A quarterly newsletter, designed to inform, involve, and communicate with the Firehouse Cultural Center’s growing membership.
In the future we will ask our readers to share their own thoughts and visions for the Firehouse. We will cheer our performing and visual artists, our writers, and all seekers and lovers of the arts. We will share their successes, publicize their shows and readings. We will nourish harmony and creativity within our local arts community and provide, we hope, an inclusive, personal setting for all SouthShore artists and Firehouse members.
Today, we invite you to learn more about us.
Say “Hello” to the FCC Board of Directors
As a non-profit organization, the FCC is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of South Hillsborough County residents. Our Board Members are not only willing to oversee the activities of the FCC, but they also are willing to roll up their sleeves and help with the practical work. They have strong ties to the community and share passion and commitment to the FCC Mission which is to offer quality programming to the community with a focus on the performing, visual, and literary arts, and education for all. They are also deeply aware of the FCC Vision which is to provide a lively, multi-use, cultural and educational facility that will be a vital catalyst and resource contributing to the quality of life for all in our diverse community and region.
In their own words, meet our Members of the Board:
Bruce Marsh, President: I’m a painter and a teacher, and have more years of experience in both than I usually own up to. My paintings almost always involve Florida, particularly our skies, lakes, bays and rivers. My paintings are made to be very convincing in terms of the light, the color and the space. I also try to make them hold up to extended viewing, and to point to some issues of perception. In my next life I hope to be either a photographer with an 11″ x 14″ antique view camera, or be adept in programming.
Janice Bayruns, Acting Vice-President of the Board: I am the owner of FirstLight HomeCare and a lifelong lover of the arts. As a 20-year resident of the SouthShore area, I am passionate about everything outdoors, including fishing, diving, and kayaking.
Tom Grimm (Past President): I am a retired executive from Westinghouse Electric, a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator, and a real estate broker and consultant. Currently I’m an Adjunct Professor teaching American Government and World Politics at Hillsborough Community College. In addition to the FCC, I also serve on the Board of the Mary Martha House and am a member of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce. My personal goal is to continue to make Ruskin and SouthShore shine and the Firehouse certainly helps do that. Thanks to Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman’s efforts, the SouthShore area is no longer neglected. We are becoming the place to be!
Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman (Ex officio): I am humbled to be a part of the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. We are making it our mission to uncover the arts and culture that have always been, and will continue to be, the roots of this community in South Hillsborough County.
Patti Beckett: My goal is to make the Firehouse a household word!
Laurie Burhop: I was an Art Educator for most of my career in a Fine Arts Magnet School in Evanston, IL. I just retired as Art Director at SouthShore Regional Library. The SouthShore area really needs a cultural base and the FCC certainly fits the bill. I look forward to growing and involving more people interested in the arts in the SouthShore area.
Dolores Coe: I am Curator of USF’s Art in Health Programs, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the Institute for Research in Art. As an artist and educator I have a special passion for community-based arts and eduction initiatives for all.
Tom Cook: I am the Director at Integra Management Consultants, and have a personal goal to make the FCC a well-known commodity in our community.
Ann Hathaway: I have been a resident of Apollo Beach since 2001, and I am the Account Manager for Pearson Capital, Inc. For twelve years I have been the Coordinator of the Pearson/ SouthShore Toys for Tots Campaign, the largest collection event in Hillsborough County. I also volunteer at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association Charter School in Wimauma, FL. Being a part of the FCC indulges my love of the performing and visual arts and giving back to the community.
Jeff Knauff: Ruskin is incredibly fortunate to have a facility and organization like the FCC dedicated to the Arts, Community and Culture. With my background in the Performing and Recording Arts, I’m honored to be able to serve on the Board.
Ann Mohin: I am a playwright, a novelist, and a former sheep farmer from upstate New York with years of editing experience acquired in Washington D.C. As a new member of the Board I am delighted to contribute to the continued growth of the FCC and am inspired by the community-minded spirit and creative heart of this dynamic organization.
Dr. Allen Witt: In my career, I have served on dozens of civic and corporate boards. Few of these have been as exciting as the Firehouse Cultural Center. This is truly a grassroots effort to fill a cultural need in our community. In an era of low public budgets, the FCC makes the most of every dollar. From children’s camps to stellar entertainment to local radio, the FCC strives to meet the real needs of our citizens. The SouthShore area is rapidly growing from six communities into a single metropolitan area. The FCC reaches across all of our communities and unites us for the common good of our area. I am proud to be associated with this great community resource.
