By Julie Levin
There's a party going on for some of South Florida most beloved cultural organizations. Several of the groups that promote beautiful music, art and dance in our community are celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2013. The anniversaries provide proof of South Florida's passion for the arts, as well as the commitment of these local organizations to continue to provide them, even in the face of tight budgets. So where's the party? Here's a look at the organizations that have earned a special candle on the cake this year.
The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood
It's hard to remember a time when the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood wasn't a fixture on South Florida's cultural scene. In August, the center will mark its 35th anniversary of providing gallery exhibitions, live stage performances and educational programs for children, teens, adults and educators. An array of programs and events allow artists of all ages to immerse themselves in the visual and musical arts. The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood fosters a creative environment where new and challenging work can flourish.
Bonnet House Museum & Gardens
The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a museum this year. The whimsically designed house was built in 1920 and was home to artists Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett. Accredited by the American Association of Museums and listed on the national Register of Historic Places, this 35-acre historic estate on Fort Lauderdale Beach is an extraordinary blend of art, history and nature.
"2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the incredible gift of Bonnet House by Evelyn Fortune Bartlett. Without her perseverance, our 35-acre historic estate with the art of Frederic and Evelyn Bartlett, beautiful and whimsical architecture and lush tropical grounds would no doubt have been developed and forever lost," said CEO Karen Beard.
For 25 years, Fort-Lauderdale based ArtServe has played a key role in the South Florida cultural scene. One of six original arts incubators in the U.S, ArtServe has developed events, programs and services that help artists turn art into business. ArtServe hosts 14 exhibits each year, administers Broward County’s Cooperative Marketing Program, presents a comprehensive Technical Assistance Program with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Broward County and manages ArtsCalendar.com. Other key initiatives include its innovative Eco Art Education program and Inside Out/Art as Healing Therapy. Red Eye 2013, ArtServe’s annual multi-media underground art phenomenon, runs through July 27 with a live event on July 20.
Florida Youth Orchestra
For a quarter of a century, the Florida Youth Orchestra has been Broward's only broad-based student classical music resource. The organization provides a program of classical music education for youngsters ages 5-18. Currently, there are 380 students who participate in seven orchestra divisions working with the region's most respected professional musicians. The orchestras perform dozens of community performances each year, in addition to community outreach.
"We're proud to be educating and nurturing thousands of children each year, knowing that they gain tremendously as musicians. But we're even more gratified to be offering them life-altering behavioral and attitude skills, such as commitment, self-esteem, cooperation and respect for others. In addition, our concerts are vital to the creation of a more vibrant cultural community in Broward County," said Myra Weaver, president and founder of the Florida Youth Orchestra
More than 900 people came out to celebrate the 25th anniversary recently at Signature Grand in Davie. Many alumni were present some of whom started with the orchestra at the age of 9 and are now in their mid-30s.
Symphony of the Americas
For 25 years, the Symphony of the Americas has been thrilling audiences with world-class performances of classical masterworks. Under Maestro James Brooks-Bruzzese’s leadership, the Symphony has taken an inventive approach to combining art forms on stage to engage and develop new audiences. The Symphony collaborates with local non-profit organizations and municipalities to present outreach concerts and educational programs, including in-school ensemble presentations, full orchestral concerts and hands-on musical instrument exploration. The Symphony serves as a cultural bridge to Latin America and Europe with its renowned Summerfest program, a six-week cultural exchange with major European chamber orchestras. This year’s Summerfest features I Musici Estensi in residence in July for 15 South Florida concerts at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts
"It is an honor to serve our community for a quarter of a century and continue to grow in quality and outreach. Our appreciation goes to the people of Broward County for their continuing support and enjoyment of our musical performances," said Executive Director Renee LaBonte. “Maestro’s talent as a passionate conductor and artistic innovator showcase the talents of the Symphony to South Florida and to audiences around the world, and we are proud to have our community as the platform for our presentations.”
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida
The Arts Ballet Theater of Florida recently closed out its milestone 15th season. Under the direction of ballet master and choreographer Vladimir Issaev, the company offers a unique repertoire that includes works by famed ballet masters and contemporary guest choreographers. Founded in 1997, the Arts Ballet Theater also offers educational outreach programs that bring an awareness of ballet to thousands of students.
Association of Performing Arts of India
Since 1998, the Association of Performing Arts of India has delivered a new understanding of Indian music, dance, history and tradition to South Florida. The non-profit organization is celebrating 15 years of preserving ancient Indian classical music and dance, which is believed to be the oldest written music in the world. The group provides classes, demonstrations, lectures and concerts. It also offers South Florida's East Indian Diaspora a sense of pride in their heritage, said Bharti Chokshi, the founder/executive director of the group.
"As I look back, I feel proud that with the blessings from our parents, guru, and with the support from the APAI board members, executive staff, volunteers, donors and the audience, we have reached this milestone. I also thank the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and the Broward Cultural Council for providing tremendous support for the last 15 years through grants, educational workshops, co-op marketing and guidance," Chokshi said.
Master Chorale of South Florida
It was a musical homecoming of sorts for the Master Chorale of South Florida when it celebrated its 10th anniversary recently. The organization reunited all of its former conductors Jo-Michael Scheibe, Josh Habermann, Karen Kennedy and Alec Schumacker – in April to celebrate with a series of anniversary concerts.
The concerts celebrated a decade of the finest classical singers in the tri-county area. When the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus ceased to exist in 2003, the chorus made a decision to incorporate as the Master Chorale of South Florida to ensure that world-class performances of major works written for chorus and orchestra would remain part of South Florida’s cultural fabric.
"As Stephen Sondheim wrote in his show Follies, 'Good times and bum times, I’ve seen them all, and my dear, I’m still here.' The past few years have been very challenging for many non-profit organizations in South Florida, but especially for the arts. The members of the Master Chorale of South Florida are very proud to be celebrating their 10th anniversary and look forward to continuing to perform with world's most beautiful music," said Mark Glickman, president of the Master Chorale.
Among the Master Chorale’s many highlights has been the opportunity to sing with Andrea Bocelli at the BB&T Center for the fourth consecutive year a performance they will repeat in February 2014.