By Kathy L. Collins

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has announced that nearly $65,000 in grants was given to organizations that focus on increasing accessibility to the arts and culture. Several organizations in the South Shore area are lucky recipients of the funds. This will allow for greater accessibility to the arts and culture in south Hillsborough County.

The grants range from community theatre groups and orchestras to arts councils. The organizations have deep roots in the community, and they will provide valuable programs and cultural connections for children and parents.

The Straz Center received a significant grant for its Arts Education Partnership Program. This makes art available to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Straz Center partners with organizations such as the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin and the RCMA Leadership Academy in Wimauma.

Heather Hanson and Mark Haggett from the RCMA Wimauma Academy and RCMA Leadership Academy said, “Offering arts education to our students is critical to their educational and emotional growth.” Many grants target just elementary students. However, this program is for students in middle school.

The South Shore Arts Council received a grant in the amount of $3,725 for its High School Art Exhibition. “South Shore area schools can be overlooked in certain programming aspects, but this exhibit gives an opportunity to our local high school students to showcase their talents to the community,” said Michael Parker, president of the South Shore Arts Council. “This grant from the Community Foundation allows us to bring together students that are serious about pursuing art, and provides cash awards to the winning students and funds to their school for much needed art supplies and activities,” added Parker.

The Pelican Players, a community theatre group of 300 volunteer members located in Sun City Center, received $20,000 for the installation of a portable sound system.

For more information on the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, please visit

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