ORLANDO – By noon, there was a massive crowd all around City Hall, one so large it had the look of a political rally.
As it turns out, it was anything but.
For one thing, a section in front of City Hall had been roped off – although there was no stage set up inside it. But there was a bus parked in front of City Hall, and right around noon, to the strong applause of the folks in that crowd, the doors of the bus opened.
A van next to the travel bus may have been a tip off for anyone walking by City Hall and wondering what all the commotion was about. On the side of the van was the logo for La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil, the Quebec-based organization that has been providing artistic entertainment since 1984, including at Downtown Disney.
The performers who got off the bus, in white costumes and white makeup, or dressed as clowns, started mingling with the crowd, performing for them – including for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who posed for photos with the performers.
And in the half hour that the La Nouba entertainers created magic for the entranced crowd, it was all done for free for anyone who showed up early to get a good spot to watch and take photos – or even pedestrians simply walking by.
The performance was a collaboration between La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil and Creative City Project to allow Orlando residents to enjoy a free lunchtime performance featuring more than 30 minutes of dance, live music, and comedic entertainment.
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, in recognition of the important role that the non-profit arts community plays in the Greater Orlando area, and done through an event that’s been named The Creative City Project.
That project is producing a series of free performances that coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month, with diverse performance options available in this city.
“This is our first annual event,” said Theresa Dobritch, spokesperson for the Creative City Project. “We were thinking about this all summer long, and then came to the realization that October was National Arts and Humanities Month.”
So they began scheduling a series of performances throughout the city, all easily accessible to the public – and free, she added.
“We want to tell people that Orlando is a great artistic city,” Dobritch said. “Orlando is such a creative place, that we want to be known for our arts community here, not just Disney. Don’t get me wrong, we love Disney, but we also want people to know there is more to this area than Lake Buena Vista.”
Earlier this month, Dyer issued a proclamation by the city in honor of National Arts and Humanities Month, while noting that 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.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.