Art Matters Because It’s In Our DNA - 10 Questions with Sheri Verile, Chief of Security at MOCA Jacksonville
At the time of reporting, there were 291 full-time employees and 413 part-time employees who worked for the 26 non-profit arts organizations in Duval County that received public funding through the City of Jacksonville's Cultural Service Grant Program (CSG) during fiscal year 2016-2017. Add on top of that another 539 independent contractors and 14,776 volunteers. These figures are used to illustrate the fact that a lot of individual and collective efforts go into developing, marketing, and delivering engaging cultural programs and activities that make Jacksonville a better place to live, work, and visit.
Many of these individuals go unseen by the patron's eye as they work behind the scene to execute their organization's mission. But, one employee at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) has taken a role that is traditionally viewed as authoritarian and has elevated it into a role that includes patron engagement, customer service, education, and being a cultural ambassador. That employee is Sheri Verile, MOCA's Chief of Security.
On Thursday, July 19, the public had an opportunity to engage with the artists and artist groups that have been commissioned for Phase II of the DIA Urban Arts Project. A meeting was held at the Jax Makerspace inside the Jacksonville Public Library's Main Branch. A LOT of valuable input was garnered during this meeting. One attendee described Jacksonville as a kaleidoscope because of the city's wealth of diversity. Many in the audience communicated the need for better representation for people of color and the need for properly sharing Jacksonville's history and authentic identity. At the close of the meeting, all artists thanked the audience for their input and expressed that they see themselves as civil servants and will do their best to honor Jacksonville's residents through the work that they create.
Four artists/artist teams have been awarded commissions in connection to Phase II of the Downtown Investment Authority's Urban Arts Project. Phase II is slated for installation in 2019 in the entertainment district of downtown Jacksonville, known as The Elbow. A total of 114 applicants applied and a nine-member panel of community representatives reviewed applications for the demonstrated ability to address streetscape aesthetics with innovative, functional, and artistically appealing 2-D and 3-D public art. The four commissions were awarded to:
All artists arrived in Jacksonville this week to inform their artist design through a range of community engagement opportunities. On Wednesday, July 18, the group met at Jax Chamber for an in-depth information session about Jacksonville and The Elbow. Artists and stakeholders were then led on a walking tour of The Elbow to identify possible locations for public art.
On Thursday, July 19, the public is invited to engage directly with the artists at the Jax Makerspace inside the Jacksonville Public Library's main branch. It's a great opportunity to be a part of the public art process by sharing your opinions of, and aspirations for, Jacksonville with the artists. The event starts at 6:00 PM.
You are also invited to take a Phase II Stakeholder Survey.
The Arts Do Improve Quality of Life - 10 Questions with JaMario Stills, Founder of Phase Eight Theater Company
JaMario Stills believes that the arts and creativity should be woven into the fabric of every day life. Don't believe that this is possible? Stop and think about how fashion designers utilize artistic skillsets to create the clothes you're wearing. Reflect on the music that you listen to as you workout at the gym, make your daily commute, or prepare dinner. Consider the architecture that makes up Jacksonville's cityscape and the murals, mosaics, and sculptures that accentuate our visual landscape. And if you still needed more reaffirming, mull over the book you're reading to wind down after a long day. These are all small examples of how the arts are present in our daily lives. Yet how often do you actually pause to let stew how much the arts add beauty to life and have the potential to liberate the human spirit?
Stills has dedicated himself to assisting others in realizing that the arts matter. A Jacksonville native who graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in 2000, Stills eventually left Jacksonville to attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, where he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Drama and Theatre Arts. After returning to Jacksonville, he began serving his community by joining the staff at The Performers Academy, a non-profit arts education hub for youth who have an interest in the performing arts, and serving on the Board of Directors for Players by the Sea, a non-profit community theatre located at Jacksonville Beach. In 2014, Stills was appointed by the Mayor of Jacksonville to sit on the Cultural Council's Board of Directors, a position he still holds. He also currently serves on the City's Art in Public Places Committee.
In 2016, Stills identified an opportunity to expand his impact on the community, which led to the formation of Phase Eight Theater Company. As a company, Phase Eight is devoted to fostering great actors through contemporary performances that are to be shared with modern audiences. It is their aspiration to be Florida's premier theater institution by developing new voices for the American stage.
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