United Arts of Central Florida


Here is a press release from Flora Maria Garcia, President & CEO of United Arts of Central Florida:

As Central Florida students buzz with excitement over the start of a new school year, teachers also have a number of reasons to be encouraged for the year ahead. United Arts is pleased to announce that despite state legislative cuts to funding from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs to arts and cultural groups across the state, United Arts has received substantial funding from both the Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation and Wells Fargo. Their generous contributions to United Arts teacher grants has not only tripled the amount of funding available from $12,000 to $40,000 for this upcoming year but has also protected the teacher grant programming. Teachers grants are in such high demand that available funds are usually depleted within 48 hours of posting their availability so the increase in new dollars will be greatly appreciated by the teachers.


Massey Services Chairman and CEO Harvey Massey explained, “At Massey Services, we believe in being contributing members of our community, with a focus on arts and education. The United Arts’ Arts & Culture Access for School Kids program brings both of those together by allowing schoolchildren to experience arts and culture through a variety of workshops, hands on experiences, and special performances.  We are extremely proud to support this program and provide students the opportunity to learn more about the arts in our community.”


“We understand the importance of United Arts of Central Florida’s efforts to enrich our local communities by investing in cultural and educational initiatives,” said Wells Fargo Florida Community Affairs Manager and United Arts Board Chair Kate Wilson. “Wells Fargo is proud to support the Arts & Culture Access for School Kids program, which enables children to attend performances and workshops focused on performing and visual arts, science, and history.”


Public schools in Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties are eligible for the grant. The funding only covers the program cost, excluding transportation to field trip venues. A maximum of $500 can be awarded to any one school. Eligible programs are listed on United Arts’ online directory of arts education programs for schools, UAArtsEd.com, including more than 75 program options from 25 providers in history, science, music, dance, theater and visual art. Standards-based lesson plans are provided to the teachers to provide easy connections to the students’ learning.


These programs are an important part of the school curriculum, especially for children whose families cannot afford to provide these experiences. “It is becoming increasingly rare for children to be exposed to live arts performances like ballets, orchestra concerts, and plays,” said a teacher from Wolf Lake Elementary in Orange County last year. “It is really great for the students to have the opportunity through school where they wouldn’t have had it otherwise. I also believe that the experience makes what we do in the classroom real to the students. It helps solidify connections and reinforce teaching.”


Teachers can apply for the grant by searching the directory at UAArtsEd.com for a field trip, assembly performance, or workshop they would like to bring to their school. Then they must click “Book this Organization” to submit a request for booking, including potential dates. Using these requests as applications, United Arts will disburse awards in a lottery process starting the morning of September 15, until funds are depleted.


The programs average under $5 per student, or $100 per class; $500 can provide a whole grade-level trip or a school assembly performance. Donors who would like to help support students in their county can go to UAArtsEd.com/page/donate.


United Arts also works with Orange County Public Schools, The School District of Osceola County and other funding partners to provide additional arts experiences for students. In total, over 140,000 student experiences were provided in the 2016-2017 school year across Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.


About United Arts of Central Florida

United Arts is a collaboration of individuals, businesses, governments and school districts, foundations, arts and cultural organizations, and artists. Its mission is to enrich communities by investing in arts, science and history. United Arts serves residents and visitors in Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties through more than 70 local arts, science and history organizations. It raises and distributes funds for these cultural groups and provides management, administrative and advisory services. Since 1989, United Arts has invested more than $145 million in Central Florida’s arts and culture.

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Busting our Buttons with PRIDE

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on June 27, 2017



Warm congratulations to Pat Spears and Twisted Road Publications as It’s Not Like I Knew Her wins a Foreward INDIES Prize.

Much deserved and well done!

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Shy smile


About a week before she died, Mama looked at my husband, Brad, a Masters rower, who was wearing baby-blue short pants, and said, “He sure has pretty legs.” Then she shrugged her shoulders and said, with a smile, “When you’re my age, you get to say what’s on your mind.” It had never occurred to me until that moment that she had ever once, in almost 80 years, NOT said exactly what was on her mind.

Verbal restraint was not her gift, nor is it mine, nor is it her grand-daughter Rachel’s. (These nuts fall very close to the tree.) Mama’s gift was a generosity of spirit way too large for her tiny frame. If she had something, and you needed it, it was yours. That applied to her possessions (as long as you didn’t mind that she got most of them from the thrift store), but more importantly, it applied to her time and her home. Countless children found a bed, a warm meal, and a firm guiding hand over the years in that little house on the Trout River. And when her namesake, Aunt Elnita, was given three months to live, Mama threw open her arms and took Nene home with her to spend her last days in comfort, waited on hand and foot. In fact, Nene got so comfortable that she lived on for 15 years after that, but it didn’t faze Mama at all.

Her example of cherishing family is what led me to propose moving to Jacksonville to be closer to Mama in her last months. You know you’ve married a good man when he gulps hard, thinks about it for two seconds, and then puts the Orlando house he’s lived in for over thirty years on the market for rent, to go take care of his mother-in-law.

