In a day and age when texting fervently is frowned upon, there is finally just cause. The Key West Art & Historical Society, one of Florida’s oldest not-for-profits, has won out over five other South Florida organizations competing for the Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award, a contest won by collecting the most text message votes.
“These monies will directly support our efforts to empower the next generation of artists, dreamers and believers through educational outreach to schools throughout Monroe County,” says Society Executive Director Michael Gieda.
Specifically, the $20,000 award money will fund the organization’s new initiative to bring the museums into the classrooms and the classrooms to the museums, inspiring children with the region’s diverse arts and history while familiarizing them with some of the city’s prominent artists: Ernest Hemingway, Suzie DePoo, Mario Sanchez and Stanley Papio.
Social media played a large part in The Society’s grassroots campaign efforts, with their “Show Us Your Text” campaign prominently raising awareness about the grant opportunity. Their “Pop-up Block Party” in front of The Custom House Museum also proved to engage and inform the community, providing free live music and museum entrance while offering supporters, locals and visitors “a unique opportunity to pause and celebrate the vibrant cultural heritage of the Florida Keys,” says Gieda.
“We successfully engaged new audiences and brought an entire community together to champion and support children’s museum education,” he continues. “At the end of the day, our mission is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the Florida Keys. The People’s Choice competition provided an avenue for us to fulfill that mission and we are thankful to all the Conch Republic and the Knight Foundation for assisting us in doing so.”
The Challenge, sponsored by the Knight Foundation in partnership with the Miami New Times, invests in artistic excellence by funding arts projects that engage Knight resident communities in collective cultural experiences. Each People’s Choice Award nominee began as one of 75 finalists in the 2014 Knight Arts Challenge, a competition that rewards the best and most innovative ideas for the arts.
The organization’s original proposal for a Kinetic Sculpture Parade was that innovative idea, something the Society’s Director of Programs and Membership Gerri Sidoti has been envisioning for several years.
“It’s been in my back pocket for a while,” says Sidoti. “I didn’t invent the wheel but I am taking the idea and tailoring it to our community.”
Sidoti’s idea plays off of three national cutting-edge race events that feature kinetic sculpture in Humbolt, Baltimore and Philadelphia. The Key West Art & Historical Society’s human-powered, moving art parade will not be race oriented but will prominently feature bicycles, health, art and recycling in ways that require people to be both logical and creative. Discussions about a live music component and a Kinetic Kouture fashion show have also begun.
“We’re still putting all the pieces together to be in sync with our community, but we definitely want something that has an all-age appeal and engages everybody.
“The idea will evolve,” she says. “The event will roll out, no pun intended, in March of 2016.”
In the meantime, the support from the Knight Arts Challenge Award will offer the younger generation of Key West a chance to discover more about their community heritage while cultivating their own dreams and sense of possibility here on an island city that so intrinsically embraces creativity and diversity.
For more information, call Gerri Sidoti at 305-295-6616 ext. 106.