Our outstanding Board of Directors also includes Sandy Council, Ruskin Community Development Foundation President , Laurie Kepler, Executive Director of Mary & Martha House, Bob Mohr, Sun City Center Attorney, Melanie Rimes, Executive Director SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, and Michael Parker, Artist.
Meet our Staff
Georgia Vahue, Executive Director
Frances Hereford, Volunteer & Facility Coordinator
Beth Ann Stein, Marketing & Operations Coordinator
Rudy Ortiz, Facility Tech & Maintenance
About our Volunteers
We currently have 18 adult volunteers as well as several college students who work for community service hours toward college credit. It’s not too much of a stretch to say they find fun and friends while being part of something very, very essential to the Firehouse! Volunteers make all the difference to small non-profit organizations like us. We need you. Our hope is that every volunteer gets more from the experience than they give. The more you volunteer your time, the better the Firehouse will be. It’s righteous and it’s fun!
Volunteers make it happen!
Here are some opportunities:
- Help out at live PUB Performances by taking tickets or assisting at the snack and beverage bar.
- Assist teachers and/or students at our many Workshops or Classes.
- Direct, assist, and monitor the students who attend our Educational Field Trips.
- Attend and help out at our Free Family Events.
- All of our special events need you to help us out— for example maybe to set up BBQ & Blues day, or being on hand during Summer Camps, or even assisting at our annual Family Holiday Concert when Santa and the Marine Corp Band arrive to delight kids of all ages.
- There’s always something that needs to be done in the FCC office—a couple hours every once in a while would be eagerly welcomed—help get the word out on shows and exhibits, for example.
- Could you help put up our posters?
- Help artists hang or transport exhibits.
- Any building skills to offer?
- Check out our Phoenix Radio Station WPHX 101.9 for volunteer opportunities.
- Are you an artist, musician, or crafter willing to teach and/or demonstrate your technique?
- Underwrite a PUB performance, perhaps?
- Last, but not least, consider joining an FCC committee. The Programming, Fundraising, and Marketing Committees could all use your fresh ideas!
Any ideas we missed?
Check out the Volunteer page.
So wait—what, exactly, is the PUB?
Here are a few quotes from three “first timers” who attended the Phil Provenzano & the Jazz Experience at the Pub on May 6, 2017:
“Wow. Enlightening that talent of such high caliber is right here in Ruskin!”
— George Mitchell
— Gabriel Mbulo
Tech+Art Classes for Girls and Women
Last year’s Instructors Anat Pollack, Art Professor and Coordinator of Digital Video/ Electronic Arts at USF, Lynne Hansen, Filmmaker/Screenwriter, Patricia Yontz, Artist/Educator, Sheryl Haler, Film Faculty at Ringling College of Art and Design, Selina Roman, Artist/ Photographer, Maria DelCastillo and Rebecca Sexton Larson all taught FREE tech+art classes. So what is tech+art all about? These classes for girls and women approach the seemingly unimaginative world of technology from an artistically creative point of view. They were so popular when offered in 2016 that we are doing it again in this Fall 2017. The two separate four-week workshops—one for Girls (ages 11-14) and one for Women (ages 15 and up)—will be coordinated by two amazing and highly renowned Ruskin artists, Dolores Coe and Dee Hood. Tech +art is precisely the kind of unique program that makes the FCC such an invaluable asset to SouthShore residents. Check the tech+art page for complete information.
Patel/Straz Partnership: Theatre & Improv Classes
The Patel/Straz/Firehouse Partnership is one more reason to stand up and applaud! The Straz Center works with partner organizations to provide exceptional educational outreach experiences and has selected the Firehouse as one of the partners. It is a rigorous selection process, but we have been able to bring exceptional talent to our Firehouse stage thanks to our Patel/Straz Partnership. One of many examples—Spanish guitarist extraordinaire Pablo Sainz-Villegas wowed us in February with a FREE concert and a wonderful discussion about his music. OK— here’s another example: On May 23, the last session of the FREE Patel/Straz-sponsored, amazing, not one, not two, but SEVEN-week Theatre & Improv Class will be held. This to be followed immediately at 5:00 p.m. with a Family Showcase where our drama students will take to the stage to show to share their work. Where else can you find programs like this but at the Firehouse Cultural Center? Check our website to find future Patel/Straz programs, all presented FREE of charge!
