Over $4 Million in Cultural Tourism Grants Handed Out to 40 Organizations

Community & Services

Grant Monies from Tourist Development Tax

Last month, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved $4.2 million for the Cultural Tourism Grant Program. Forty organizations were recommended and approved for funding, and the recipients will be announced at the inaugural Orange County ACT (Arts, Culture and Tourism) Awards on November 8, 2023 at the new Orange County Multicultural Center in Pine Hills.

“This year’s funded projects are estimated to have a cultural impact of $94.6 million with a projected attendance of nearly 1.8 million, of which about 460,000 would be tourists,” asserted Terry Olson, administrator, Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs. “The return on investment in arts and culture is significant — $24 goes to the local economy for every dollar we invest.”

The program, which started in 2002, supports organizations with projects that bring visitors to Orange County. It is funded by the Tourist Development Tax, a 6 percent levy on hotel and other overnight stays. Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs contracts with United Arts of Central Florida to oversee the application process and administer the program.

The grant approval process started in September 2023 with the Orange County Cultural Tourism Review Panel, then the Arts & Cultural Affairs Advisory Council, and finally the Board of County Commissioners. Evaluation criteria include Identity (innovation/uniqueness, attention/standing), Tourism (marketing, attendance), Quality (artistic excellence, feedback/critical acclaim) and Implementation (outreach & diversity, operational readiness, financial readiness, financial match).

Of the roughly $4.16 million going to these organizations, nearly $163,000 is for the new Collaboration Supplement program, which was designed to assist emerging and minority-led organizations that might not qualify for a cultural-tourism grant on their own, but are teaming with an established organization on an event. The established organization is given the funding supplement to work with the less-established group.

“Funding is vital for arts and cultural organizations,” said Hayley Black, office coordinator, Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs. “It can be difficult for nonprofits to raise money, especially for those that aren’t as established, so it’s critical we help support them in any way we can.”

Having a robust arts and culture sector also plays a significant role in boosting economic development. Businesses looking to relocate want their employees to enjoy where they live, so if the local arts scene is vibrant, it represents a strong selling point.

“These organizations all want to offer arts and culture as a critical aspect of the community, and they all bring something unique to the table,” said Olson. “Orange County is making a significant investment in this area because we understand how important it is to not only competing economically, but also offering the best quality of life for our residents.”

For more information, go to Orange County Arts & Culture Overview.

Grant Recipients:
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
Art & History Museums of Maitland
Asian Cultural Association of Central Florida
Association to Preserve African-American Society, History & Tradition
Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community
Bach Festival Society of Winter Park
Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts
Caribbean American Passport Multicultural Initiative
Central Florida Ballet
Central Florida Community Arts
Central Florida Vocal Arts
Crealdé School of Art
Creative City Project
Downtown Arts District
D.T.O. Jazz Fest Inc.
Florida FIRST Robotics Education Foundation
Garden Theatre
Global Peace Film Festival
Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida
Leu Gardens
Maker Effect Foundation
The Mennello Museum of American Art
Open Scene
Opera Orlando
Orlando Ballet
Orlando Community Arts
Orlando Family Stage
Orlando Fringe
Orlando International Film Festival
Orlando Museum of Art
Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra
Orlando Science Center
Orlando Shakes
The Renaissance Theatre Company
Rollins Museum of Art
Snap! Orlando
Timucua Arts Foundation
Winter Garden Heritage Foundation
The Winter Park Playhouse

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