ORLANDO – December 20, 2023 – On December 13, 2023, the Board of Directors of United Arts of Central Florida (United Arts) approved the recommendation to award $2,329,700 in Operating Support grants to 44 Central Florida nonprofit cultural institutions.

“As Central Florida’s local arts agency, United Arts raises and distributes funds for arts, science and history organizations in our region. These grants strengthen these organizations at the core of their mission and provide sustainability to help them thrive,” said Jennifer Evins, president and CEO of United Arts.  “Our work makes art more accessible to all, so that everyone, from our neighbors to our future generations, can live in a more inspiring and enriching community.”

It is critical to the mission and vision of United Arts to invest these essential unrestricted operating dollars to support cultural organizations in Central Florida and ensure that residents and visitors have access to intriguing and diverse cultural programming. This comprehensive grant program recognizes the value of arts and culture in the community and the nonprofit organizations that provide this programming for the public year-round. Qualified grantees apply annually in July for these critical operating dollars. Applicants must provide annual programming and established 501(c)(3) for three years or more.

“Several years ago, the Winter Park History Museum board decided that the amount of time and research needed to complete the United Arts grant process wasn’t cost-effective for our small organization,” said Christy Grieger, executive director of the Winter Park History Museum. “Last year we met with Elyse Jardine, outreach program officer at United arts, and were encouraged to apply with a new, more welcoming grant format. We are grateful to United Arts for their time, attention, and encouragement, which resulted in an approved grant and a new community partnership which will make a positive impact on our 2024 operating budget.”

The value of these grants is clear. In 2023 the United Arts Operating Support grants helped 42 arts organizations mount 3,278 exhibitions and productions with 23,255 opportunities to participate, provided arts access and arts education to 954,202 school aged youth, offered 1,832,621 free tickets, and attracted 2,712,179 guests. These grants supported 380 full-time and 318 part-time staff positions, as well as engaged 6,775 artists.

Applications for the Operating Support program undergo a multi-level vetting process. First, applicants are screened by overall eligibility requirements set by the United Arts Standards and Allocations Committee (comprised of United Arts board members). Second the applicant’s financial documents are reviewed to identify trends in stability, sustainability, and management.  Third, applications are scored on the criteria of artistic (or historic/scientific) excellence, artistic merit, and community impact during a panel review process. Panelists are vital to the integrity of the grant review process. They bring their understanding of the arts, arts education, nonprofit management, and the community to evaluate each application.

“Being an Operating Support Grant panelist was an opportunity like no other,” said panelist Kristy W. Hunter.  “As a lifelong patron of the arts, I am pleased to give back to our community. The experience of serving on the panel has expanded my knowledge of the diverse artistic, cultural, and historic organizations whose programs we are so fortunate to be able to access, and which have enriched life for myself and so many others.”

Funding for the Operating Support Grant program is part of the annual operating budget of United Arts which is funded through generous support from corporations, foundations, individuals and the City of Orlando and Orange County.

To donate: https://unitedartscfl.org/campaign-for-the-arts/

2024 Operating Support Grants – Grantee Descriptions

Awards for Calendar Year 2024 Activities

The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, Inc. ($33,200.00) preserves the 200+ piece collection of world-renowned Czech American sculptor, Albin Polasek (1879-1965) and offers rotating gallery exhibits throughout the year.

Maitland Art and History Association, Inc. (A&H) ($61,000.00) is comprised of four art and history museums that offer immersive and hands-on experiences. The Maitland Art Center, A&H’s most prominent museum and greater Orlando’s only National Historic Landmark, was founded as an artists’ retreat in 1937 by visionary artist and architect J. André Smith. Today, the center’s art and history exhibitions, resident artist programs, and Art School serve the Central Florida community and honor Smith’s legacy.

ArtReach Orlando (ARO) ($10,000.00) is a private operating foundation founded in 2012. ARO provides art programs for youth experiencing difficult economic and/or social situations who may not have access to the arts. Through the creative process, it explores the link between art, social justice, and the healing process. ARO is supported by an outstanding team of teaching artists and proven partnerships with Orange County Public Schools and other community organizations.

The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Inc. ($80,000.00) presents a diverse season of 24 choral and orchestral concerts, including the annual four-week Bach Festival, Visiting Artists, Insights & Sounds, Choral Masterworks, and the newly created Bach Vocal Artists series, as well as outreach and educational programs celebrating the legacy of J.S. Bach. Founded in 1935, it remains Central Florida’s longest-operating performing arts organization and the third-longest running Bach Festival in the nation.

Bay Street Players, Inc. ($10,000.00) is a community theatre whose home Is the historic State Theatre in Eustis, Florida. The 2023-2024 season will celebrate 102 years of the building that was constructed as a Vaudeville Theatre and the Bay Street Players 49th production season. The mission of the Bay Street Players founders is to provide artists a space to entertain and educate has been well served in this space.

Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts, Inc. ($10,000.00) provides live music concerts, including jazz, classical, Americana, folk, Flamenco, Bossa Nova, spoken word, and other high-performance art. The performers are at a high level of achievement in their craft, providing the audience an opportunity to interact with them via question/answers, sessions, clinics, and other general instruction either individually or in groups. The venue is open to everyone and seats 100 people.

Central Florida Ballet, Inc. ($39,200.00) aims to entertain, educate, and inspire through the universal art form of dance. Innovative and powerful ballet productions, educational programs, and international partnerships are the keystones of the Central Florida Ballet with glowing recognition from The White House, U.S. House of Representatives, ABC News, CNN Headline News, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.

Central Florida Community Arts ($60,000.00) serves the community through performance-based programs – such as the Community Choir and Orchestra – which are open for anyone to join regardless of age, ability, or prior experience, and a School of Arts and Health to provide arts access to vulnerable populations.

Central Florida Vocal Arts (CFVA) ($10,000.00) exists to create a better community through arts education, performance and appreciation. Guided by its core values of Excellence, Impact, Inclusivity, and Equity, CFVA utilizes arts education as a catalyst for social good and community-building. Through its educational programming, it cultivates confidence, self-efficacy and creative problem-solving outcomes, which serve students both on and off stage.

Chance 2 Dance, Inc. ($10,000.00) is Florida’s only nonprofit dance organization exclusively dedicated to quality, accommodating dance instruction and performance opportunities for children, teens, and adults with special needs and disabilities. Dancers benefit artistically, physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally from group and individual classes and performances that are open to the public. Dancers challenge themselves and their audiences by redefining perceptions and expectations of what people with varying physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities can achieve in the performing arts.

Community Communications, Inc. ($10,000.00) has proudly served the community for over 40 years, WMFE produces & curates independent, trustworthy journalism and fact-based content that empowers Central Floridians to understand and engage with the culture, community, and world. As a community-owned and supported nonprofit (89% of WMFE support comes from individual donors and area businesses), WMFE convenes thoughtful, fact-based discussions, elevates human stories, and provides unique cultural programming. These public services are free and accessible to all via FM and HD radio, on-demand digital platforms, social media, and live events.

Crealde Arts, Inc. ($68,000.00) provides community-based visual art experiences to an average of 50,000 Central Floridians and visitors annually. The school offers an annual curriculum of 169 different classes taught by 44 faculty plus guest instructors on three campuses in Winter Park and Winter Garden, mentoring opportunities for emerging artists, three free galleries, a sculpture garden, traveling exhibitions and outreach programming that includes the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, established in 2007 as a tribute to Winter Park’s historic African American community.

Creative City Project, Inc. (CCP) ($25,000.00) began in 2012 as a group of artists performing on street corners and in plazas around Downtown Orlando, now a decade later CCP is fulfilling its mission to cultivate a thriving arts community in Central Florida through a more profound sense of ownership and care for Orlando amongst its residents while shaping the global perception of The City Beautiful which is known for its innovation and creativity.

Downtown Arts District (DAD) ($32,400.00) is a dedicated nonprofit organization for advancing arts and economic development in the City of Orlando. Established in 2000, DAD represents and serves the arts community by operating CityArts Orlando (CityArts), producing arts engagement events, executing public art projects, and connecting artists to the business community. Offering a little something for everyone, DAD focuses on the visual arts, storytelling, music, and diverse cultural experiences.

Emotions Dance, Inc. ($10,000.00) consists of a professional contemporary dance company that focuses on social and environmental awareness through the art of dance, dance education training, and programs that enrich the local community. Emotions Dance’s programming emphasizes strong technical training and education combined with passionate artistry.

Enzian Theater, Inc. ($85,000.00) provides diverse cinematic programming and innovative educational collaborations as well as several acclaimed film festivals. Over 1,000 films screened in 2023 including world premieres, new releases, independent films, repertory cult classics, family programming and more. Enzian shares the stories and cultures of people from all over the world through the medium of film.

The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, Inc. (FSYO) ($35,500.00) has offered an opportunity for young musicians of all levels to learn, explore, and excel, not only in their musical disciplines but in all aspects of their lives since its inception in 1953. FSYO’s ensembles give each student a place to excel with peers at a similar level and an opportunity to collaborate with seasoned music professionals on local, national, and international levels.

FusionFest Inc. ($10,000.00) is a vibrant and inclusive multicultural organization that brings together the diverse communities of Central Florida on a shared platform celebrating the tapestry of traditions, music, dance, art, and flavors that define our region’s unique identity. People of all ages can immerse themselves in a dynamic blend of cultural expressions. The signature events include the free Annual Multicultural Festival, the Fusion Culinary Arts Contest, the MYgration Films Festival, the Diversitastic! Dining Experience, and the Multi-Colors & Cultures Visual Arts Exhibition.

