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The Public Need for Art

A Personal Note from the Producing Artistic Director

June 25, 2024


Florida Studio Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Season is coming to a close. It will be the end of one era and the beginning of another. In those fifty years, our successes have been many!

In fifty short years, FST has grown from one theatre to five. The audience has grown from 103 subscribers to over 40,000. Annual attendance has grown from 5,000 to over 230,000.

And those are surely numbers to make one proud. But they do not measure the art.

I believe it was the senior Mr. Rockefeller who said: “The business of business is business. The business of art is art.”

Then how do we measure the art? How do we measure the value of a theatre? And more specifically, how do we measure the value of this theatre in this community?

We often talk about the need for food, clothing, and shelter first. But we also need food for the soul. And that is what art provides: ART IS FOOD FOR THE SOUL.

It is no accident that 10,000 years ago, when people were living in caves, after they filled their bellies with food and warmed their bodies with furs, they set about painting art on the walls of their caves. They were painting the essence of their lives on the walls of their homes.

They were seeking to understand why they were alive. People need art. 

Not because they want art the way a child wants candy, but because they NEED ART for the soul, the way a human needs food for the body.

Art feeds the human spirit, it feeds the mind, it deals with big ideas. Theatre deals with major conflict and no one gets hurt. Theatre is the great lab for human experiment.

It reminds us to be kind. It reminds us that there is cruelty. That there is heartbreak.  And when our turn comes to suffer, we have the skills to cope because we practiced those skills in the theatre.

The function of art is as real as the function of a roof over your head. If shelter is built to keep out the cold, then art is built to keep in our humanity. And if clothing is meant to keep us warm, then art is meant to warm our hearts and keep us from growing cold of heart and mean of spirit. Art is food for the soul.

We know that art makes our community a better place to raise children. Because we know that art makes our community an even better place to raise adults.

We know the value of art. And we know that to create art requires courage. ART IS DANGEROUS. It’s a place where we experiment with thought, test new ideas, and explore a better life. A better way of living. And sometimes that can be offensive. It breaks rules because those new thoughts break our generally accepted collective customs.

The ancient Greeks gave their winning playwrights the same Medal of Honor that they bestowed upon their great warrior generals. Because the great warrior poets of ancient Greece knew that the courage to create required the same valor as the courage to fight on the battlefield.

My father was a warrior. Career military. He spent his professional life coping with the battlefields of Europe, Korea, and then Vietnam. He taught me that courage was not the absence of fear but the willingness to take action in the face of fear.

As an artist, I know fear.  I know it every day. BECAUSE ART IS DANGEROUS.

I know that it takes courage to create.

I know that it takes courage to think what no one has thought, to say what no one has said, to paint what no one has seen, to sing what no one has sung, and to express what no one has expressed, to risk the rejection of the herd.


Indeed, we are born conscious but not civilized. We are born awake, but not enlightened. These things require practice. And the theatre is where we practice our life skills through play.


That integration of head, heart, and body, glued together by spirit, continues to be the golden mean. And at FST, we celebrate the POWER OF ART.

At FST, we are creating an extraordinary Artistic Home for artists to work and create for decades to come. And an Artistic Home for audiences to warm their souls and feed their spirits.

With the help of an extraordinary community, we are creating an Artistic Home for all people. Regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, education, or socioeconomic status. A theatre for the people. A public theatre. A theatre that, like a library, is filled with plays of diverse thoughts and people of diversity and is open to all.

A theatre that embraces the thoughts of many and serves not just the few, but makes theatre accessible and affordable to the many. A Theatre that serves the best in us all. A theatre that serves the ALL of us.

With your help, FST is creating an Artistic Home that will continue to produce all that is good, true, and honest in the American theatre today.

And together, in this Artistic Home, the artist and the audience will come together to explore what it means to be alive.

Welcome to the Next Fifty Years!