By John Hayden
After a year of dark theaters the marquee lights are turning back on and the local arts scene is returning stronger than ever thanks to the work and passion of groups like Funding Art Broward (FAB). The organization is a non-profit, volunteer-based group of arts ambassadors. The money they take in from dues and corporate sponsorships is given back in grants to local performance troupes. Even in a year when things were tough all over, FAB managed to give out more than $276,000 and created their Education Grant dedicated to art appreciation and development for elementary and high school students.
Ed Hashek, FAB’s President, told OutClique the work was needed more than ever. “The arts were really hit.” Usually the money is earmarked to help groups and theaters bring performances to life. This past year the grants were a lifeline for survival. “We immediately went to our grantees and said your grants are there for you to use however you need them. They are for your sustainability.”
FAB is funded in part by its dues-paying members and is a very social group, and keeping that fellowship intact was key to making 2020-2021 a successful year. “We had a steep learning curve. How do you make [virtual events] informative? How do you make them exciting?” FAB’s one employee became a producer. From learning how to create engaging content for a discerning arts-loving crowd to maximizing platforms like Zoom, FAB kept its community together. Now that in-person gatherings are back, Ed says social events will include very cool events. “For me it’s enjoying the experience. We’re excited because we’re gonna have some first-hand views of the Parker Playhouse in the fall as one of our social events for FAB. Going to any performance there is just a joy.”
Like many of us, Ed moved here from “up north.” “We knew about sun and fun, restaurants, and going to bars. That’s what we knew.” Discovering the arts scene through FAB helped him make South Florida home. “Not having a real extensive friendship network, meeting members of FAB has been great. What I love about the organization is the people I’ve met. There are some incredible, passionate people that I’ve met from FAB.”
There are many well-known and well-publicized venues like Broward Center for the Performing Arts, but there are plenty of smaller stages like Island City Stage and groups like Brazillian Voices and The Girl Choir of South Florida. “There are so many organizations that exist here in the county. Who knew there were that many in Broward County?” Ed also serves as President of Island City Stage and loves that it’s become an important part of Wilton Manors and says there is so much to love in the Wilton area. “South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble is a great organization. Sometimes it wells you up because volunteers support LGBT students in high school performing together.”
Not all the grants go to Broward groups and theaters. Some organizations like Florida Grand Opera and others from Miami-Dade also get help from FAB. “What we fund are performances in Broward. We consider them vital to the arts scene in Broward County.”
Since starting in 2003 FAB has given nearly four million dollars in grants. Ed has advice for anyone looking to support local artists. “Consider joining FAB. It’s one very direct way because most of our members are very active.” You can learn more about FAB’s work and how to join by going to their website at FundingArtsBroward.org.
Original article from OutClique Magazine, July 2021