Cultural Quarterly
Winter 2009
Volume XXII, Number 1
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Joining Forces
to Help Artists Thrive

By Helene Foster

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Elizabeth Young, executive director for the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, eagerly awaited this winter’s meeting of the South Florida Cultural Consortium (SFCC), when the members had a chance to gather and share ideas.

Having joined the Council of the Arts in March 2008, she finally had a chance to meet face to face with representatives of the other arts councils in the area.

Jamaica by Louis Davis
by past SFCC winner Louis Davis

“I was so eager to meet others from the other councils,” says Young. “This cooperation opens doors to the arts in the Florida Keys as we can cooperate with the larger counties in marketing, education and providing fellowships.”

Formed in 1984, the South Florida Cultural Consortium is a coalition composed of the cultural arts councils of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. With the goal of advancing the arts in South Florida by sharing resources, the group collectively awards fellowships and grants, exhibitions and publishes Voices & Venues, a helpful website for the arts throughout South Florida. Since its inception, the SFCC has strategically aligned the five counties with cost savings, scholarships for South Florida arts administrators, regional strategic professional development workshops such as the National Arts Marketing Projects (NAMP), a bi-monthly electronic newsletter and advocacy through membership in the Florida Cultural Alliance.

Young says that Voices & Venues has been a great way for the artists of the Keys to get noticed. “We have our listings of performances, events and exhibitions and we really enjoy and benefit from that exposure,” she says.

According to Mary A. Becht, director of the Broward County Cultural Division, “The new federal administration has published new  arts policies that include cultural diplomacy, investing in arts education and increased funding for the National Endowments for the Arts, the nation’s leading arts agency.  Now more than ever the South Florida Cultural Consortium will continue to thrive and grow as a regional network for the arts in South Florida working in tandem to support the arts policies of the new federal arts policies.”

“The South Florida Cultural Consortium has  strengthened South Florida’s role in regionalism as the longest running regional organization of its kind in the five-county area for the past 24 years,” Becht adds.

detail pleasure pearl
Pleasure Pearl (detail)
by past SFCC winner Ray Azcuy

Michael Spring is the chairperson for the SFCC. He also serves as director of the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs. “Our most prominent program,” he explains, “is the South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship Program. We create an exhibition and catalogue of all the artists that participate. Our annual arts exhibition – this year’s will be held at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton – provides artists and the community the opportunity to share great work from throughout Florida.”

The SFCC Visual and Media Arts Fellowship Program is open to all South Florida professional artists residing in the five participating counties. Applicants must reside and work in the county in which they apply for a minimum of one year and must have valid proof of residency.

Spring sees the SFCC as an avenue “to move forward to our common goal of promoting the arts.” Last year’s exhibition featured the 13 fellowship recipients and their work at the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Nova Southeastern University and it was very well attended. “It’s great for an artist from another community to display his or her work in another city,” he adds. Recipients of the fellowships were awarded $7,500 or $15,000 each. The $15,000 fellowships are one of the largest awards provided by local arts agencies in the United States.

The South Florida Cultural Consortium additionally receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, the Boards of County Commissioners of Broward, Miami-Dade, Martin and Monroe counties, and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.


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