ORLANDO – The City Beautiful may be well known for its large banking institutions downtown and for close proximity to the big theme parks, but what some people don’t know, Jennifer Quigley said, is just how many artists this city attracts.
In fact, there are so many artists contributing to the city’s cultural scene, she said, that a new study by Americans for the Arts indicates the artistic community is a huge driver of economic development in Orlando.
“It’s estimated that it generates $94 million worth of spending in the city,” Quigley.
That’s part of the reason why Orlando is ready to launch a new initiative, known as See Art Orlando, to put an additional focus on the artistic contributions of city residents – and, hopefully, to use that to provide even more growth to the city’s economy, said Quigley, a member of its board of directors and the spokesperson for the program.
“The response to the call for artists already has been phenomenal, both locally and nationally,” she said.
See Art Orlando was recently launched as a public sculpture community project, intended to enhance the aesthetic experience and cultural image of downtown Orlando through a simple mission: the installation of iconic works of art throughout the city’s core.
It’s designed, as Quigley noted, to build on Orlando’s already vibrant arts community, which the Americans for the Arts study says helps support nearly 3,487 local jobs.
“This is the decade for the arts in Orlando, from the construction of the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to this new collaborative project,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “The arts are thriving in our community. I believe this project will further propel downtown Orlando as a destination for not only residents from across the region, but also our visitors.”
This project was a collaboration between the mayor’s office and the local arts community, Quigley said.
“The mayor had the idea and he talked to myself, and I’m a part of the arts community, and we talked to other people who are a part of the arts community, and we brain stormed,” she said.
What they created was a non-profit organization comprised of community leaders representing a cross section of regional arts organizations, including United Arts, Downtown Arts District, Orange County Cultural Arts Advisory Board, City Arts Factory and the Florida Theatrical Association.
In addition Dyer and Quigley, who chairs its board of directors, the other members are Frank Billingsley, the mayor’s chief of staff; Linda Landman Gonzalez, vice president of community relations and government affairs for the Orlando Magic; Donna Dowless, chairman of XOXO Media Group; graphic designer Jocelynn White; Ron Legler, president and CEO of the Florida Theatrical Association; and Wendy Connor, president of True Marketing.
This project is being divided into two phases. In the first, the city is asking artists to create and contribute nine permanent sculptures that will be installed in high-visibility spots in the downtown.
Each installation is expected to be underwritten by corporate sponsors and maintained by the City of Orlando without the use of taxpayer dollars, the mayor’s office noted.
The first phase of sculptures is expected to be installed by the summer of 2013.
The project just put out a local, national and international call for artists, since as Quigley noted, “Public art enriches our quality of life and will engage both visitors and residents alike. Our vision is to have artists from across the globe and here at home create contemporary sculpted art that reflects our young, dynamic community’s spirit.”
See Art Orlando is hoping to get experienced, professional sculptors to create the works of art to be displayed in downtown, and artists need to apply by Oct. 15, through the project’s Web site at seeartorlando.com.
“We hope to have the selection of the artists by November 13, and the art installed by the summer of 2013,” Quigley said. “We’ve gone out and raised private sponsorships to put anywhere between seven to nine private sculptures downtown, and we want to try to get the latest contemporary public sculptures that the board and private donors will pick for those locations.”
After that, Quigley said, they envision te next phase of the project: the creation of a walking tour that takes residents and tourists alike to see the sculptures in the city’s beautiful outdoor weather.
“We’re hoping that this outdoor sculpture program will put together a walking tour so it becomes a destination,” she said.
Several of the sponsors said they signed on to this program because they recognized how much it could bring to downtown.
“Massey Services proudly supports the arts community in Orlando and we are pleased to be a part of this public sculpture community project,” said owner Harvey Massey. “The development of See Art Orlando, along with our new performing arts center, establishes Orlando as a vital and vibrant arts community, provides a source of pride for our residents, and promotes growth and prosperity within the Central Florida Community.”
Khaled Akkawi, the owner of Shoot Straight, said “I moved to Orlando in 1980 from Beirut, Lebanon. I attended Boone High School, Valencia College, and the University of Central Florida and I am very proud to be able to make a lasting contribution to the city I am proud to call my home.”
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