ORLANDO – October can be a big month for tourism in Central Florida, as the theme parks roll out special Halloween-themed events to draw in large crowds, like Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights and Disney’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
But the theme parks are not the only ones using this month to get people to explore, rediscover and fully appreciate the creative efforts that others do to entertain the masses.
“The arts enrich and inspire our lives,” said Flora Maria Garcia, the president of the United Arts of Central Florida.
And this month, she added, they will be doing some special in that regard.
October is National Arts and Humanities Month, designed as a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America, and intended to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their communities – and lives.
It’s sponsored by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization founded in 1960 with the goal of advancing the arts and arts education.
It’s also a project being embraced by the United Arts of Central Florida, Garcia said, in recognition of the important role that the non-profit arts community plays in the Greater Orlando area.
“The arts should be celebrated every day, but October holds special significance because it is National Arts and Humanities Month,” Garcia said.
This is going to be done in part through an event that’s been named The Creative City Project, which is producing a series of free performances in October that coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month. Major groups participating in these events include Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando Ballet, Cirque du Soleil, and Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows.
Garcia said there are a lot of wonderful performers ready to show the city what they can do – and the diverse performance options available in this city.
“The Creative City Project will hold events every day this month,” she said.
This is not just an artistic and cultural, but also an economic, endeavor, Mayor Buddy Dyer noted, as he issued a proclamation by the city in honor of National Arts and Humanities Month.
A national study released in August showed that Orlando’s diverse cultural arts community has helped to pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. Americans for the Arts examined 182 communities across the nation, and found that the nonprofit arts community has been big business, and that nonprofit arts groups in Orlando have helped to generate about $94 million worth of spending by tourists, residents and nonprofit organizations, while also leading to the support of nearly 3,487 local jobs.
A lot of this revenue gets generated by activities related to patronizing the arts. For example, people pay to buy tickets to the event, but they also spend money before and after the show on meals or baby-sitting.
That money goes directly into downtown restaurants, shops, theaters, and other venues, and it helps cover the wages paid to local arts employees. In the meantime, the city collects license and user fees from these activities.
Garcia said more information on the city’s cultural and artistic activities can be found on the Web site for The Red Chair Project, Central Florida’s official arts and culture guide, which can be accessed by logging on to http://redchairproject.tix.com.
Orlando City Commissioner Robert Stuart noted that Audubon Park got into the action early, when it hosted Zombietoberfest on Friday, Sept. 25, offering live music, a Zombie Film Festival, a Zombie Walk, Costume Contest, dancing and beer.
It was another example, Stuart said, of just how diverse Orlando’s events are.
“We had more than 400 people come over for the Audubon Park Art District,” Stuart said.
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