What an interesting mother-in-law (and mother) she was! Besides finding fashions at the afore-mentioned thrift stores that made her look like a million bucks, she loved to find old broken clocks and tinker with them until she had them ticking away again. And chiming. And cuckooing. If you ever spent any length of time in her house, you’d notice that she never worried too much about setting them all to the proper time. Consequently, her dozens of clocks buzzed, chirped, sang and chimed the hour just about every five minutes or so. What did she care? If she ever got annoyed with noise of any kind, she’d just take her hearing aids out and laugh at the rest of us, who had to cope with ears that worked well.

After Mama was widowed for the second time, and the house got a bit too quiet, she developed another hobby that I found fascinating. Suddenly, she spent her days cruising the side streets of Jacksonville in her little Honda station wagon, completely unable to pass a trash pile that had a piece of furniture on it, without stopping to execute a rescue. Three-legged tables, chairs with sprung seats, and dressers with warped drawers were all lovingly restored with parts from Walmart or Lowe’s, and then – Heaven only knows why – she painted everything blue and put them out at her own curb with little hand-painted signs that read, “FREE.” My phone would ring in the middle of a workday, and it would be Mama. “I covered that rocking chair seat with a piece of blue velour with little white kittens on it, and it wasn’t out there twenty minutes before somebody snatched it up!” she’d crow. She’d actually watch out the front window and time it, trying to beat her own record.

Velour kittens. Ceramic kittens. Real, live, hungry and thirsty kittens. According to Mama, there was nothing, nobody, and nowhere that couldn’t be improved with an infusion of kittens. There was a sign on her door that read, “This house is run for the comfort and convenience of the cats.” And she wasn’t joking! At her peak, our crazy cat lady owned 22 of them. When I, and other people who loved her, would gently try to suggest that 22 cats might be a bit excessive, her claws would come out. One day, she finally told me why. You see, my mother’s mother, to whom she was very close, was struck by a car and killed when Mama was only 14. Suddenly, as the eldest daughter, Mama was responsible for caring for two brothers, a sister, and a father who turned very mean when he drank. And he drank most of the time. Home became a sad, scary place, except for one bright spot – the corner basket where their mother cat slept with her litter of kittens. Comfort and joy were found in that corner, and Mama could never again resist a cat who wanted to cuddle.

Last Saturday, I took her one remaining indoor cat, Baby, for a cuddle at the inpatient hospice facility where Mama spent her final six days. She’d had a steady stream of visitors, both at home and at the hospice, from among her family and friends – many of you are right here in this room, saying goodbye today, and she loved you all dearly and appreciated your kindness. But it was only after that final cuddle with Baby that she was ready to say goodbye to all of us, and join her mother, father, brother, son, aunts, cousins, two husbands, and her Savior in that place where there is no more dementia, no more leukemia, no more hearing aids, and no more weakness or pain.

I love you, Mama, and I hope they allow cats and clocks in Heaven. And if they don’t, I hope they checked your pockets.

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Rachel’s Memories of Granny

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on June 24, 2017

Kissing Rachel


Your Scribbler has a daughter, Rachel Shannon Finch-Bates, who lives in Cincinnatti, Ohio, and has this to say about her Granny:

“I have many wonderful memories of Granny, but I’ll just mention a few here. One of my favorite memories is us playing in her back yard when I was a kid. I remember it having a magical, whimsical feel about it and I loved running around and letting my imagination run wild. I would pretend I was in Never Never Land and that I was playing with faeries or battling it out with Captain Hook.


Family holidays were the best at Granny’s house b/c she always made her special pink stuff. It was her shining moment when she would bring out that giant bowl of yummy goodness b/c nobody could make it quite like Granny. I remember watching Home Alone in the living room next to the Christmas tree, and it is still one of my favorite holiday movies to this day. She had the most amazing VHS collection I’ve ever seen.


I remember her giant white cat that took up the entire coffee table when he laid on it. I feel that one of my strongest connections with Granny is our love of animals. I am the lady who will stop traffic to let a family of ducks pass safely to the other side of the road, and I know Granny will be smiling down on me every time I do it. I remember her yelling at her dog, Scoobie, to get back in the house. This memory always makes me laugh because I know she loved him, but he was a naughty puppy.


The last day I spent with Granny is probably my favorite memory. We spent several hours together looking at old photos and she told me about our ancestors. We walked around her home looking at all the cool antiques she collected over the years, and what an amazing collection it was! I know I get my love of vintage things from her, and I will always feel her presence when I go into an antique store. I know she will be right there helping me pick out the coolest things!


Granny, please say hello to Grandpa Lundin, Grandpa Cunningham and Uncle Robbie for me. I know you are all with me every moment of every day, and I hope I make you proud.


I was not blessed with my mother’s gift of words, but I wrote a short poem for all of you.


I hear you when the mother bird sings, and when she teaches her young to use their wings.

I find your presence in the strength and calm of the sea, you inspire me with the courage to be free.

In the radiant glow of the wood-burning fire, it’s your resilience and passion I truly admire.

In the soft rustle of leaves under a shady tree, close to my spirit you will always be.


I love you.”

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