Artists, cultural organizations in Palm Beach County to receive $11m support
The Cultural Council for Palm Beach County is dishing out millions of dollars to the local arts and cultural sector over the next year.
A $10.6 million campaign aims to fund diverse grants and fellowships for creative professionals in the Palm Beaches. It comes on the heels of the Cultural Council’s new "Whimsy & Wonder” exhibition, a free public showcase in downtown Lake Worth Beach.
The council’s president, Dave Lawrence, told WLRN investing in artists "validates" their purpose, and that "artists and creative professionals are cultural ambassadors for Palm Beach County.”
“They're going outside of Palm Beach County. They're having shows, doing performances, exhibitions, through other parts of the state, throughout the country and the world,” Lawrence said. “And we want them whenever they're outside of Palm Beach County to exclaim from the rooftops and the mountaintops that Palm Beach County is Florida's cultural capital.”
Lawrence, who has been with the council for more than 5 years, told WLRN that after a 2022 countywide, post-pandemic needs assessment, officials signed off on a new funding initiative called the Year of Extraordinary Support (YES).
The council partnered with Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council and private philanthropists for the YES campaign, which will also fund cultural organizations — from performing arts and museums to aquariums and gardens.
Lawrence announced last night $3 million will go toward eight large and mid-sized organizations:
- Cox Science Center and Aquarium
- Boca Raton Museum of Art
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
- Maltz Jupiter Theatre
- Ann Norton Sculpture Garden
- Sandoway Discovery Center
- FAU’s Kurt and Marilyn Wallach Holocaust and Jewish Studies Building
- Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
Lawrence said artists and cultural organizations are economic drivers in the county.
“Cultural organizations are returning every dollar invested in their organizations ninefold at minimum,” he said. “So for every dollar invested, they're reinvesting $9 or providing that impact back.”
Jennifer Sullivan, senior vice president of the council, told WLRN "an area rich in culture is a strong deciding factor for relocating for a job."
“Supporting the arts and cultural sector is essential for a community’s quality of life and livability. It drives economic impact to local businesses, creates jobs and enhances education," Sullivan said. "Arts and culture also attract visitors and influence a person’s decision to move to a destination."
The initiative outlines a 10-month Arts Administrator of Color Fellowship in 2024 “to amplify new and diverse voices in arts and culture” and “build a leadership pipeline of arts administrators and graduate students interested in careers in the arts.”
The Artist Innovation Fellowship, which provides up to $7,500 in no-strings-attached grants “to artists across all artistic disciplines,” will also be receiving funding from the YES program.
“[The artists] create work that uplifts, captures a moment in time, or makes you think,” Sullivan said. “This allows us to have shared experiences with people of different races, ethnicities, ages, beliefs, and identities.”
Acclaimed artist Anthony Burks Sr., a previous recipient, told WLRN that he was able to open a studio with the funding. "And a lot of things changed for me afterwards," he said.
The “Whimsy & Wonder” exhibition, with Florida’s flamingos as the marquee theme, is on display at the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County. It features 46 artists and runs from Nov. 17 to Jan. 13.