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Sides join forces for culture's sake

Published June 29, 2007


When it comes to the Carrollwood Cultural Center, think Beethoven, not baseball; da Vinci, not dodgeball; Baryshnikov, not basketball.

As renovations on the center near completion sometime in November, the Friends of the Carrollwood Cultural Center and county representatives are crafting program possibilities. But the partnership is raising some concern.

The center is planned as a beacon for cultural activity. Does the county understand that vision?

John Brill, spokesman for the county's Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, says yes.

"We've been meeting with this group since this center was a wish - a pie in the sky in everybody's eye.

"This is a partnership, " he said of the county's relationship with the Friends group. "One hand washes the other."

Vicki Cuccia's answer is also a resounding "Yes."

As chair of the program committee for the center, Cuccia last week had her first meeting with a representative from the parks department about programming.

Talk ranged from small but necessary things like chairs and music stands, and where to get them, to bigger issues like how to compensate instructors, what classes will be offered and how much enrollment will cost, said Cuccia.

The Friends group has a list of more than 20 people who are willing to instruct courses ranging from tai chi to music theory.

"She was very pleased with the list of instructors and classes, " Cuccia said about Lois Kessler of the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department. "She's easy to work with and has great ideas."

But with the building near completion, some in the Carrollwood community worry that this program planning, in the scheme of things, is late.

"A fine building doesn't mean much if you don't have the management for the programming, " said John Miley, director of Carrollwood Village Phase II Homeowners Association.

"There are a lot of things that need to be done in preparation to opening this place, " he said. "The lateness in the day to start planning is a real issue."

"Who's going to run this place?" asks Miley.

Well, the county doesn't yet have an answer, said Brill.

"We can't have programs until the building's open, " said Brill.

No opening date is set, said Brill, because the county does not know when the building will be completed.

"We can't hire staff ... not even a custodial staff, if they've got no place to work. It doesn't make sense, " he said.

That worries Miley.

"Bureaucracy moves slow, " he said. "Time passes; things change."

Things like county budgets.

"With the cuts, " said Brill, "there's a whole monkey wrench that's been thrown into a lot of different plans, but at this point, positions for the cultural center itself have not been impacted."

The center, costing nearly $5-million, is the product of a partnership between the county and the Friends. It is being expanded from the former building of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, at 13335 Casey Road.

"This is just an invaluable asset to the community, " said Art Keeble, director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. "It's something I've dreamed about for 20 years."

For more information about the center or the Friends group or to take a tour of the renovations, call 813 969-3991.

Amber Mobley can be reached at or (813) 269-5311.


Fast Facts:

Possible class offerings at the Carrollwood Cultural Center

Audition preparation

Brass instruments (beginner, youth, advanced)

Chamber music


Children's art

Community band

Community orchestra



Music survey

Musical theater

Music theory



Readers theater


Suzuki violin for kids and seniors

Tai chi


Visual art

Wind instruments (beginner, youth, advanced)


[Last modified June 28, 2007, 08:23:41]

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