Hot Spot — the FCC Mascot

Hot Spot News — Fall 2017

Welcome to the fall edition of FCC’s newsletter! Designed to inform, involve, and communicate with our growing membership, this issue of Hot Spot News brings with it a major announcement which will not only impact the immediate future of the Firehouse Cultural Center, but also has the potential to alter Southshore in exciting ways not seen since we first opened in 2011.

We are thrilled to announce that the FCC is growing!

A fund raising campaign has been launched to purchase the 1600 sq. ft. building which sits on one-half acre of land adjoining our current property. The new building will be remodeled to accommodate an artist’s studio and additional workshop space. In addition, our own Phoenix Radio Station (WPHX-101.9) will continue to rise, finally getting a more satisfactory recording studio! The new property will allow for future FCC expansion, while immediately adding much needed parking space. Most exciting of all is that the FCC will be able to schedule more art programs and events on an extended, ongoing basis!

Expansion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Firehouse Expansion Ribbon Cutting 2017

On Monday, October 23 at 4:30 p.m. dignitaries including Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman and Representatives from Commissioner Stacy White and Congressman Vern Buchanan joined Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Arts Council Martine Collier, and CFO of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Lorrin Shepard, Tampa Museum of Art Director Michael Tomor, Hillsborough Community College SouthShore Campus President Allen Witt, Ph.D, FCC Executive Director Georgia Vahue and the FCC Board of Directors in a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception to celebrate our new acquisition.

So, yes, Friends of the Firehouse, we will be calling on you to help support this expansion. Our funding goal is $300,000 for the purchase of the property and an additional $50,000 for the remodeling. The great news is that we already have $75,000 in hand to match contributions! LET’S SEIZE THE MOMENT!!!!

How can you donate?

There are several ways to offer your gift: cash, check, or credit/debit card. The donation page also explains how to donate stock shares, should you so desire. Here at the Firehouse we are all seriously “fired up” about this move forward, and we hope you will be, too! We ask you to support the FCC Mission to offer quality programming to the community with a focus on the performing, visual, and literary arts, and education for all. We invite you to share the FCC Vision 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.

Positive, positive, positive!

Hot Spot News thinks the following email reveals much about the affection and enthusiasm generated by the Firehouse Cultural Center. Everyone who walks in the door—be they visitors from out of state, guest artists and entertainers, or local residents— falls in love with the FCC.

To: FCC Board and Committee Members
From: Janice Bayruns, FCC Board Member
Re: Culture, the Firehouse & WHY

Greetings Board and Committee Members of the Firehouse Cultural Center,

I am both excited and so humbled beyond words by the passion and perseverance each of you has exhibited in advancing our mission at the Firehouse Cultural Center. The acquisition of the new property will give us all the opportunity to see our visions of the Firehouse and culture in Ruskin and Southshore grow in a whole new direction.

During my interactions with many of you as a board and committee member, I found that each of us has at times felt the struggle with articulating exactly THE WHY. WHY are we so passionate about not only the existence of culture in our community, but the continued growth of this profoundly important component of our lives? WHY do we happily put hours of sweat and time into supporting the Firehouse Cultural Center and it’s mission?

This past year I attended my nephew’s graduation from a college in upstate New York called St. Lawrence University. One of the keynote speakers was Caroline Mastin Welsh, an art historian, curator, advocate of arts in the Adirondack area. Her eloquent speech on why we should support culture and arts moved me to no end and I sought a copy of her speech.

Today I share with you an edited excerpt from that speech that I hope will help you as we go out into our community and ask for support of the Firehouse and advancement of the arts and culture in Southshore.

“Why do the arts and culture matter? Imagine society without the humanizing influence of the arts and you will lose most of what is pleasurable in life. The value of arts and culture always starts with their intrinsic value to illuminate and enrich our inner lives.

“Life without the collective resources of our libraries, museums, theatres and galleries, or without the personal expression of literature, music and art, would be devoid of creative analysis about the past and creative responses to frame the present and dream of the future. Support of culture nourishes the creativity of artists and writers and preserves our historic and cultural heritage.

