By: Christina Wood Contributing Writer
The Milagro Center in Delray Beach is one of eight nonprofit cultural arts organizations in Palm Beach County that have received funding through the PNC Foundation’s Arts Alive program, a multi-year initiative aimed at increasing access to the arts through new and innovative activities for children.
“One of the key ingredients of our program is cultural arts experiences,” says Barbara Stark president and CEO of the Milagro Center, which helps underserved children succeed in school and in life. “By providing [children] with exposure to art, dance, music and theater, it builds confidence and an indestructible sense of self-worth. Once a child has that, they can conquer the world.”
Stark and her team submitted a proposal to the Arts Alive program for an engaging project they called “Take the Show on the Road.” Their comprehensive plan called for the construction of a mobile stage that could be used for a wide range of pop-up performances showcasing the talents of the children the center serves.
“It was such a good fit for the purpose of this grant. PNC is all about providing additional cultural arts experience to people who have limited access, to giving underserved kids the opportunity to explore their creativity,” Stark says. “So, we wrote it and crossed our fingers.”
The project was, indeed, a good fit. The Milagro Center received a $20,000 grant that will allow them to make their plan a reality. Stark says she expects the stage to be ready to hit the road by February.
“The stage is going to have electrical, lighting, sound walls and it’s going to be on wheels so that we can hitch it to our teen center van and take it to community parks, to libraries, to community centers, to green markets, to retirement communities – to all kinds of community facilities – and our kids and teens can perform,” Stark says, her excitement about the project evident.
“In the past, it’s been very difficult and costly to try to secure a venue to perform at. Here we have our own.”
In addition to construction of the stage, the grant will help with marketing for the performances, performing arts teachers and even a little bit of costuming. The children will create their own sets.
“We recognize that quality arts programming builds stronger, more vibrant communities, which ultimately helps drive business and economic development,” Cressman Bronson, PNC regional president for Florida East, said in a statement. “Through PNC Arts Alive, some of the region’s best visual and performing arts groups showcase their passion and talent, all while helping the public experience the arts in fun and thought-provoking ways.”
PNC worked with the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County to develop the Arts Alive initiative, which awarded a total of $125,000 in the form of grants and sponsorships this year. The winners – area nonprofits, large and small – represent a range of disciplines, audiences and participatory experiences.
“The PNC Arts Alive program adds greatly to the region’s ongoing commitment to expand our rich cultural heritage to reach new audiences and nurture emerging talent in our community,” Rena Blades, CEO of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, said in a statement.
This year’s Arts Alive funding will allow underserved children to work with professional artists at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach, attend free Miami City Ballet performances and view an exhibit on sea life at Mounts Botanical Garden created using marine debris collected from our beaches.
The Palm Beach Symphony received funding that will allow 4,000 students to experience the enchantment and rigor of classical music in hopes of developing critical thinking skills. The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach will use the funding it received to host a Black Arts Festival on Feb. 24, 2018, featuring local black artists, children’s activities and entertainment, among other activities.
Digital Vibez and the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach also received Arts Alive funding.