Garden Theatre, Inc. ($45,000.00) originally operated as a single-screen movie theatre in 1935, closed in 1963, and was renovated and re-opened in 2008 in historic downtown Winter Garden, Florida. Celebrating the performing arts and theatrical experiences that are innovative, impactful, and inclusive, programming includes professional live theatre, concerts, special events, movies, and year-round arts programming.

Global Peace Film Festival, Inc. ($10,000.00) presents films from around the world that speak to the aspiration of peace. The annual festival, anchored around the International Day of Peace in September, also includes art exhibits, music and other performances. Throughout the year, GPFF presents screenings and special events including the Indie Lens Pop-Up series of preview screenings of documentaries that will premier on PBS. Special screenings throughout the year with collaborative partners, including arts & culture and community-based organizations, round out the program

HAPCO Music Foundation, Inc. ($10,000.00) creates educational programs that help the Central Florida community build better futures. Through these programs, young people can further their education through music and the arts. HAPCO assists youth, particularly in low-income communities, who aspire to a career in the arts use their talents to fund their higher education. Since 2001, HAPCO has worked to instill a passion for excellence through music, arts, and educational opportunities.

Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc. ($43,000.00) is a nationally award-winning, American Alliance of Museums accredited, and Smithsonian affiliated institution. The museum focuses on serving the community through public engagement, in providing exciting exhibitions and programming, and in providing access to and in preserving local history.

Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida ($60,000.00) was founded in 1981 by Tess Wise, a Holocaust Survivor from Poland, who believed that the lessons of the Holocaust could be used to understand contemporary social and human rights issues. The Holocaust Center offers free admission for all visitors and houses two permanent exhibits, a VR experience, and a special exhibition gallery. The Center hosts Holocaust remembrance commemorations, dynamic programs, virtual lunch & learns, and robust education for students and teachers.

Howey Mansion Music Series Inc. (HMMS) ($10,000.00) is a jazz and classical music series that creates opportunities for people of all walks of life to learn about and hear concerts in the historic Howey Mansion. Due to the waning interest for these genres from lack of education about these art forms, HMMS makes an impact by presenting 6 concerts per season with musicians of the highest caliber who share fun facts about the pieces to grow audiences and foster appreciation for this music now and for the future.

International Fringe Festival of Central Florida Inc. ($50,000.00) produces the longest running Fringe Festival in the US, drawing over 60K people to local and international performances, art, music and kids’ events. 100% of ticket sales are returned to artists. Fringe also runs a year-round, artist-driven venue on Church Street called Fringe ArtSpace.

Leesburg Art Festival, Inc. ($10,000.00) believes that the arts transform lives and is a judgement-free zone for art discovery, exploration, and experimentation, where our community cultivates a friendly environment for artists and creative people of all ages living or visiting in the Greater Leesburg and Lake County, Florida area.

Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art ($15,000.00) provides various programming opportunities to fulfill the museum’s mission to celebrate outstanding traditional and contemporary American art and artists across a broad range of disciplines. In addition to honoring Folk Art, recent programs contain contemporary and mid-century exhibitions that consider the legacy of American Realism, American Gothic, Abstract Expressionism, Folk Modernism, and Photography and included works of art by artists of color such as Korean American, Vietnamese American, Native American, African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Puerto Rican artists.

Mount Dora Center for the Arts ($18,200.00) is a community-based organization that supports artistic creativity through class instruction, art workshops, exhibits and events.

Opera Orlando, Inc. ($40,000.00) is redefining the operatic experience in the Central Florida area with theatrical works of high artistic quality & innovative integrity, creatively fusing various genres and mediums to engage the community with original productions & educational programs making opera accessible to all.

Orlando Ballet, Inc. (OB) ($250,000.00) serves Central Florida through 3 focus areas: the professional Company, which provides an annual season of full-length ballets, new works, and non-traditional programs; Orlando Ballet School, which attracts more than 1,500 students annually; and Community Enrichment programs that bring the physical and mental benefits of dance to a wide range of under-resourced individuals.

Orlando Family Stage ($170,000.00) is Central Florida’s foremost professional family theatre where audiences of all ages see their favorite stories come to life on stage. Our award-winning educational programs also reach children and teachers across our community with high-caliber arts programming and access.

Orlando Gay Chorus, Inc. ($10,000.00) inspires individuals, the community, and the world through excellence in musical entertainment. Entering its 33rd year, Orlando Gay Chorus uses music to bring the community together and make the world a better place.

Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) ($150,000.00) is Orlando’s flagship museum and a leading provider of visual art education and experiences serving four counties. Each year, OMA presents 12 exhibitions and provides education programs and art experiences to 135,000 people aged 2-99.

