By Kathy L. Collins

While the Mid Atlantic region, including New York City, was being walloped by a blizzard, New York based director Travis Greisler, and Off-Broadway choreographer Misha Shields, were in Riverview putting together the Winthrop Arts Community Launch last month at the Winthrop Barn Theatre. It was a spectacular show, the likes of which have never been seen before in the Brandon area.

Despite the chilly weather here, hundreds of residents turned out to see Greisler and Shields, along with Broadway actress and homegrown talent Dan’yelle Williamson, dancers from the Brandon Ballet, Tampa Modern Dance Company and Kim Hall’s School of Dance, Winthrop Town Artist Bryant Martinez, and aerialist Kayla Nordbye from Banyan Aerial Arts.

Because Winthrop Arts will be a different kind of arts organization, residents had the opportunity to paint sculptures including live models. They were treated to a welding demonstration by Sean Singleton. Children could work on ceramics with artist Neil Leonard. Everyone had the chance to tour the Arts Factory and see the refurbished Airstream RVs which will soon house the Airstream Market. The fantastic evening ended with a dance party complete with a parachute that was last used in the Off-Broadway show, The Orion Experience.

Katharine Sullivan-Dawes, the director of everything for Winthrop Arts, said, “As this was our first official event as a non-profit arts organization, we wanted to create something out of the box for the community to enjoy.”

Kay Sullivan, president of the Winthrop Arts Board of Visionaries, added, “I think we were able to create a one of a kind event, and the 450 plus guests jumped on board, and we were thrilled with all of the support.”

Prior to Saturday’s Launch Party, Winthrop Arts took advantage of the fact that Greisler and Shields were in town and held master classes with each to the delight of residents who attended.

Next up for Winthrop Arts is the 8th Annual Winthrop Arts Festival on Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in Winthrop Commons at Winthrop Town Centre in Riverview. There is still time for artists to apply; the deadline has been extended to Sunday, February 14. Visit

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