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Monday, July 15, 2024

PRESERVING THE ARTS: Fueling Community and Culture

In June, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the 2024-2025 state budget into law after cutting $1 billion from the $116.5 billion final amount. When information listing what was included in the vetoes was released, it was revealed that more than $32 million in cultural and museum grants was left on the cutting room floor.

Although disheartening, those that champion the arts persevere. In the heart of Delray Beach, Arts Garage stands as a beacon of artistic expression and cultural connectivity. With President & CEO Marjorie Waldo at the helm, the Visual & Performing Arts Venue is more than just a place to bear witness to the beauty of human creation; it’s a community hub where people from all walks of life can come together to celebrate creativity, diversity, and unity.

It’s also great for the economy. Although Arts Garage had a history of struggles before Waldo took over in 2016, in the years since, the venue’s turnaround was nothing short of miraculous. In fact, last year, Arts Garage’s estimated impact on the local/state and federal economy surpassed $2.7 million, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP6)’s Economic Impact Calculator. The arts create jobs and promote local economic development. Audiences are more likely to patronize shops and restaurants, to explore what Delray Beach has to offer. But everything isn’t just about the bottom line. The arts represent the heartbeat of our communities and the cultural impact of Arts Garage cannot be understated.

“The arts have the unique ability to bridge gaps between individuals who might otherwise never interact,” said Waldo. “It can foster a new way of thinking in people that promises a more hopeful future.”

Arts Garage is steadfast in its commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space for everyone. This belief is at the core of Arts Garage’s mission: to use the power of the arts to foster understanding and connection within the community. One of the standout features of Arts Garage is its dedication to accessibility. Annually, the venue provides over 1,000 free tickets to those who cannot afford to ensure that financial barriers do not prevent anyone from experiencing the magic of the arts. This initiative is a testament to Arts Garage’s philosophy that art should be enjoyed by all, regardless of economic status.

Waldo curates a rich and diverse array of programming designed to reflect and celebrate the multifaceted cultural landscape of Del-ray Beach. By filling regional gaps in artistic representation, Arts Garage offers performances and exhibitions that highlight the talents of underrepresented groups. From Haitian Jazz by Jean Caze to performances by Asian artists like Irene Tu and Yoko Miwa, and Indigenous bands, Arts Garage ensures that their stage is a platform for all voices.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, Arts Garage offers scholarships for all children’s programming, including its popular summer camp, Set the Stage. This ensures that no child is turned away due to financial constraints. By providing these opportunities, Arts Ga-rage is nurturing the next generation of artists and art lovers and helping to foster a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

Arts Garage also takes pride in celebrating Delray Beach through dedicated art exhibits and event spaces. Collaborations with partner organizations, such as the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, broaden the reach and impact of its programming. These partnerships enhance the cultural fabric of the community, creating a rich tapestry of shared experiences and mutual appreciation.

Recognizing the importance of engaging all age groups, Arts Ga-rage designs specific programming for seniors and after-school activities for youth. These initiatives extend the organization’s reach, ensuring that the benefits of the arts are experienced by every segment of the community. The new Family Series, set to launch in Oc-tober, exemplifies this commitment by offering exciting performing arts programs for local public school students.

In addition to live performances, Arts Garage supports visual artists through curated gallery exhibits. These exhibits elevate emerging artists and showcase regional talent, providing professional marketing and website placement to help artists gain visibility and recognition. This not only benefits the artists but also enriches the community’s cultural landscape.

Arts Garage’s success is made possible by the unwavering support of its donors, patrons, and partners. The organization expresses deep gratitude for the contributions and trust placed in them by the City of Delray Beach, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), patrons, board members, and grantors. This collective support enables Arts Garage to continue making the visual and performing arts accessible to all.

Arts Garage is more than just a venue; it’s a vibrant cultural cornerstone that champions the arts and fuels community and culture in Delray Beach. Through its inclusive programming, support for emerging artists, and dedication to accessibility, Arts Garage exemplifies the transformative power of the arts in bringing people together and enriching lives. As it continues to grow and evolve, Arts Garage remains committed to its mission of creating a space where art and community thrive together, no matter what news comes out of Tallahassee.

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