Boldness, Openness, and a New Arts Organization
The Studios of Key West Looks to the Future

Eric V. Holowacz

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“Go at it boldly,” wrote Canadian spiritualist Basil King, “and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.” In a way, that notion has been the ethic of The Studios of Key West ever since we launched this non-profit organization in early 2007. Before that arrival, there was a long process of dreaming, planning, researching, and gathering the island’s creative people and community leaders. The gestation period took many forms, and lasted more than a few years. But by late-2007, The Studios of Key West had a professional staff in place, a beautifully renovated campus, an expanded board, and the origins of a program now recognized as an exciting part of the Key West season. In five simple words: we went at it boldly.

From day one, my staff and I also flung open the Armory doors and invited anyone and everyone to experience our organization. We asked people to come inside and share their ideas with us. We listened to creative proposals, responded and nurtured them. And we welcomed friends and neighbors to help us build community. These early years were about discovery, exploration, and partnerships. They were about the great unknown entities and artistic efforts that would come to define us. The writer Robert Collier once put it this way: “You can do anything you think you can. This knowledge is literally the gift of the gods, for through it you can solve every human problem. It should make of you an incurable optimist. It is the open door.” With a nod to that sentiment, we propped open the Armory portal, and extraordinary new forces have been coming to visit ever since.

The Studios of Key West now stands at the threshold of its third and most ambitious season. The program and operational models are fully established, and our 2009/2010 workshops, exhibitions, and events are off to a great start. A full-color catalog just hit the streets, and the brand new website is up and running. For our organization and its creative community, the discovery, exploration, and partnerships continue. But behind the scenes, the board of directors and staff have turned our attention to planning for the future.

Quite naturally, we called upon the island’s greatest charitable force for help with a sustainability model to keep us solid and growing. That force is the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, and with them we’ve created the Arts & Culture Fund. Like our organization three years ago, it is small but ambitious, and it is dedicated to the creative life at America’s Southernmost Point. This new fund is a ready, simple way for local creative people and patrons to support our long-term place in Key West. And it welcomes bequests, annual contributions, and even the gift of assets and securities in support of The Studios of Key West.

As we plan for 2011 and beyond, our organization promises to keep an open door to the community. In our mission to foster the arts and express our island’s cultural identity, we will continue to go at it boldly. But our coming years now request your presence, input, and help. So if you enjoy the upcoming creative season and might be inclined to join us, or might want to come to the aid of The Studios of Key West today, please contact the Community Foundation to learn about the Arts & Culture Fund. With your support, we are sure that boldness, open doors, and unexpected forces will continue to see us through.

The Studios of Key West