State reps look into the future of the arts in Central Florida, Otronicon returns, and what's on local stages 

We've long known that arts are a key element of Florida's economic engine, generating $4.7 billion in activity and over 130,000 jobs in 2017 alone (according to the Department of State), but those statistics didn't stop Republican legislators from slashing the state's funding for cultural grants by 90 percent last year. Two local lawmakers are looking to reverse that trend: State Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna V. Eskamani will host other elected officials and arts leaders at the Orlando Rep at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, for a discussion on the future of arts and culture in Central Florida. "Art is a powerful platform that instills values and translates experiences across space and time," says Eskamani. "We need the arts, and the arts need us."

Otronicon, the Orlando Science Center's annual expo of electronic entertainment and interactive technology, returns to Loch Haven Park for its 14th annual installment Jan. 18-21. This year's event features Synthestruct's Viscerality, a unique audiovisual experience incorporating rare Mi.Mu Gloves (which control MIDI music through gestures) and immersive full-dome projections. Another exhibit from Orlando-based startup Readality uses artificial intelligence to turn books into 3D adventures. Keynote speaker Kate Edwards, former executive director of the International Game Developers Association, will talk about game creation on Saturday, with the separately ticketed adult-only "Science Night Live" held later that evening. Visit osc.org/otronicon for details.

NOW PLAYING:
Boom, through Jan. 20 at Theater on the Edge ... A Doll's House Part 2, through Feb. 3 at Orlando Shakes.

UPCOMING:
A Doll's House, Jan. 11-27 at CFCArts ... Better Together: Lindsay Nantz & Kate Zaloumes, Jan. 16-17 at Winter Park Playhouse ... 6 Guitars, Jan. 17-19 at Theater West End ... PRT Launch, Jan. 18-27 at Orlando Shakes ... The Legend of Georgia McBride, Jan. 18-Feb. 3 at Garden Theatre ... Hand to God, Jan. 18-Feb. 10 at Mad Cow ... Hamilton, Jan. 22-Feb. 10 at Dr. Phillips ... Ain't Misbehavin: The Fats Waller Musical Show, Jan. 24-Feb. 23 at Winter Park Playhouse ... Our Country's Good, Jan. 24-Feb. 3 at UCF ... Josephine, a Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play, Jan. 25-27 at Theater West End ... Flamenco Del Sol presents Carmen, Feb. 26-27 at Dr. Phillips ... Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, Feb. 1-24 at Bay Street Players ... Ella Enchanted: The Musical, Jan. 28-24 at Orlando Rep ... A Tale of Two Cities, Feb. 1-9 at CFCArts ... Melissa Vasquez in Screaming Koalas the Musical, Feb 2. at Theater West End.

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