Monday, February 15, 2010

Osceola County Funding APPROVED!

Monday, February 15, 2010 marked an evening of intense discussions regarding funding for the Osceola Center for the Arts at the Osceola County Commissioners evening meeting. After months of discussion and promises Center Board members and staff sat in to listen to the final outcome of it's request for operational funding in the amount of $200K which roughly covers the annual expense of it's employee salaries.

Board Chair, Atlee Mercer and Executive Director, Ed Moore opened the discussion with the importance of the Center's products to the community, education, economic development and tourism as well as it's 30 active programs which benefit children, adults and retired equally through out the year. Mercer mentioned that over his experience from this past weekend at the Osceola Art Festival, he had spoken to people from about 30 different states all of which were staying in local hotels for the weekend specifically for the art festival.

In response to the the question at hand regarding the request for $200K Commissioner Michael Hartford stated his disappointment that this had not been addressed during budgeting for the county's Tourist Development Tax and that it was clear to him that the need for the arts in any community is beneficial to education which although may not be obvious in the short term will certainly be visible in the county's future.

The county had been providing per capita funding for the Center for several years which had been taken away with out notice two years ago and by the end of 2009 the Center had been excluded from general revenue funding as well, which fulfills the needs of other Osceola County non-profits such as the Council on Aging as well as building and maintaining roads.

When asked about other funding possibilities Moore replied with plans to create a foundation in the future through selling a portion of the Center's property which is located on Hwy. 192 just east of the Turnpike and by requesting donations from other sources for the foundation to fund the Center with out government spending but that this would not be possible for a few more years. He added that the Center regularly seeks corporate sponsorships but that due to the economy those funds are also very slim.

Commissioner John "Q" QuiƱones pointed out that as an art agency which provides an additional benefit to our tourists and visitors the Center should not be included in general revenue at all, but that the funding should come from the Tourist Development Tax in agreement with Hartford and in line with funding provided for local museums such as the Osceola Historical Society.

Commissioner Ken Smith and Fred Hawkins were also in agreement, but before the vote was cast statements from Commissioner Brandon Arrington were to be heard. Arrington, the former Program's Director for the Center was opposed to funding the Center, despite his arts education and deep felt appreciation for the arts, he indicated that he could not justify funding for the arts when other non-profits in the area were being hit with major budget cuts and roads were not being built. QuiƱones rebutted with the fact that roads and other non-profits could not be funded through the Tourist Development tax due to state legislation, but that the arts can and should be a part of that budget.

In the end the Commission voted 4-1 in favor of providing the Center's request for funding for this year, with a warning that funds may not be available next year. To which Mercer replied 'Thank you and although we know that we will need funding next year, it will be less.'

Osceola Art Festival

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...' as the the famous quote goes - this past weekend began in the roughest conditions and blossomed into a fine Saturday afternoon and Sunday for the Osceola Art Festival! Hard rain and wind gusts of up to 35 mph didn't stop many of the festival artists from setting up on Friday afternoon, but sadly several artists lost their tents and displays in the bad weather - glass was strewn across pavement and tents rolled across the festival grounds like tumbleweeds. But in the end the artists stood strong and made for a wonderful display of talent and beautiful artwork for a cool and sunny weekend.

After all was said and done approximately 155 artists, sponsors, food vendors, galleries and non-profits displayed for thousands of patrons to come visit and purchase original paintings, jewelry, sculptures, photography and pottery. The student exhibit hosted the work of over 200 Osceola County students with prizes going to each school. Best of Show for Elementary, Middle and High School categories as well as the festival winners list will be posted on the Center website at this week.

Thank you to all who came to play and support the arts and we look forward to presenting it again next year - hopefully with better weather and a lot more people!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February is Booming with Art Shows!

1st Place Winner - Andrew M. Grant with his work 'Kaydean' and 'Self Portrait'

I don't know about you guys, but my schedule is popping with art events galore!

The Osceola Center for the Arts held it’s February art opening on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 – “Celebrating Black Artists & Culture” in recognition of Black History Month and presents artwork by Central Florida artists of all back rounds. Director of Visual Arts Jules Davidson judged the event, which showcases the work of 10 artists including two works created by original Highwayman, Al Black, on loan from Osceola local Robert Day.

Orlando artist Andrew M. Grant won 1st place with a charcoal drawing called ‘Kaydean’, 2nd Place went to Seth Novak and Kissimmee resident Priscilla Jenkins won 3rd Place. Each of the winners received gift certificates to participate in the Center’s May art event, ‘The Annual Juried Art Show.’

This exhibit will be on display through February 24th - the Center is open M-F from 9-5. Visit for more information.

This weekend February 6-7 is the Mt. Dora Art Festival, which I have the pleasure of judging this year. I'm looking forward to the show but weeding through 250+ artists will definitely be a challenge! The festival is located in downtown Mt. Dora.

Next week February 11-13th Nude Nite will once again bring 3 nights of beautiful debauchery with 157 artists and over 250 pieces of artwork and installations - it will certainly be a feast for the eyes! Although I did not produce new work for this event you will find my logo as a sponsor as I produce the NN program and title cards. This event is $20 per person, 21 and up and is located in Lake Ivanhoe-Warehouse Antique District, 503 Brookhaven Ave., Orlando, FL 32803. Visit

And last but certainly not least! The 43rd Annual Osceola Art Festival will be setting up at Valencia Community College Osceola Campus on February 13-14 - with over 150 booths, $15,000 in prizes, youth activities, food and entertainment. This year will mark the first year of growth for the event in over 4 years thanks to some creative budgeting and which is an online application process for festivals all over the United States. Artists booths are up by at least 50%. VCC Osceola is located on 192 one mile west of the Turnpike exit 244. For more information visit

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Orlando Art Project

Who would have thought that a convention geared toward surf, skate, and beachwear could produce such a great opportunity for a little known art show called the Orlando Art Project. Coordinated by Atlanta Based Surf Expo's, Vicky Vasil - OAP showcased 8 local and national artists with a spin toward surf, skate and edgy art. Locals included mixed media artists Brandon McLean and yours truly, Juliana Davidson, Photographer Miriam Lorenzi/Miriphoto and Oil Painter Nyahzul. This event occurs in January and August every year.

The Orlando Art Project is free to chosen artists and thanks to Lorenzi's part time job with the Central Florida display company 'Configurations' several of us were able to enjoy the donated benefit of professional displays, lighting and carpet.

Although some artists work sold more than others, I would have to say that some of our new connections made everything more than worth while - as I had an opportunity to network with an Atlanta based gallery and one in Sanibel Island for future art shows with FEMiNATi artists as well as potential commissions.

Our star photographer Miriam Lorenzi also networked several discussions to photograph marketing campaigns and catalog work.

Live skate demos, free custom hats & t-shirts from Volcom, stickers GALORE, free Monster Energy Drinks, Live Murals by locals Andrew Spear and Dolla Bill, 'bum camp at Sector 9 (raising $ for Haiti playing guitars and drumming on 5 gal. buckets) and loads of other live music and dj's made for the best daytime working party ever!

For questions on how to contact Vicki Vasil regarding the Orlando Art Project or other art opportunities email