With October comes thoughts of fall, holidays, and cooler weather – but it’s also time to celebrate the rich arts and cultural heritage of our communities. October is National Arts and Humanities Month as designated by Americans for the Arts.

Created in 1993, the month was set aside to focus on the importance of supporting and celebrating arts and culture across the country. Locally, there are many ways to both experience and participate in arts and culture-related activities. Below are just a few opportunities for Polk residents.

Live Performances

Concerts and live theatrical performances are great ways to not only support local arts organizations, but also to experience arts and culture. The Lakeland Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 23-24 season with a concert on Oct. 14 called “Hungarian Nights.” The program includes works by Brahms, Liszt, and Kodaly.

If theatre is your vibe, then check out the family-friendly productions of Theatre Winter Haven’s, Matilda The Musical or Lakeland Community Theatre’s children’s show, Honk! Jr. And if you want to hear some “old school” music, then check out the two concerts at the R.P. Funding Center in October: The Police’s Synchronicity and Franki Valli’s, “Oh What A Night.”

Another wonderful concert opportunity is Florida Southern College’s “Child of the Sun Night of Music – a Symphony and Jazz Ensemble Concert” on Oct. 12. In this concert, the FSC symphony and jazz bands will offer architecturally arranged masterpieces to encourage concert-goers to notice the colors, textures, and shapes of the sounds around them, just as they would look around and see those inspirational features on a building.

See The Art, Be The Art

We’re fortunate that Polk County has no shortage of wonderful arts and cultural exhibits and art shows. One that kicks off early in the month is The Bohrer Gallery’s “4 Squared Makers” show at the Mulberry Cultural Center. This show features 40 different artists who’ve created works using four blocks of 4-inch square wood. It presents a variety of creative treatments on the theme of global diversity. 

If you’re interested in cultural heritage exhibits, be sure to visit the Polk History Center and see their newest exhibit, “Delta Sigma Theta: 110 Years of Social Action.” This exhibit explores the role of Black women at Washington D.C.’s Howard University in marching for suffrage and the pursuit of equality.

Another great art exhibit that focuses on Florida-specific artists is the “Floridian Fire” exhibit at the Lake Wales Arts Center. This exhibit is a captivating showcase that celebrates the diversity and virtuosity of ceramics from Florida-based artists.  

Make Your Own Art

National Arts and Humanities Month is also a fantastic time to learn how to create your own art. One great way to do that is to consider joining local art organizations. The Bartow Art Guild and the Lakeland Arts Association are both member-focused groups that work to provide art instruction and exhibit opportunities for their constituents. In fact, the Lakeland Art Association is bringing in watercolor expert Tony Couch to teach a three-day workshop – perfect for beginners and experienced painters alike.

The Polk Museum of Art also offers workshops and classes – check out Florida artist, Kate Carney’s workshop Pretty as Peacock set for Oct. 21 at the museum. 

And if truly celebrating local arts and culture is on your October agenda, then consider joining the Polk Arts & Cultural Alliance at their inaugural Polk Arts & Culture Hall of Fame Gala. This Oct. 17 event will feature the annual arts and culture awards – winners in six categories will receive donations given to their respective arts and cultural organization. The highlight of the event, however, is the induction of six new members to the Polk Arts and Culture Hall of Fame:

Though October is often a busy month as we prepare for the upcoming holiday seasons, it’s still a great time to recognize our arts and cultural heritage via the many opportunities to see, hear, and experience local arts and culture. Get out and see why Polk County is the heART of Central Florida!

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