Introduction to Drawing Class
Bruce Marsh, co-founder and President of the FCC, is once again teaching Introduction to Drawing for beginning and experienced students. This class covers basic pencil and charcoal drawing with an emphasis on observation. You’re bound to learn something from an artist who says, “If it’s really successful, my work reminds people of the whole process of looking.” Bruce has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions, including the Allyn Gallup Gallery in Sarasota, the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and the Clayton Galleries.
Painting with Watercolors Class
Barry Goodman’s class Painting With Watercolors, is another outstanding learning opportunity. Barry’s background is in printmaking, painting and watercolors. He studied at the London School of Printing and his work has been exhibited in public and private collections across the UK as well as The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Thursday Evening Figure Drawing Group
If you are looking for a quiet place to sit and focus on your own work while benefitting from the companionship of others, consider joining the on-going Figure Drawing Group. This is not a formal drawing class, but a weekly, open session—a creative space where Bruce Marsh shares his evening with anyone who wants to unpack their materials and set up an easel. Where else can you find a studio, a live model, a famous artist who will discuss your work with you AND the camaraderie of like-minded souls—all for $10!
Growing Healthy Gardens
Another highly popular program we will continue in 2017 is our series of hands-on gardening classes at the FCC grounds in Ruskin. Volunteer Christine Peet designed these classes for children from 7 to 18 years of age. Food sustainability, balanced nutrition, and gardening are approached in a way that is fun, educational and healthy for all. The children participate in planning their own gardens, learning about soil, planting, harvesting and preparation of good, clean food. Students grow right along with the fruits and vegetables that they themselves have planted, and have fun doing it!
Pop-up Art Program: Exhibitions and Gallery Talks
You just never know what’s going to “pop-up”! In September 2016 we brought you the Cuban Arts Show and Sale which featured original artwork from Cuban galleries and studios. The greatest Cuban restaurant in Ruskin—The Ybor Grille—provided Cuban sandwiches and salads, cafe con leche, Cuba libras and mojitos. The food was delicious; the show was outstanding! Proceeds went to scholarships that enabled kids to attend a week of summer camp at the FCC. Look for another Pop-Up Art show in October 2017!
FCC Radio? Yes!
The Phoenix Radio Station WPHX-101.9 On Your Dial
If you haven’t tuned in yet, you’re missing some seriously entertaining and educational local radio. WPHX is a link to the community and beyond, providing a variety of arts, music, education and information programming the connect people to each other. On air since 2015, this station is continually evolving and we are excited to announce that programming will soon include LIVE broadcasts of some of our local high school football games! The Phoenix rises!
About our Annual Fundraising Gala
Each year the FCC holds a fund-raising Gala to celebrate our growing membership and our continuing presence as a vibrant SouthShore cultural center. The 2017 Spurs and Bling Gala was held on March 4 under a stunning starlit sky at the Diehl Farms and Ranch Estate in Wimauma. Hosted by Ora and Frank Diehl on their 1600-acre tomato farm, the elegant, Western-themed event was attended by about 250 guests. Not only was the dining superb, but there was a lively rodeo demonstration by Diehl Farms’ cowboys, a local horseback square-dancing group, a silent auction, and fireworks, too! All Gala proceeds go to FCC programs and scholarships—what a win-win night!
The Brenda Knowles “Inside Journalism” Series
But the Firehouse Cultural Center is not only about the visual arts, the performing arts, gardening, or classes. Nope. We’re also about timely and serious issues of the day. The Brenda Knowles “Inside Journalism” Series aims to de-mystify journalism in all of its forms through presenting panel discussions on specific topics with professionals in the field. The first of the series, Women in Print, was offered in 2016, followed last March by The Future of the American Press. Rob Lorei, WMNF News Director, Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times, and Emily Topper, Plant City Observer, discussed the press and politics today and engaged the audience in a lively Q&A session. Check our website regularly so you won’t miss our next FREE Inside Journalism discussion in October.
Until the next issue of The Hot Spot News, remember to check our website often for new programs and events. We urge you to consider becoming a FCC member and/or volunteer. Please get to know us better—we’re sure you will agree that the Firehouse Cultural Center is one of SouthShore’s many precious gems!
In the words of our Executive Director, Georgia Vahue:
“We are on FIRE!!!”