ArtsUnited, Inc. is a nonprofit gay and lesbian arts organization founded in 1999 in response to the growing need of local lgbt artists for an interactive and supportive working environment.
ArtsUniteds mission is to use the arts to break down historical barriers preventing lesbians and gays from contributing fully and openly to the cultural, social and economic success of South Florida. We strive to accomplish that in many ways including programming art exhibits and performances in mainstream public venues, social networking opportunities, and workshops and seminars.
Board of Directors 2014
Jeff Larson, President
Lage Carlson, Vice President
Lori Brown , Treasurer
Daniel Mullen, Secretary
Lori Brown, Director
Trish Stypka, Director
Sharron Demarest, Director of Membership
Visual Fine arts events every year, including ArtExplosion, United and Proud member art exhibit, Naughty Show.
Individual: $50 fully tax deductable
Family: $75 fully tax deductable
Art Lover: $150 (includes two tickets to ArtExplosion Art Show Opening $20 value) $80 tax deductable
VIP: $1,000 (includes four tickets to ArtExplosion & naming rights to Best in Show for ArtExplosion 2015)
ArtsUnited began in 1997 when frustrated play write Eston Dunn staged a reading of his original play, Lip Sync. As the play concluded, Eston made his pitch for financial support to get the play produced. The play is very gay-themed and Eston is openly gay. It was his belief his homosexuality was the reason his play was being rejected by potential producers. ArtServe staff member Constance Avery happened to be in the audience, and she followed up with Eston after the show and suggested ArtServe might be able to help. With the help of arts-incubator ArtServe, ArtsUnited, Inc. was created, a Board was formed, and the organization was incorporated in Florida on March 8, 1999. The mission was stated as: Use the arts to help fight bias and bigotry toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Here are highlights of our history:
1999- ArtsUnited, Inc is founded by Eston Dunn and incorporated.
2000- The first president, Carey Frazier, guides the volunteer Board through the 501 (c) (3) approval process into early 2000.
2001- ArtExplosion is a one night event held on the first floor of the Main Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale, attended by over 300 people. In June, Broward County Library Outreach Services asks ArtsUnited to produce a visual art exhibit for Gay Pride Month. United and Proud showcases gay and lesbian artists at Gallery Six. In August , Stonewall Library Board President Rob Nathans invites ArtsUnited to create a gallery space in the library to feature artists in solo exhibits. The ArtsUnited-Stonewall Solo Artist Series is launched!
2002- Local openly gay businessman Jim Stork joined the Board of ArtsUnited and asks the group to put
art work in his very popular café in Wilton Manors. Art ay Storks allows ArtsUnited to feature two members each month in solo exhibits.
2003- ArtsUnited adds a third annual group exhibit to observe World AIDS Day December 1, 2003.
2006- Ribbons for the Children is introduced when 10 ArtsUnited members donated artwork depicting their version of the red AIDS ribbon to the Childrens Diagnostic and Treatment Center to be auctioned. Out of the Closet Art Sale is lauched at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in September.
2007- ArtExplosion expands to a two week GLBT arts festival including art, music, film, theater, literature, comedy and cabaret by or about gays and lesbians. The ArtsUnited Artist Pavilion at PrideFest, sponsored by Tylenol PM, is established to provide artists a space to exhibit their work for sale. The Eleven Bridges Mural Project is launched to install the first Mural on the Wilton Manors Library.
Membership has grown over the years to include 120 members, primarily artists. ArtExplosion 2007 presented over 24 programs in 14 venues and was attended by over 4000 patrons of the arts. United and Proud has occurred every year in the Gallery Six at the Broward County Main Library since 2001, and was attended by over 500 in 2007. The monthly shows at Stonewall Library are seen by an average of 500 visitors a month. All these programs are planned an implemented by the 8 Board of Directors and a handful of volunteers on a minimum budget.
ArtsUnited has become an art-incubator for fledgling gay and lesbian artists, allowing them opportunities to showcase their art in gay-friendly environments, and offering them encouragement and support. The organization also connects them to the larger arts community in South Florida, introducing them to ArtServe, the Broward Art Guild, and other arts organizations.
Over the years, ArtsUnited has consistently collaborated with the Broward Art Guild, 9Muses Art Center, Broward County Libraries, Stonewall Library and Archives, Storks Bakery, the Museum of Art, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and ArtServe to produce quality programming that has been popular with Broward County residents. ArtsUnited has also used the arts to help other nonprofits raise money such as the annual Holiday Bizarre, Holiday Tops, Ribbons for the Children and Legacy Exhibit. Broward House, PWAC, Childrens Diagnostic and Treatment Center and the Mental Health Association have all benefited from an ArtsUnited program.