Even during the darkest moments of the Covid-19 pandemic, art has continued to be a beacon of hope. Keeping the arts alive has never been more essential. That’s exactly what’s happening in Broward’s arts community as organizations change, adapt, and grow. Here is the latest news on how six pillars of the local arts community are changing, adapting, and preparing to thrive during the pandemic.
By Joanie Cox-Henry.
“I started at the museum when everything was in shutdown,” said Jill M. Brown, who began her role as Director of Coral Springs Museum of Art in July. “I was working remotely and doing a total reorganization.”
The City of Coral Springs took over the museum in January and the museum is set to reopen on October 10. “We’re really excited and are prepping our studios to bring classes back on site,” Brown said. “Working with the staff here has been truly amazing and I also deeply appreciate the city’s dedication to this museum. The cultural sector has taken such a hit worldwide due to the pandemic.”
While building relationships virtually, Brown and her team have been busy planning upcoming events and working to paint and transform the museum’s 17,000 square feet of gallery space. The opening exhibition, 100 Faces of War, [RA1] a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, will be on display October 10 through December 30. Organized in collaboration with artist Matt Mitchell, it features 100 oil portraits of Americans who served the U.S. in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“Groups of six can come in for an hour at a time, free of charge,” Brown said. “We’ve removed the admission fee indefinitely. We really want the community to experience our museum and see what we’re all about.”
Reserve a date and time to tour the exhibition free of charge on Eventbrite.com here.
“We’ve been doing a lot of virtual work and we’re about to launch a new exhibit, Colors of HIV, in November,” said Dr. Requel Lopes, executive director of World AIDS Museum and Education Center. “We offer a historical, intergenerational and cultural approach. We’re breaking down barriers for those living with HIV and AIDS and there’s an educational component to what we do.”
WAM’s team is also putting together a photography exhibit on the intersection of Covid-19 and HIV and what it means to have HIV during the health crisis.
It’s been a productive summer for Florida Children’s Theatre. The not-for-profit organization spent the month of September relocating to its new facility at Broward College. Originally founded in 1952 by two moms in a garage, Florida Children’s Theatre has grown to include everything from MainStage productions to acting classes and more.
“Once we can do productions again, we can add more shows to our seasons,” said Florida Children’s Theatre Executive Artistic Director Janet Erlick. Although there are no set dates for shows, Erlick is hoping the production of “Tuck Everlasting” that had been previously scheduled for May can be presented in December.
“The pandemic changed everything,” Erlick said. “We went online quickly and offered virtual classes. We did a hybrid of small in-person camps with restrictions. We had three groups of 10 instead of 120 kids on campus.”
Erlick is excited to be expanding Florida Children’s Theatre’s circus program and being at Broward College will allow the organization to reach more people.
“One of the things we’re most excited about with the move is that we’re serving the broader community now,” Erlick said. “We were so far East. Now being right off 595, we can expand our services to more families.
Dr. Rufus Jones Jr. is the new Conductor of the Principal Orchestra for Florida Youth Orchestra. Jones made history when his book about conductor Dean Dixon caught the attention of the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg who wrote him a personal letter after reading it. His extensive resume includes years of experience conducting youth and professional orchestras in America and elsewhere.
“We’re thrilled to have Dr. Jones,” said Florida Youth Orchestra President/Executive Director Myra Weaver. “This is our 33rd season and we’ve rented the entire Signature Grand through May to do socially distanced rehearsals. We’ve even made special masks for the orchestra.”
Two virtual performances are scheduled for December and there are plans for an outdoor concert in February.
“The Symphony of the Americas is poised to welcome Maestro Pablo Mielgo onboard to lead the organization through the next exciting chapter of its 33-year history,” said Tracy Roloff, the symphony’s interim Executive Director. “He is a highly motivated visionary who will truly impact the South Florida cultural scene.”
Mielgo is currently living in Spain but in the coming months plans to split his time between South Florida and Spain. “Live music is crucial and it’s very important that we have the opportunity to do live concerts again as soon as possible,” Mielgo said. “Audiences are losing interest in the arts through digital performances. I hope between October and November we can present a small season of live music. People need to feel the experience of live music again.”
Jason R. Hughes was named Executive Director of ArtServe. The longtime sales and marketing executive launched “ArtServe Live,” an innovative series offering instructional components as well as online events to reach the community even while ArtServe was closed.
“We can only have 10 people in here at a time,” Hughes said. “People are currently scheduling private tours of our Emerging Art From War-Torn Syria: War & Hope exhibit, which is on display through October 23. This is the first time this exhibit is in the United States.” Private tours can be set up by emailing SophieB@artserve.org.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team. They’re so passionate about the work we do at ArtServe,” Hughes said. “ArtServe is truly all about serving the community. We want to know what people want to see. We’re here and we’re ready.”