“Art and culture can be a means to achieve ends beyond the immediate intrinsic experience and value of the art itself. We know that arts and culture play a transformative role in promoting social and economic goals through community regeneration, attracting tourists, developing talent and innovation, improving health and wellbeing and contributing to the delivery of public services.

“The arts are a major catalyst for stimulating awareness, compassion and new thinking. Without them none of us will reach our full potential.”

[Edited – Caroline Mastin Welsh]

How was your summer? Ours was pretty fine, thank you!

Even though that nasty Irma did some damage to the roof, building overhang, and air conditioner, we lucked out with no flood damage. A very big thank-you to all of the staff who pitched in with the clean-up!

Things are generally a little quieter around the FCC during the hot summer months, but the Drawing Studio continued meeting with Bruce Marsh at the helm every Thursday evening. And, while The Pub takes a little breather in July and August, Summer Camp 2017 was wild and woolly.

The nine-week camp was funded in part by the Children’s Board Hillsborough and Hillsborough County. This year ninety-six campers participated with half receiving scholarships to attend. This year’s camp revolved around an innovative movement known as STEAM.

Championed by the Rhode Island School of Design, the program couples varying aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math in a summer camp setting. In this fun environment, learning happens at the FCC!

Campers kept journals to encourage literacy and reading, were introduced to robotics and programming, and, at the end of each week, they presented a performance or “show-off” for family and friends.


“My nephews love your summer camp and appreciate every moment they spend there.”

“Very impressed…my daughter absolutely thrives at musical theater. The instructors are a treasure. She begged to come back.”


Free upcoming events at FCC

Our calendar is full! You can find EVERYTHING going on at the Firehouse—programs, workshops, performing arts, lectures, music, and more—on our website. There will be events of all types for the remainder of 2017 and some of them are FREE! You can check the website for more information about these presentations.

Space is limited! Register online or call 813-645-7651 to reserve now!

Musical Discovery Lecture Series

2nd Tuesday November 2017 – May 2018, 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
This FREE Straz Center Arts Education Series for adults will explore music written for the symphony orchestra; music from cultures around the world; and popular music genres developed in the U.S. from the early 20th Century.

Opera Tampa

November 18, 2:00 p.m.
A FREE mini-performance and Q&A for all ages in partnership with the Straz Center.

Family Holiday Concert with Santa

December 2, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
A celebration featuring choruses from South County schools with Marines on hand to collect Toys for Tots.

Vivien Morgan: How Videography Changed Journalism

December 14, 7:00 p.m.
Join BBC TV News video-journalist Vivien Morgan on the history of broadcast media. This is a FREE Inside Journalism event.

Inside Journalism: PolitifactIf you missed the October Inside Journalism Politifact Panel, don’t miss this December Inside Journalism event. This photo shows the October event with L-R: Ernest Hooper, Tampa Bay Times; Kelli Burns, Mass Communications USF; Rob Lorei, WEDU; Joshua Gillin, Politifact, Tampa Bay Times.

The Greatest Ever 4th Annual BBQ & Blues Fundraiser!

If you missed this Fourth Annual bash held on October 7th, you missed a heck of a good time! The live music with Rick Hatfield and Kenny Carlyle was hot, and the feast from Buttman BBQ was smokin’ good. A big round of applause goes to Ann Hathaway for organizing this bash and to all who helped out.


DON’T FORGET our most important link, the link that will link you to all links, the MOTHER of all links is this one: firehouseculturalcenter.org. It is here that you will find EVERYTHING happening at the Firehouse between now and December. There are links to all of the programs, all of the Pub events, information on room rentals, the Figure Drawing Group, how to become a member, how to volunteer, and much more.


Our Staff

Georgia Vahue, Executive Director
Frances Hereford, Volunteer and Facility Coordinator
Beth Ann Stein, Rental & Events Coordinator
Rudy Ortiz, Facility Tech & Maintenance