The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Inc. (OPO) ($250,000.00) is led by Music Director Eric Jacobsen and presents four major series annually: Classics for timeless works, Pops for a variety of popular music, Focus for a balanced mix of classical composers and diverse new work, and Symphony Storytime bringing stories to life with live music. The OPO also supports music education and community engagement performances for tens of thousands of people each year. From hospitals to community parks to Steinmetz Hall, OPO delivers live music to more than 150,000 people around Central Florida.

Orlando Science Center, Inc. ($250,000.00) is Central Florida’s award-winning, hands-on science museum. Through immersive exhibits, innovative educational programs, and a deep commitment to community outreach, the Science Center is an invaluable community resource and a leader in the arts and culture industry.

Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Inc. (Orlando Shakes) ($225,200.00), in partnership with UCF, produces innovative classic, contemporary, and children’s theater and offers immersive educational programming in the heart of Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park. Over 35 seasons, Orlando Shakes has evolved to include much more than just Shakespeare to attract a wider audience, promote diversity, inspire budding artists, and support new playwrights.

Performing Arts of Maitland, Inc. (PAM) ($10,000.00) provides financial support to seven musical performing groups and one 2-semester 8-week art class for seniors: Maitland Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Baroque Chamber Orchestra (BCO), Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra (OCCO), Chamber Music Players (CMP), Maitland Stage Band (MSB), Maitland Market Musicians (M3), PAMCares, and Creative Arts for Life (CAL).  Each of these groups has its unique mission in the community of entertaining and educating their audiences and are led by a director.

Snap! Cultural Events, Inc. ($10,000.00) consists of Snap! Downtown, a contemporary photography & art gallery, and CITY UNSEEN, a public [AR]t project; offering diverse programming in collaboration with local, national, and international partners. Snap! is a visual arts cultivator and place maker, providing meaningful engagement among artists and patrons through innovative exhibitions, enlightening educational events, and the expanding CITY UNSEEN Augmented Reality [AR] perennial public art museum. Snap! spotlights exemplary international artists, and recognizes and mentors promising local, regional, and national talent.

The Steinway Society of Central Florida, Inc. ($10,000.00) provides keyboards, refurbished pianos, and free piano lessons to economically and culturally disadvantaged children.  The Society also sponsors concerts, recitals, workshops and master classes for the general public, as well as for students in a school setting.

Timucua Arts Foundation ($10,000.00) is a multi-faceted arts and education institution, presenting concerts and festivals, operating the unique and intimate Timucua venue, and delivering education and wellness programming to people of all ages. Timucua’s distinctive integration of the performing and visual arts has carved a niche for high-level, accessibly priced programming in an intimate venue. Presenting jazz, contemporary classical, and world music, theater, film, poetry, and visual art.

Urban Think Foundation, Inc. (Page 15) ($16,000.00) transforms lives through the power of words through its language arts and empowerment programs which include Daily After-School Literacy Enrichment, Student Publishing Opportunities, Innovative Literacy Camps and Workshops, and Community Collaborations. Page 15 offers students of all abilities the opportunity to express their creativity through journaling, poetry, and other creative writing projects in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.

Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, Inc. (WGHF) ($10,000.00) preserves the heritage of West Orange County. WGHF accomplishes its mission by operating three locations in Winter Garden: The Heritage Museum, which features exhibits on the history of West Orange County; the History Research, Education, and Visitors’ Center, which houses an extensive archive documenting the area’s past; and the Central Florida Railroad Museum which showcases the influence the railroad has had in the development of Florida.

Winter Park Historical Association (WPHM) ($10,000.00) is an exhibition and collections-based organization focusing on Winter Park History.  The WPHM collects and preserves thousands of relevant city archives for research and exhibition purposes. The free museum relies on grants and private donations to fund rotating exhibitions and the WPHM Archives and Special Collections.

The Winter Park Playhouse ($38,000.00) is Central Florida’s professional musical theatre and proudly serves 30,000+ residents and visitors annually through dynamic year-round programming including musicals, cabarets, concert events, community outreach programs and the internationally recognized Florida Festival of New Musicals.

Applications for 2025 Operating Support grants will be accepted in the summer of 2024. For a full list of qualifications and requirements to receive this grant, please visit: https://unitedartscfl.org/grants/




About United Arts of Central Florida

United Arts of Central Florida is the local arts agency uniting the community and fueling the arts. With the help of individual donors, corporations, foundations and public funding, United Arts inspires creativity, builds community and strengthens the economy in Central Florida. United Arts is proud to facilitate arts education programs for all ages and provide critical funding and comprehensive marketing for local art, science, and history organizations and individual artists.

For more information, visit https://unitedartscfl.org or call 407.628.0333.

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