Why Local Arts Matter [Behind the Scenes]

The City of Winter Garden has been driving the community to support local businesses and keep our town afloat through the Love Local Initiative. Love Local is all about supporting the small businesses that make Winter Garden such a unique and special city. The month of April is dedicated to supporting and showcasing the local arts with Arts in April. Arts in April is a month-long focus on the arts with many activities and special exhibits happening.

In order to get a more behind-the-scenes look into Arts in April and its importance, we interviewed the Executive Director of the SoBo Art Gallery and Winter Garden Art Association; Phil Self.

Q. Why are local arts important to a community?

A. I believe the arts are essential to a healthy life and community. The arts provide a creative outlet for the stresses and demands of life…..a positive escape, if you will, for the creator and visual pleasure for the viewers. I believe the arts are essential to a healthy life and community.

Q. How have local arts suffered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our artists, and volunteers in particular, were at risk health-wise and they hosted our Gallery retail hours and staffed most of our events, classes, etc… and are the backbone of our Art Association as a working artist community. However, the classes and exhibitions were canceled resulting in a lack of income and social interaction.

Q. What will be happening on April 17th?

A. Ticketed VIP Access to Immersive Art Experiences the Night of April 17th from 6-9 PM* You can buy tickets here.

Set in several small boutique settings around Historic Downtown Winter Garden, this is our Association’s opportunity to take the Winter Garden Art Experience to a deeper level one night creatively and offer VIP access to specially curated venues downtown. Your $75 Ticket also includes an Annual Membership in our Art Association ($35 Value) and a voucher for a drink at 5 of our Featured Locations that evening: City Hall & Highland Building, SOBO Art Gallery, Crooked Can Brewing Company/Plant Street Market, Pilars Loft, Garden Music, Garden Theatre, and Heller Hall at the History Center.

In addition, there will be a free daylong community celebration throughout downtown that includes a sidewalk chalk art contest, kids art session at the Farmers Market, four art exhibitions, a scavenger hunt, as well as local art for purchase at 20 downtown businesses.

Q. What is the purpose of Arts in April?

A. To showcase the local arts community. The City of Winter Garden, as part of their Love-Local Campaign Downtown, is focusing on the Arts in April. Several events and Art Exhibitions are happening throughout the month to provide opportunities for the community to enjoy and explore art.

Q. What purpose is Art Night VIP serving? Any additional comments about Arts in April or local arts?

A. Our annual fundraising GALA held in the pavilion each year was a catered sit-down event for about 300 people. With the current climate, we had to postpone that type of event beyond our current fiscal year which put a strain on our projections and plans for the upcoming year. After a follow-up Board meeting strategizing ways to raise support in other ways, we had an incredible response from two sources: The City of Winter Garden and our Patrons. The City helped us through the Love-Local campaign supporting the Arts, facilitating a Public Arts Display that allowed for Social Distancing, and a Private Ticketed VIP Experience for our greatest Patrons and Supporters. We are humbly thankful for the City and our Patrons. We know this is a first-year for this type of event so it will be a new experience for the Arts in Winter Garden. Thank You to everyone in the City of Winter Garden that helped and are helping to make this happen including the Patrons and all of the Business Owners that have supported us so generously.


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