It was 25 years ago… yes, 25 years ago that United Arts funded a study by ArtStrategy of Longwood that evaluated the organization’s role and the financial stability of existing arts organizations in Central Florida back then.

Along with the need for improved fundraising and building the capacity of United Arts, the study delivered a strong message about the need to develop audiences for the arts in our community.

In 1998, according to the study, arts audiences were only at 40 percent capacity and our arts organizations were struggling to increase public interest in their programs. Today, they sell out their performances and must often set limits for programs, classes, camps and exhibits. Fundraising events are sold out, too.

The study also estimated that earned income for arts organizations (ticket sales, class registrations and entrance fees), even when combined with collective giving, totaled just $11 million in 1998. But what a difference a quarter century of effort can make!

In 2022, earned income alone had risen to $22 million. That’s critical to the financial stability of our cultural organizations, because it has been proven that audience members become donors. What’s more, arts organizations last year received an additional $37 million from grants and contributions — for a grand total of $59 million.

At the same time, the Orlando MSA grew from about 550,000 to more than 2 million, meaning that our pool of potential audience members (and donors) has nearly quadrupled since that first study was completed. Another promising sign: Per capital spending on the arts has nearly tripled between then and now.

For the last 25 years, six times a year, Orlando Arts magazine — now Artistry — has served as a very important audience development tool for arts and cultural organizations. It’s a key component of our cultural tourism marketing strategy to give readers from around the world an inside view of the depth and breadth of “artistry” throughout our region.

United Arts provides this resource to all arts and cultural organizations at no cost as a part of our mission.

The print magazine is distributed to more than 15,000 households, local companies and statewide through retail outlets. Visitors can pick up a copy at Orlando Sanford International Airport. In addition, an electronic version is available on our website and in such area hotels as The Wave and Rosen Properties.

This premier publication is one of kind in Florida and has been led by Cindy Bowman LaFronz for 25 years. As our editor-in-chief, Cindy has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to include all forms of art and artists, celebrate excellence, champion arts organizations (established and emerging) and create a publication that you cannot wait to get in the mail or on your desk.

She works to not only feature organizations that are planning and presenting amazing programs to entertain, educate, heal and improve the quality of life in our community, but also to feature our community’s professional artists, who use their artistry to make a living.

Thank you, Cindy, for your dedication to promoting the arts in an equitable way and your commitment to excellence.

There’s no doubt the quality of the arts locally has improved over the past 25 years. The variety of offerings have expanded tremendously, which has resulted in growing audiences and a growing love of the arts.

United Arts is proud to play a major role in helping to make that happen by investing our resources in this beautiful magazine, which strengthens and celebrates the entire cultural community.


– Jennifer Evins

President & CEO of United Arts of Central Florida


Find this column in Artistry magazine. Read the latest issue here.

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