By Kathy L. Collins
On Wednesday, September 25, founders, supporters, elected officials and invited guests gathered in the SouthShore to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony which officially opened the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. Georgia Vahue, the first Executive Director of the Firehouse Cultural Center presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Hillsborough County Commissioner, Sandy Murman said, “I am heartened by the fact that the county staff and the residents of the SouthShore came together to make this cultural center a reality. It will be a great focal point for the community,” and Murman added, “everything will happen here.”
Chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission, Ken Hagan said, “I am a big believer in the role of the arts. This cultural center will add to the vitality of the community and will attract business which will lead to development.” Hagan added, “This will become a beacon in the SouthShore community.”
The Firehouse Cultural Center sits on land that was first donated to Hillsborough County by the Ruskin Commongood Society, which founded Ruskin in 1908. In 2010, the Ruskin Community Development Foundation went to the Hillsborough County Commission and sought help in using and renovating an old firehouse.
Through the county’s help and the support of the community, the old firehouse has been transformed into a five thousand square foot building that features a Black Box Theatre and flexible studio/classrooms for inside and outside use.
Even before the Firehouse Cultural Center was officially opened, students from Ruskin Elementary School were coming to it for field trips. Now, the second phase of the project will include the building of a bridge which will provide easier access for the students to come to the center.
The Firehouse Cultural Center is a partner in the Arts in Education Program with the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County School Systems to be a venue for school field trips. In addition, it will offer a whole host of programs such as concerts, live music, theatre, artists in residence programs, workshops and much more.
The Firehouse Cultural Center is located at 101 N. 1st Ave. in Ruskin. For a complete schedule of upcoming events, please visit www.firehouseculturalcenter.org or call 645-7651.