David J. Ruiz: Community involvement needed in cultural activities – O…


Gainesville is a mecca for diverse, creative and passionate cultural offerings.

The city of Gainesville has a citizen advisory board, the Cultural Affairs Advisory Board. Its purpose is to advise the City Commission in regard to interest in and promotion of the arts and eco-heritage tourism, to develop local cultural resources, and to assist the cultural affairs manager in the planning and implementation of community cultural involvement.

The city’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department does tremendous work considering its small staff numbers. Volunteers are essential to the great output of this department.

From October 2017 to September 2018, the department’s total number of volunteers were 3,230 who completed 33,203 hours of volunteer work and support. The dollar value of these dedicated volunteers and service hours totaled to $860,654.09. This says a great deal about the community and its focus on giving via service.

In this time of continued arts funding cuts by the state, we must rely on volunteers and the public even more. Florida’s Legislature has consistently gutted state funding for arts and cultural programming.

Florida now stands at 48th out of 50 states in arts funding. Florida was previously number 10 in the country in such funding. As stated in the August 31 edition of The Alligator newspaper, “State funding to arts programs in Alachua County fell from 46 percent of what’s requested to just 6 percent, blindsiding local cultural organizations.”

However, culture and arts are economically viable: The creation, management and distribution of arts employs many and attracts a great number of tourists. Florida’s Department of State has declared Florida’s arts-and-cultural sector to be a $4.7 billion economic engine creating 132,366 jobs.

The Cultural Affairs Advisory Board invites you to join us in volunteering with parks, recreation and cultural affairs. We also seek your help in promoting Gainesville’s diverse cultural activities and arts. As an advisory board, we welcome and encourage community involvement. Board meetings are open to the public on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Thomas Center at 5:30 pm.

We encourage you to support your local museums, art galleries, cultural centers, music venues, and cultural events. We hope you visit our marvelous cultural assets. You can visit 352Arts.org and http://www.cityofgainesvilleparks.org for more information.

Finally, to help advocate for arts and culture check out Florida’s Cultural Alliance at flca.net. We need arts and the arts need you.

David J. Ruiz is chair of the Gainesville Cultural Affairs Advisory Board.


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