Festival blends the arts into environmental stewardship, science and African American culture

by Carol Mosley

For more than 40 years the Cultural Arts Coalition has been a voice for presenting African American history and culture through arts, environmental stewardship and science programs.

CAC is based out of, and manages, the Wilhelmina Johnson Community Center. The WJRC is rented by local groups for events, meetings and classes. This community resource is in a precarious position, with the City of Gainesville facing severe budget cuts that will result in loss of funding for many non-profit programs.

The CAC hosts the summer Environmental Ambassadors program. The Ambassadors visit  environmentally sensitive areas, examine the effects of the consumer waste stream, and learn alternatives that empower them to share sustainability options in their communities. This year, some of the past summer’s Ambassadors received internships with local businesses.

The Science Bus is a mobile hands-on STEM demonstration center that is part of the after school science clubs, supported by grants from City of Gainesville and Alachua County, as well as community support.

The annual 5th Avenue Arts Festival brings together non-profit groups and local artisans to share in African centered music and dance. The Festival features kids’ activities with a bounce house and balloon animals, plus a stage with abundant local musical, dance, and spoken-word talent, including the Jazz Bandits, Sheba the Mississippi Queen, and Little Jake Mitchell. Food vendors keep the crowds fed and hydrated. 

This year will be the 44th year of the festival, which is themed “Continued Community Growth.”

Be a part of what makes Gainesville’s community strong and vibrant. Sell your handmade art; feed the crowd; promote the work of your nonprofit organization or come to enjoy the fun on May 5 and 6at the 44th Annual 5th Avenue Arts Festival at the Santa Fe College Charles L. Blount Center, 401 NW 6th Street. See www.culturalartscoalition.org/annual-5th-ave-arts-festival/ for more information.

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