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Springstead murals made possible by arts grant

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When folks drive by Springstead High School these days, they absolutely take note of the beautiful murals that now adorn the school’s exterior walls. They may not realize that these works of art represent the artistic product of a community collaboration and of a grant program that, year after year, continues to bring beauty and inspiration to the Hernando community.

In 2021, the Hernando County Arts Council awarded the Rotary Club of Spring Hill Florida with a $1,000 grant to fund a large-scale Student Activity Inclusivity Mural at Springstead High School. More than 50 students in the Interact Club (a Rotary-sponsored club that “unites young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self”) ultimately collaborated on a series of six murals, displaying teamwork, and commitment as well as exemplary artistic skills. “These murals will be here for life,” said Ronica Gurrier, leader for the Interact Club at FW Springstead High School. “In 10 years, when students drive by with their kids, they can show them something they did.”

And what they did, in the eyes of Springstead Interact Club president Gabby Quiros, represents a lasting contribution to school and community. “We realized that, by doing these murals, we were helping the community,” she said. “We were bringing color, and showing what makes our school.”
Mary Sports, Spring Hill Rotary Club officer, agrees. “Ronica always does such a great job with the Interact students and they take such pride in their work,” said Sports. “The murals represent their hard work, and are something they can be proud of.”

One of the murals displays a blossoming bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers. “Aside from being patriotic, the mural shows how we grow throughout high school,” said Interact Club member Isabella Quiros, who helped to paint this mural.

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Luke Denot and Carter Tomasky worked on a mural depicting an Eagle, the school’s mascot, overseeing a basket filled with sports balls, musical instruments, and a flag. “This mural represents extracurricular activities at our school,” said Tomasky.

Other murals depict a proud bald eagle, a globe, the colorful handprints of students involved in the project, a SHS arty graffiti mural, and the logo symbols for the Interact Club, Rotary International, and the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. “I had never done much with my art skills,” said Denot. “This project gave me a good opportunity to build my skills.”

“This made me want to do more art,” said Interact student Sage Kasberg, “And I loved helping other students as they made their art.”
This was all made possible with a grant from the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. “That $1,000 helped us so much with supplies,” said Gurrier. “We were able to apply a base coat and protective layers for our murals, to protect them from the elements.” The Springstead mural project is just one recipient honored and awarded through The Community Arts Grant program, which offers grants to civic or cultural organizations recognized as non-profits or charitable groups that support art and encourage art appreciation in Hernando County. “The mission of the Community Arts Grants program is to involve county residents in creating, appreciating, supporting, participating in, or learning about the creative arts in Hernando County. To that end, between 2017 and 2021 the Council provided $14,300 to 40 education, art, civic or cultural organizations recognized as nonprofit or charitable groups in the county,” said Cheryl Hill, the council’s Community Arts Grants Coordinator. “During the 2022 grant cycle we allocated $8,941 to eleven projects within the county.”

The Hernando County Fine Arts Council offers grants of a maximum of $1,000 each to area groups to promote the arts in Hernando County. The Community Arts Grants Program is designed to “involve county residents in creating, appreciating, supporting, participating in, or learning about the creative arts in Hernando County.”

“The Community Arts Grant is just one of the Art Council’s many initiatives to promote the creative arts in Hernando County!” said Jessica Knutila, administrative assistant to the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. “We support some really fun projects through this grant program.”
Any Hernando County education, art, civic or cultural organization recognized as a non-profit or charitable group may apply for these grants, which can be applied to projects such as Public art installations (mural, sculpture, etc), art-focused events or performances, or art instruction.
“The Community Arts Grant can be used for public art installations, like murals or sculptures, or art-related events, like an art show or painting workshop!” said Knutila. Applications are judged according to HCFAC mission consistency, outcomes, impact, innovation, numbers of people benefiting from the project, budget, cost-benefit, and visibility to Hernando County Arts and HCFAC.

Another recipient of the HCFAC Community Grant is the Suncoast Harmony Chapter of Sweet Adelines, which uses the funds for everything from print music to performance costumes. “We are so appreciative of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council and their wonderful grant program,” said Cindy LaPorte, assistant director of the Suncoast Harmony Chapter. “We are always happy to perform to promote the arts, and to bring public awareness to their fine organization.”

On Sept. 20, 5:30 pm at Brooksville City Hall (210 Howell Avenue, Brooksville), a pre-application workshop will be offered for grant applicants to ask questions and receive feedback on application prior to submission. October 7 at 5 p.m. is the application deadline; October 27, 5:30 pm at Brooksville City Hall, a grant review workshop will be offered. Recipients will be selected on November 10 and awardees will be notified on December 2. The project period will run January 1 – December 31.

Funding for the Community Arts Grant Program is generated by donations to the Arts Council, by proceeds from the council’s annual event, Art in the Park, and from the sale of the “Florida State of the Arts” specialty license plates sold here in Hernando County.
For questions, contact Cheryl Hill, Community Grant Program Coordinator. Email [email protected] or call 352.584.0429. Please read through the Community Arts Grant Program Guidelines before submitting your application.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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