The holidays are a great time for the arts

Liz Young, executive director with the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s going on in the Keys.

There are a number of lighted boat parades this weekend throughout the Keys.

Young said, “Tonight is the Christmas celebration at the Custom House in Clinton Square, where Key West Historical Society takes over Clinton square, the high school, AV TV production team, very talented, technological kids project holiday short, short, very creative videos on the building. Surrounding the building are decorated holiday trees which the different classes in schools got to do themes. So there’s 12 Christmas trees around the porch. There are tents with artisans and creative people selling fabulous gifts and there’s music. It’s just very old Key West to me, just everybody celebrating in the warm weather and being outdoors during Christmas and Hanukkah. Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. It falls right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I think everybody’s out celebrating.”

Little Shop of Horrors is playing at the Waterfront Playhouse.

Young noted, “The studios of Key West opened last night. Beautiful exhibits opened last night at the studios of Key West. The Murata Way Walk is next week in Islamorada. For the Arts Council, our annual membership party is this coming Thursday. It’s at a private some, so you do have to be a member. There is a link on our homepage. We call it celebrate the season. We are behind the scenes pushing all the other events out front, and giving grants and nurturing and growing our cultural organizations and supporting our artists, but we do get to do this one big party every year and it’s always wonderful. It’s very quick. It’s 5:30 to 7:30. It’s not a big long gala, it’s just a hey, come and say hi to everybody and support the arts council. So if you’re not a member, we do so appreciate that sort of grassroots support that supports our funding from the state and the county. It’s a great night. Then, we send out our calendar every single Wednesday, and it’s filled with events for this week. On our website, if you go to the cultural calendar, you can see everything that’s happening in the coming months so you can plan. If you are an event producer or an artist that’s having an opening and you go to our calendar, and you don’t see your event posted, please email us so we can post your events. Because we’re not mind reader’s. There’s a lot going on.”

The Connections Project 2024 is coming up.

Young said, “We have done the Connections Project, successfully, it is our signature project over the last 12 seasons. This summer, my committees and boards decided that we could shift our focus from the visual arts where we had between 250 and 350 small campuses that we took up and down the Keys, sort of our road trip tour of the Keys with five to seven receptions. This year we are focusing on musicians in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine in the Lower Keys and Key West. We’re going to have five receptions, each one will be at a great venue in that region, and will focus on two to three working musicians, living and working and playing music and the Keys. We’re going to hear their stories. It’s going to be a free reception. There’s going to be food and wine and beer and water and a little bit of talk and a lot of music. We’re going to connect the Keys through these fabulous musicians. I wrote a grant for with the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, so our musicians obviously will we support paying our artists, so our musicians will be paid for their time. At each of the five receptions, we’re going to have a board of 24, eight by six canvases that will also be for sale to support the grant programs of the Arts Council. So it’s really full circle. We’ll have a lot of music and fun and a little bit of talk, and visual arts and food and wine and beer and water. I’m really excited about it. The first one is going to be at Kona Kai resort in Key Largo, with three Upper Keys musicians, entertaining us and talking to us. If you’ve not been to Kona Kai, it is a botanical wonder hideaway niche resort, I think they have 20 rooms. It’s adult only. It’s right on the bay side of Key Largo. It’s magical. I’m really excited about that big grand opening. The information is on the Connections Project on the Keys Arts page. Everybody’s invited and my grant with Community Foundation is really also about broadening our audiences. So because it’s free, we really want our workforce and our educators and our EMTs and police officers and workers and hospitality workers, we really want to encourage people to take an hour to themselves and come join us and have fun.”

Royal Furniture supports the Connections Project.

Young said, “Absolutely. They were my very first sponsor 12 years ago, and we appreciate the family and they partnered with us because they have businesses in Key Largo, Marathon and Key West. Royal Furniture is just a great, great business and huge art supporter. So they were really excited to hear how we were shifting, changing it up a little bit and focusing on music. I’m thrilled.”

All of the amazing museums and places to visit can be found on the Arts Council website.

Young said, “We’ve got the arts directory, I call it the yellow pages for the arts, is under artists connections. We’ve got the weekly calendar, the quarterly calendar, the daily calendar is on there. We promote everything from all the great museums, Upper, Middle, Lower Keys. Classes, everybody’s got their lecture series starting at the Botanical Garden, the diving Museum has a monthly lecture. I know this week, Ralph de Palma is part of the distinguished speaker series for Key West Art and Historical Society and it’s going to be at the Tropic. Mel Fisher’s having a big year, the Little White House is up and running. The Fringe Theatre is about to open their next show. I’m really excited about all the great things and happenings at Williams Hall, Key West Theater, the libraries have been doing some just amazing programming that we’re seeing more and more. There’s a lot of new galleries. We just got the new gallery guide this week and the culture magazine, both of which we do with the Tourist Development Council. Those brochures are in all of the chambers of commerce, all five of them and then my advisors and board members, distribute them to the galleries and all the theaters and museums, so that when people come to visit they see our vibrant community.”

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