By LOIS KINDLE
The Firehouse Cultural Center recently partnered with the RCMA Wimauma Academy to provide art classes and other educational experiences about the world for students in grades K-5.
“Thanks to gifts from our community residents, these students will learn there’s more to the world than where they live and go to school,” said Chris Bredbenner, the Firehouse’s executive director. “The school considers it a second-semester field trip for the children.”
Students in each grade level will have two turns taking the weekly themed classes between now and May 11. For example, the kindergarteners’ first class, called Color the World, introduced them to traveling around the world through making mosaics of the earth. The tentative schedule has third graders doing aboriginal dot paintings and making Chinese dragons.
“The idea of these classes is for students to come away with the sense that creativity and making art are fundamentally human and at the center of every culture in every time through history,” said class instructor Delaney Simone, an experienced artist who graduated from Ave Maria University with a minor in elementary education. Trilingual, she speaks English, Spanish and classical Latin. “We want them to experience the wonderful feeling that what they create is worthwhile and interesting and that they have a place at the table of creators.”
Beth Stein, the Firehouse’s marketing and operations coordinator, agrees. “Art offers people the opportunity for creativity and opens the pathway to discovery and learning about our cultural diversity, regardless of age and experience.” She added, “These children are also learning confidence and gaining self-worth.”
The Firehouse Cultural Center offers year-round classes in all forms of art for people of all ages, summer camps and educational field trips; free family community events, workshops and lectures; WHPX 101.9, fundraising events like Bourbon on the Bayou (coming up March 7); live entertainment through the Firehouse Pub; and more. Its classes are fee-based or free, depending on income.
The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is funded in part by the Hillsborough County Commission; Carter Hospital Group LLC, The Resort & Club @ Little Harbor; South Shore Council of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay; and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. It is also funded through memberships, individual donations and corporate sponsorships.
Programming partners include Hillsborough Community College – South Shore; VSA Florida; Arts Education @ the Straz Center for the Performing Arts; Ruskin Branch Library; South Shore Arts Council; South Shore Regional Library; Arts in Education, Hillsborough County Schools; and the Tampa Museum of Art.
The Firehouse Cultural Center is at 101 First Ave. NE, Ruskin. For membership information, class listings and scholarship opportunities or to RSVP for classes and events, visit www.firehouseculturalcenter.org or call 813-645-7651.