Did you know, in the heart of our city, just off of I4, on Lake Ivanhoe are the offices and several classrooms for people of all ages and a Black Box Theater inside the “Drive Thru Church”? The Central Florida Community Arts organization is a one-of-a-kind performing arts organization.
With a chorus of about 300 volunteers and an orchestra of about 150, classes for all ages in acting, voice and dance, this organization brings so much to our community with ticket prices generally starting from $10 or $15.
“I created this organization to give the talented people of Central Florida a safe, welcoming and inclusive home to connect, serve and perform in Orlando,” founder and executive director Joshua Vickery shared in the national Chorus America Magazine. “We believe [the arts are] essential to being a healthy and whole person. Some of the most beautiful parts of our organization are serving aging adults, people with physical and cognitive abilities and other marginalized and sometimes forgotten groups.”
Vickery and all the CFCArts staff and supporters are all advocates for the arts in local, state and even national forums. Vickery has testified about “facts, stories and accountability in both Tallahassee and Washington DC.”
“Advocacy involves leadership and staff at all levels,” Vickery said. “And we must be articulate about our mission, vision, values testimonies and impact.”
For Vickery, the arts have helped heal in times of need. They played a significant role after the shooting at Pulse nightclub.
“I am really honored to share about how the arts community came together to produce ‘Beautiful’ just twelve days after the Pulse Tragedy,” he said. “The arts brought great peace and glimpses of healing to so many during that time.”
An interview with Donald Rupp, Director of CFCArts Theater
Donald, why were you recently in New York City?
I was in New York City for an orientation for the New York Music Festival.
How exciting that your play was accepted. What was the competition about?
The New York Musical Festival is a pretty prestigious festival for new musicals. About 150 writers from around the world submit their shows, and, this year, they only selected 10 to come and be part of the festival this summer in New York City. My production, “Flying Lessons,” will be part of the festival in an off-Broadway theater the week of July 22 to July 28.
Why is it called ‘Flying Lessons’?
The show was written for young audiences and centers around a young Latina girl who has been given an assignment to study a historical figure and decide what made them great. She decides to study Amelia Earhart and Fredrick Douglass. Isabella is learning from these two figures what it takes to become a ‘great’ human being.
What was the inspiration for the story, and who collaborated with you?
We were asked to produce a theatrical piece for eighth-grade students. I could not find a good production that really tackled some of the topics that they study in school, so I wrote one myself. I began writing music with Cesar de la Rosa and Jason Bailey, and Josh Ceballos joined in the second year of the project.
Maybe just a quick history of the Black Box?
I started the CFCArts Theater Black Box just four years ago. I toured the building and told [Vickery] that I thought we could make a theater out of that space if he’d let me. We are now about to start our fifth season.
Here are just a few of CFCArts’ recent activities and a “Spectacle!” still to come:
The CFCArts Orchestra held a “Spring Swing” Jazz concert.
“Into The Woods” auditions were held April 29 and 30.
The orchestra also played for the Orlando Ballet’s production of “Tales of the Mad Hatter” April 26-28. The music was composed by the Ballet’s Artist in Residence Arcadian Broad.
May 2 CFCArts Staff Cabaret
May 9-10 “SPECTACLE!” with the choir, orchestra and dance company
June 7-8 CFCArts Children and Youth Arts presents “Secret Garden”
Check out CFCArts on Instagram and Facebook or at cfcarts.com.