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Arts, Culture to be on Display During Hall of Fame, Annual Awards Ceremony

October 12, 2023 News

Six local people who have contributed to the arts and culture of Polk County, along with the winners of six annual awards, will be honored at the Polk Arts & Cultural Alliance (PACA) Hall of Fame Gala in October. 

“This year’s Hall of Fame inductees represent the diverse arts and cultural contributions made by Polk County citizens,” said Daryl Ward, executive director of PACA. “We have Cultural Champions. We have two who are already in national halls of fame (Nat Adderley and Bobby Braddock). Additionally, we have representation from different geographic locations in the county.” 

The Hall of Fame was created in 2014 “as a way to recognize the contributions of the many Polk Countians who have done such amazing things in the arts and cultural sectors,” Ward said. “It’s also important to showcase these lifetime achievements. It promotes our county as an arts and cultural destination.” 

Located within the Art & Culture Exhibit on the second floor of the Polk County History Center in Bartow, the Hall of Fame currently has eight members.  

Inductees

This year’s inductees – a larger class than normal to make up for time lost to COVID – are:  

  • Nat Adderley, Lakeland: The jazz great, who often worked with his brother, Cannonball Adderley, moved to Lakeland in the 1980s and was a founding member of Florida Southern College’s annual Child of the Sun Jazz Festival. He wrote “Work Song” and served as FSC’s Artist-In-Residence before passing away in 2000. 
  • Bobby Braddock, Lakeland: An Auburndale native, Braddock moved to Nashville, where he wrote country music classics that include “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”  
  • Miford Myhre, Lake Wales: The Lake Wales resident served as carillonneur at Bok Tower Gardens for 36 years, offering daily concerts until he retired in 2004. He founded the International Carillon Festival, the Music at Pinewood concert series and the Lake Wales Chorale, along with being a board member of the Lake Wales Arts Council and the Lake Wales Museum Commission. 
  • Rick Olivo, Lakeland: After moving to Polk County, Olivo founded Pied Pipers Children’s Theater (Lakeland Community Theatre) and co-founded Explorations V Children’s Museum (Florida Children’s Museum). He died in 2022. 

Two others being inducted are Cultural Champions:  

  • Clifton Lewis, Bartow: Lewis was the driving force behind saving the historic L.B. Brown House in Bartow from demolition. He formed the Neighborhood Improvement Corp. to develop Bartow neighborhoods and to champion the preservation of the historic home.  
  • Harriet Rust, Davenport: A Polk County native, Rust and her husband founded the Davenport Historical Society (DHS). The DHS then created the Quilts and Tea Festival that brought together the Davenport School of the Arts, many sewing organizations, local churches and visitors from Africa to participate in the artisan event. 

PACA solicited nominations from the public. An external committee then recommended six inductees, which were approved by PACA’s board of directors. “All of these inductees are fantastic ambassadors of Polk’s arts and cultural sector,” Ward said. 

Community Support

Bonnie Parker, a longtime supporter of the arts and senior vice president at Citizens Bank & Trust, said: “Recognizing those who have contributed to the arts community at an event such as the Hall of Fame gala is essential to not only bringing recognition to those dedicated and talent individuals, but also to assist in making the local public aware of just how much arts-focused activity we have here in Polk County. When I hear people comment that there is not much quality entertainment in around here, I immediately tell them about the wonderful productions at places like Theatre Winter Haven and the Lakeland Community Theatre, as well as the concerts they can attend at the Lake Wales Arts Center, or the Hollingsworth Winds at Branscomb Auditorium. The Lakeland Symphony is a very professional ensemble as well, and their concert featuring Renee Fleming had to be one of the best musical experiences to ever take place in Polk County. And the Polk Museum of Art has displayed famous artists that you would only expect to see exhibited in a large city. We have a lot more going on here than most people realize.” 

The Polk Arts & Culture Hall of Fame Gala, presented by CORE Wealth Advisers, will be held Oct. 17 at Bonnet Springs Park. Tickets, which range from $50 to $135, may be purchased at www.Polkarts.org. The event will feature a catered dinner, live music and local art. 

State of the Arts in Polk County

Ward, former principal at Harrison School for the Arts, is high on the state of the arts in Polk County. “There is a vibrant art and culture scene happening throughout the county. Whether it’s our numerous local museums and cultural centers or the myriad concerts, exhibits, performances and events, Polk has really rebounded well after the pandemic.”  

Having been in his role about a year, he’s excited about the work the organization is doing. “I feel that my background as an arts administrator (while at Harrison) and my strong passion and communication skills have helped move the organization forward so that we can create and support things like the brand-new Hall of Fame Gala.”  

Opportunities exist, he said. “The main challenge remains making sure our non-profit stays relevant as an arts organization. Our job is to advocate for, promote and support our local arts and cultural organizations. We need to do that by providing marketing and funding assistance to organizations AND to local artists.” 

Parker said having a strong arts community does more than attract visitors to attend concerts, plays and exhibits. “It also helps us attract higher-wage-earning families to move to Polk County. Sometimes we have professionals working in our own communities, but they live in the surrounding communities because they believe there are more opportunities there for activities such as symphonic concerts, opera performances and top-notch dramatic productions.” 

Recognizing Others

PACA is also bringing back annual awards to honor local organizations and individuals who “are advancing the arts and cultural community through dedicated service,” Ward said. “We will announce the winners at the Hall of Fame Gala.” Donations will be made to each winner’s organization. 

Like the Hall of Fame inductees, nominees were sought from the public. Those nominated should:  

  • Be working in Polk County. 
  • Be reflective of recent/current work that best reflects broad efforts to advance arts and cultural opportunities in Polk County. 

The categories are: 

  • Arts/Cultural Organization of the Year, which honors an arts and/or cultural organization for its work in their respective communities and recognizes outreach efforts that promote Polk as an arts and/or cultural destination. 
  • Arts/Cultural Philanthropist of the Year, presented to an organization or individual whose philanthropic support of arts and cultural programming has advanced the status of Polk County as an arts/cultural destination. 
  • Volunteer of the Year honors an arts/cultural volunteer for their work within a specific organization as well as work that assists multiple arts and/or cultural organizations. 
  • Arts/Cultural Educator of the Year recognizes a local arts or cultural educator for their work with students. 
  • Rising Star Award honors an individual who works to advance the arts/cultural community and expand its reputation beyond Polk’s borders. 
  • The Art for Good Award.  

Finalists can be found at https://polkarts.org/2023/09/get-tickets-to-the-polk-arts-culture-hall-of-fame-gala 

“We took nominations from the community, and quite frankly, all of the nominees are deserving,” Ward said. “The applications revealed just how much work is going on in our arts and cultural sector.” 


  

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