Hello from the Carrollwood Cultural Center, where culture meets the community!
On March 19, I sent my staff an email. It was an anniversary email commemorating one year since “the shutdown” (more later about why that’s in parenthesis). I realize it’s an odd thing to celebrate, but the fact that we made it through the storm IS something to celebrate. To summarize the response I received from Education Director Katie Castonguay: We. Did. It.
I am so proud of the year that the Center has had and what we have accomplished. As an arts-based and cultural organization, we pride ourselves on being able to adapt and be flexible. We have made some great leaps forward with enhancements made to our facility, programming, and accessibility.
The pandemic may have slowed us down, but it never fully shut us down completely. We continued to provide enrichment classes, camps, and entertainment all through 2020 through virtual and small-group gatherings.
Before last March, we were poised to break $1 million in revenue. Although the pandemic put a halt to that celebration, I am confident that we will be there again shortly.
While it seemed the world stopped, the Center kept going. We quickly jumped into the virtual field. Was it easy? Not at the time, but we knew that it was something we had to do. Not just for the financial health of the organization but because of something more significant. Something of more importance for the Center’s board and staff – our community.
Since the Center opened in 2008, we have prided ourselves on our community building. So much so that we revised the mission statement several years ago to read, “create culture through community and community through culture.” What does that mean? It means that what happens inside our walls is just as important as what happens outside of them.
Our community support amazes me. I have seen it firsthand as people rally around a cause and support a cause they genuinely believe in supporting. It never shows up on a balance sheet or is listed under an organization’s assets. Still, for me, it is undoubtedly one of the most critical things for an organization to thrive.
One of my greatest joys with the Center is seeing people connect and become friends and family. Families connected by watching their children perform original musicals during summer camp, through meaningful discussions generated by powerful artwork, at large open concerts on our back lawn, and in a student-organized art group. The connections go on. They run deep and have meaning. Yes, the Center’s ripple effect spreads well beyond our walls.
We have and continue to be sustained by people who consider the Center their home. Last year, even amidst the pandemic, more than 45,000 people enjoyed our programs – either in-person or virtually. Even if you have never participated in our programs, our work has positively impacted you. The Americans for the Arts estimates the Center’s impact on the local economy close to $2.3 million.
As we begin to see more vaccine availability and things open up little by little, please know that we are here for you. We never left. We will continue to increase your access to our classes and events through virtual opportunities even as we welcome more and more people through our doors.
We all have a unique opportunity to create a positive milestone that future generations will see as a moment in history. A time when individuals came together to strengthen a community infrastructure through encouragement, growth, and support.
Thank you for supporting the Center!
See you at the Center.