The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville invests in the arts and culture to enrich life in Northeast Florida. By working with a variety of community partners, we weave the arts into the fabric of everyday life in this region. We advocate for the arts and artists of our region because we know that together we can create transformative experiences that empower and inspire our community, facilitate the exchange of diverse ideas and perspectives, promote civic engagement, and encourage creative problem solving.
Whether you live in Jacksonville or you are visiting the region, you can engage with the arts from Monday through Sunday. Please remember, the arts and culture sector is an asset that requires investment. Your patronage, whether it is in the form of making a donation to a non-profit cultural organization, buying tickets to an event, or purchasing the work of our artists, is what will ensure a vibrant arts and culture sector in Northeast Florida for future generations.
Below are 11 ways that we recommend enriching your life through the arts and culture of Northeast Florida. Please note: We tried to be as inclusive as possible with this article. If we left something out that you'd like to see included, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your suggestion.
ATTEND A PERFORMANCE AT ONE OF JACKSONVILLE'S THEATRES OR PERFORMING ARTS CENTERS
Greater Jacksonville is home to a number of performing arts centers and theatres. These venues offer diverse programming nearly 365 days a year. Venues for performing arts include:
Through these cultural assets, you can experience national, regional, and local performing arts, including live music, theatrical productions, and classical as well as modern dance. In addition to in-house programming, productions are facilitated or performed by:
LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS REGION
Northeast Florida is rich in history. Individuals have come from, and events have occurred in, Greater Jacksonville that are both culturally significant and historically important. Individuals such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, James Weldon and John Rosamond Johnson, Augusta Savage, and Paul Rogers, just to name a few, lived in this region, yet their work was far-reaching.
Jacksonville, positioned as The Gateway to the Sunshine State, played a critical role in the advancement of the American film industry. Northeast Florida captured the attention of film makers because of its warm climate, exotic locations, advantageous rail system, and varied architecture. In the early days of the 20th Century, production companies relocated to Jacksonville and the city quickly became The Winter Film Capital of the World.
Jacksonville also contributed to the progression of the African American film industry. In 1916, producer Richard Norman relocated to Jacksonville and founded Norman Studios, one of the first production companies to make movies for African American audiences. These films were important because they represented a cultural shift. Norman Studios employed African American casts and crews and the films portrayed African Americans in a manner that was radically different from previous dramatizations and stereotypes.
LaVilla, Jacksonville's first suburb, was once considered The Harlem of the South because of its vibrant culture and legendary performance venues. By 1929, Ashley Street was a hotbed for jazz and rhythm & blues music. R.C. Robinson, a blind teenager who attended the Deaf and Blind School in St. Augustine, began his career as a musician at the Ritz, performing as their house pianist. He eventually left Jacksonville and built quite the career for himself, recording and performing under the name Ray Charles.
Southern Rock was also born in this region. Bands such as Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Allman Brothers Band all came from Jacksonville. Decades later, this region was also a major contributor to the birth of nu-metal. Jacksonville bands such as Limp Bizkit, Shinedown, and Cold helped to pioneer and grow the genre.
There are several organizations who make it their mission to preserve the history of Northeast Florida. These organizations include:
ATTEND AN ARTS MARKET OR FESTIVAL
Neighborhoods throughout Greater Jacksonville host weekly and monthly art centric markets. At these markets, individuals can purchase locally made arts and crafts, enjoy cuisine from food vendors, and listen to live music. Such markets include:
There are also annual festivals that include components of visual, literary, performing, and the culinary arts. These events are both entertaining and enlightening - showcasing local, regional, national, and international talent. These festivals serve as drivers of tourism and economic activity in Jacksonville. Festivals include:
READ THE WORKS OF LOCAL LITERARY ARTISTS
There are literary artists in Northeast Florida whose work span a wide variety of topics and genres. These artists have been published as novelists, poets, scholars, and screenplay writers. You can experience many of their works by attending JaxbyJax, an annual literary festival. Literary artists include:
Many of these writers have had their materials published in books or literary magazines. Bridge Eight Literary Magazine and Perversion Magazine are two publications out of Jacksonville that provide a platform for emerging, mid-career, and established writers.
Chamblin Bookmine, Chamblin's Uptown, and San Marco Bookstore are local bookstores with sections dedicated to regional writers.
ENJOY LIVE MUSIC AT ONE OF JACKSONVILLE'S MANY VENUES
On almost any given night of the week you can catch a musical performance at one of Jacksonville's concert halls, bars, or coffee shops. In addition to the major venues, such as the Florida Theatre, Daily's Place, and Veterans Memorial Arena, you will find an array of venues throughout the region that program musical performances that vary from local independent acts to national touring groups. Whether your preference is bluegrass, hip hop, punk rock, or jazz, there is a venue in Jacksonville that caters to your tastes. Music venues in Jacksonville include:
Some notable musical acts who live and perform in Greater Jacksonville include:
TAKE IN VISUAL ART AT A MUSEUM, GALLERY, OR AN ARTIST'S STUDIO
There are four main arts and humanities museums in Jacksonville. These cultural institutions display rotating touring exhibitions while also maintaining a permanent collection of works. Museums include:
Museums are not the only location where interested individuals can experience visual art. There are galleries throughout Greater Jacksonville that exhibit and sell work by visual artists. Many of these galleries host events with the artists present when a new exhibit opens. Artwork can be found on display in these galleries:
The Jacksonville Public Library is also a great place to experience visual art. The Main Branch has a gallery that hosts rotating exhibits on its ground floor. Additionally, nearly every branch has art on display, including murals, photography, and sculptures.
