Arts Incubator Coming to Winter Haven

A new arts incubator is coming to downtown Winter Haven through a partnership with four Chamber members: Polk State College, Polk Museum of Art, Six/Ten LLC and the Arts Ensemble Education Foundation.

Official Press Release: 

Arts Incubator: New Arts Ensemble Outer Space Gallery Opening Soon

Winter Haven, Fla. — The Arts Ensemble Education Foundation is bringing a new arts center to downtown Winter Haven. The Outer Space Gallery, an arts incubator, is a partnership between artists and local businesses, nonprofits and government to bring a new form of art to the area. The project will open in late May/early June.

Local developer Six/Ten LLC worked with the Arts Ensemble to make space available in a building downtown for the project, which will be located at 230 Avenue C S.W. The Polk Museum of Art has also partnered to identify and feature local artists in exhibitions, provide opportunities for Polk State College students to learn about organizing and hanging exhibitions, and provide learning opportunities when the Museum has visiting guest artists.

An arts incubator is a space for artist residencies, arts education, community-based arts projects as well as exhibitions, performances, and talks. The Outer Space Gallery will serve as a fine arts gallery for the community and a place for artists to display their work. The space will offer three very specific purposes in the community: Gallery, Working Studio and Professional Meeting Space for downtown agencies in need of a creative place to think. It will also be open to the public during the day for art viewings.

“We started developing this concept for downtown Winter Haven about a year and half ago, discussing the best possible projects. Thanks to Six/Ten, we are finally able to move forward with our vision,” said Jane Waters Thomas, Executive Director of the Arts Ensemble. “Our goal is to create a completely engageable art experience for Winter Haven.”

Polk State College has also partnered with this project to create an internship program to develop young artists. Students from the college’s art department who participate will receive the full experience of the business of art, including what it takes to develop and curate a show.

The Arts Ensemble is a community-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire interest and maximum participation in the arts in Polk County and the surrounding region. The program became an arts incubator in 2006 and the Outer Space Gallery will be the newest division of these efforts.

“While my work is often in areas of our community in need of revitalization, it is there that I find those that most need the arts,” said Thomas. “Through our wonderful partners at local colleges and universities we are able to mentor, love and teach these young people the importance of taking their skills to the next level. Outer Space will make possible mentorship and programming that supports these initiatives.”

Thomas added that the Arts Ensemble will continue to be an organization that supports future entrepreneurs, non-governmental organizations, municipalities and artists by helping them to enter the creative industries sector. “We look forward to working with membership-based art organizations and affiliate nonprofit arts agencies throughout our community as we develop programs within the arts incubator,” said Thomas.

The mission of the Polk Museum of Art is to enhance the lives of its varied communities by bringing people and art together. One of the Museum’s strategic goals is to broaden their reach by forging strategic partnerships.

Polk Museum of Art Executive Director Claire Orologas had long been looking for a way to partner with the Arts Ensemble and Thomas, and believes the Outer Space Gallery will provide the perfect framework for a partnership to finally take shape. The museum has been increasing its presence on the east side of Polk County including a summer art camp in Winter Haven, an exhibition currently at the Polk State College Lake Wales Art Center, and family programs at the libraries throughout the county. Additionally, the museum organizes the Florida Outdoor Sculpture Competition (FLOSC) every year in partnership with the City of Winter Haven.

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