More funding will be available for the partnership of The Florida Orchestra and the University Area CDC’s Prodigy® Cultural Arts Program to provide free music-related experiences for children who may otherwise not have the opportunity.

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners has approved more funding to extend and expand a groundbreaking partnership between The Florida Orchestra and the University Area CDC’s Prodigy® Cultural Arts Program to provide free violin lessons and other musical experiences to children who might not have the opportunity any other way.

“The Prodigy-Florida Orchestra partnership has been a big success,” said Mike Trepper, Prodigy® director. “It has brought new and exciting cultural arts opportunities to youth and adults across Hillsborough County. From violin classes to performances, the more exposure to a variety of arts, the more of an impact we all can make. Our community benefits from solid partnerships that enrich lives.”

Thanks to a new $100,000 grant, the University Area CDC and Hillsborough County jointly are providing funding for the program, including instrument rental and other class supplies. The grant also allows the orchestra to hire a violin instructor and a part-time coordinator dedicated to the partnership.

The partnership began over the summer when the orchestra taught group violin classes twice a week to kids at the Roy Haynes Recreation Center in Tampa. The orchestra also performed chamber concerts, hosted Prodigy® students and families at a TFO Masterworks concert at the Straz Center and offered the Instrument Petting Zoo at various venues, giving students the opportunity to see, touch and play instruments. Thanks to an initial $80,000 grant, also from the University Area CDC and Hillsborough County, all was provided free.

Renewed funding through September 2019 will allow the partnership to explore providing lessons and other activities at more Prodigy® locations throughout Hillsborough County.

“We’re excited about the Prodigy® partnership because we already see that it works,” said Erin Horan, TFO’s community engagement director. “Kids are working hard and feeling so proud of what they’ve accomplished. Learning an instrument teaches life skills, such as responsibility, leadership and problem-solving. All of that transfers to other parts of their lives, at home and in school.”

Prodigy® uses an innovative approach to empower, educate and enable eligible youth, providing a doorway to a better world. Kids ages 5 to 18 experience performing and visual arts, taught as a tool for self-expression, to learn communication, exploration, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.

For information about the Prodigy® Cultural Arts Program, visit For Florida Orchestra, visit

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