You can also find artwork on display in a number of non-traditional spaces, such as coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques. Such spaces include:
Some artists are also willing to conduct studio visits with individuals who are interested in their work. In addition to private studios, there are several collective studio spaces in Jacksonville where artists not only create but also hold critical conversations with their peers about techniques, processes, and bodies of work. These interactions serve artists greatly as they develop in their career and work to expand their markets. Studio spaces include:
WATCH A MOVIE AT AN INDEPENDENT, HISTORIC MOVIE THEATER
Nestled in the middle of 5 Points is Sun-Ray Cinema. The historic building was once home to the Riverside Theater, which opened in 1927 and was the first theater in Florida equipped to show talking pictures. In addition to sound, the theater also had the distinct advantage of air conditioning - something that is still valued to this day in our hot Southern climate. Inside the doors of Sun-Ray you’ll find a unique theater experience. The interior walls are adorned with murals painted by artist Shaun Thurston and the theater offers a full menu (including vegan friendly snacks and entrees), with the names of food items linked to Jacksonville's film history.
In the middle of San Marco Square is the San Marco Theatre, which was built in 1938. The theater and its art deco facade were designed by architect Roy A. Benjamin. This isn't the only theater that Benjamin designed. He also designed the Imperial Theatre (demolished), the Palace Theatre (demolished), the Riverside Theatre (now Sun-Ray Cinema), and the Arcade Theater, as well as serving as Associate Architect during the development of the Florida Theatre. In 2001, USA Today included the San Marco Theatre in their list 10 Places to See Classic Cinema.
ATTEND A LECTURE, SEMINAR, OR CREATIVE WORKSHOP
Artists, arts professionals, and arts educators in Jacksonville are eager to share their knowledge with others. Information is shared through a number of mediums, including lectures, seminars, and workshops. Examples include; Q&As with artists during an exhibition opening, a panel discussion that promotes critical discourse related to a specific theme or topic, or group workshops tailored to teach artistic processes or craft.
There are also organizations in Jacksonville, such as Long Road Projects and the Jazz Discovery Series, that import nationally and internationally renowned artists into Jacksonville to conduct artist residencies and clinics as a means to promote collaboration and information sharing. Educational institutions in Jacksonville, such as Jacksonville University, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Edward Waters College, and the University of North Florida, also bring academics and professionals to Jacksonville to discuss the arts and topics related to the arts. Most of these discussions are open to the public.
Adult and youth workshops, classes, and courses in creative disciplines are offered by a number of organizations. Such organizations include:
GO ON A WALKING OR CYCLING TOUR OF PUBLIC ART
Jacksonville has a visual landscape that is full of murals, mosaics, paste-ups, and sculptures. Public art can be found throughout the city, adorning both City-owned and privately owned surfaces. Jacksonville is home to a number of studio artists, many of whom also work as public artist, including:
The amount of public art in Jacksonville has increased exponentially. Individuals and organizations work diligently to identify priority neighborhoods in Jacksonville where art isn't present and then raise funds to support public art projects. The Cultural Council has an ongoing initiative to map public art in Jacksonville. The map includes artist information and public art locations. It pinpoints pieces owned by the City of Jacksonville through the Art in Public Places Program, which is administered by the Cultural Council, and privately owned pieces. Examples of private public art initiatives include Art Republic, the Jax Kid's Mural Project, the Murray Hill Mural Project, and Sculpture Walk Jacksonville.
The Cultural Council's map of public art makes it easy to plan a walking tour of the city's collection. Another way to conduct an eco friendly sight seeing expedition would be to utilize the services of e2ride Bike Tours. When on a tour, participants can expect to experience historic architecture, natural beauty, and public art.
STAY INFORMED THROUGH LOCAL MEDIA OUTLETS
WJCT broadcasts to Northeast Florida on the radio through 89.9 FM and on television through channels 8 and 7, depending upon your service provider. The station is a program affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). WJCT produces original content that is culturally relevant, informative, and highly engaging. Programming that has a focus on the arts and culture include:
Local publications also do a tremendous job of highlighting the individuals, organizations, and events that compose Jacksonville's arts and culture sector. In such publications you will find interviews with members of Jacksonville's creative community, reviews of cultural events, and topics related to the arts. To stay informed, please consider picking up issues of:
CONNECT WITH THE CULTURAL COUNCIL
This article only represents the tip of the iceberg. Jacksonville's arts and culture sector is continuously evolving. To stay informed, we recommend that you:
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed what you read or you found it helpful, please consider making a donation to the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Your donation supports the advancement of the arts and culture in Northeast Florida.
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