Sandy Shaughnessy, is the director of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs.
A&G – WHY CULTURE BUILDS FLORIDA?
Culture Builds Florida was established as a campaign for the Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida’s state arts agency, to spotlight the vital role of arts and culture in our state. The initiative was launched with a well-attended conference in Tampa that attracted representatives of various sectors, including non-profits and for-profit businesses, state and local government, and artists themselves. Along with a dedicated social media strategy, we established the Culture Builds Florida blog to spotlight the Division, and the role played by the arts in Florida’s economy and lifestyle. Our agency will use Culture Builds Florida to successfully promote the arts, and to show how they benefit every resident of this state, and every visitor to this state.
A&G – WHY NOW?
When Florida’s economy suffered during the national recession, cultural organizations felt a significant hit. As our state’s economy recovers – and even when it’s back to full-strength – we need to stress the importance of the arts and culture to our state. And to show how Florida’s cultural community contributes to our economy in a very significant way.
A&G – WHAT’S THE MAIN GOAL/MISSION OF CULTURE BUILDS FLORIDA?
Our primary mission is to grow public understanding about the benefits of arts and culture to Florida’s lifestyle, and to its economy.
A&G – WHAT ARE YOUR THREE MAIN PRIORITIES NOW?
The three main priorities for this campaign have remained consistent. Culture Builds Florida intends to advance the conversation about arts and culture – and their benefits for our state and its people. We’re also working to engage Florida’s broad and diverse cultural community, particularly those organizations and businesses unable to participate in the Division’s grant programs, in order to unify our cultural community. Finally, we want to position the Division of Cultural Affairs as the leading resource about Florida’s cultural treasures, in order to help our cultural community thrive.
A&G – TELL US ABOUT THE ECONOMIC IMPACT, ON FLORIDA, OF THE CULTURAL SCENE.
The arts and cultural industry have an annual impact of $3 billion in the state of Florida, and they contribute to a better life for all Floridians, and a better experience for visitors. With an $8-to-$1 return on investment for public dollars, the arts are an excellent investment. Visitors and residents alike make important contributions to our economy by supporting them. And beyond the dollars and cents, the cultural community contributes in myriad other ways to the quality of life here. You can read more about the economic impact of the arts at www.florida-arts.org/resources/factsheet/.
A&G – HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE, IN GENERAL, THE CULTURAL SCENE/AMENITIES IN OUR STATE?
Florida’s arts and cultural scene is unmatched in its diversity. From major urban centers to rural landscapes, you can find the arts – and talented people creating them – everywhere. You can learn about the whole world and its history through the arts in Florida. You can find traditional African drum and dance alongside the great symphonies and ballets of the European masters. Our museums showcase art that’s contemporary and ancient, international and local. And Floridians can access a wealth of cultural resources without traveling far.
A&G – HOW CAN WE MORE-EFFECTIVELY GET THE MESSAGE OUT ABOUT FLORIDA’S CULTURAL AMENITIES…TO BOTH VISITORS AND RESIDENTS?
Everyone needs to be an arts advocate. Spread the word about the festivals, museums, theaters, artists, and performers that you’ve been enjoying. Sometimes people can be too quick to assume what others will or will not be interested in based on age, wealth, or other demographics. Encourage everyone to check out the cultural amenities in our state, from street musicians and outdoor murals to concert halls and upscale galleries.
A&G – HOW, IN YOUR VIEW, CAN FLORIDA’S CULTURAL AMENITIES ENHANCE OUR ECONOMY?
Florida’s cultural amenities and organizations already enhance Florida’s economy in a big way. In 2012, Florida was home to 67,487 arts-related businesses that employed 217,406 people. Over 57-million people attend cultural events in our state each year. In addition to ticket prices, attendance at these events also generates income for other local businesses, such as restaurants, parking garages, hotels, and retail stores.
A&G – DO YOU THINK, IN SOME WAYS, THAT OUR IMAGE OF SUN AND FUN HURTS THE PERCEPTION OF OUR CULTURAL AMENITIES?
I don’t think it hurts the perception of Florida’s cultural offerings, but perhaps it overshadows it sometimes in the popular imagination. I think they can – and should – go hand-in-hand. For example, some of the greatest visual art from our state depicts our beautiful landscapes, among them beaches. We should use art to promote the “fun in the sun” aspect of Florida…but also encourage visitors who come for the beaches to enjoy our cultural offerings, as well.
A&G – DESCRIBE HOW YOU SEE THE FLORIDA CULTURAL SCENE IN TEN YEARS.
That’s hard to say, but I believe that if we all work together to show the importance of the arts to Florida’s economy and quality of life, our cultural scene will be in a very good place. If we can encourage more business, community, and government support for our cultural organizations, they’ll be more resilient when faced with unforeseen economic or environmental events. And everyone in Florida, as well as everyone who visits Florida, will reap the rewards.
A&G – HOW CAN ART & GATOR HELP ENHANCE THE RECOGNITION AND PERCEPTION OF THIS STATE’S CULTURAL LIFE?
Art & Gator can be an important resource for both Floridians and visitors, by connecting them with our diverse cultural organizations and events. By promoting culture along with Florida’s outdoor offerings, I think Art & Gator has the potential to raise the profile of both…and to show that they often go hand-in-hand. A trip to Florida that doesn’t involve arts and culture is a missed opportunity – and Art & Gator can help spread that message.
A&G – WHY ARE YOU PARTNERING WITH ART & GATOR?
Art & Gator partly came out of the initial Culture Builds Florida conference, and because the magazine has many of the same goals as the campaign, we’re happy to be on the same team. We hope to see Art & Gator flourish, and continue its important work in promoting Florida’s cultural offerings.
A&G – HOW DO YOU SEE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CULTURE BUILDS FLORIDA AND ART & GATOR EVOLVING OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
I hope we’ll be able to help Art & Gator draw attention to some of the great cultural events in our state, many of which come from the Division of Cultural Affair’s grantees. As we help Art & Gator spotlight some of these organizations and their offerings, we hope the publication can, in turn, help further the goals of the Culture Builds Florida campaign, by promoting our cultural community.
A&G – WHAT’S YOUR MAIN MESSAGE TO OUR STATE’S BUSINESS COMMUNITY?
The cultural industry puts Floridians to work, stimulates tourism, and provides accessibility to quality community services that attract skilled workers. It’s an industry that provides jobs, highlights the diversity of our state, creates connections to our heritage…and reminds us that Florida is truly a special place in which to live and work. When employees are involved in the arts, they’re more engaged, creative, and productive. Any way you look at it, the arts are good for business in Florida!
A&G – WHAT’S YOUR (PERSONAL) MAIN MESSAGE TO FLORIDIANS?
This year, as we commemorate the 500 years since Florida’s first documented European encounter with the Viva Florida 500 celebration, I encourage all Floridians to check out the great arts and culture events in their communities. History is told through art, and the accumulation of art throughout history builds our culture. In 2013, take advantage of the arts to appreciate this state, its people, and its history.
A&G – WHAT’S YOUR MAIN MESSAGE TO THE READERS OF ART & GATOR?
Florida’s cultural diversity provides a wealth of opportunities for visitors and Floridians alike. There’s always something new to discover here. So take advantage of it, and help us spread the word that Culture Builds Florida. Visit:www.culturebuildsflorida.org
About Florida Division of Cultural Affairs
The Division of Cultural Affairs supports the arts and culture in communities throughout Florida through services, resources and grants. Visit: www.florida-arts.org/