trip on their Facebook page (

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