Emerging Cultural Leaders Expand Their Horizons
The Emerging Cultural Leaders Program is an exciting and new initiative of the Broward Cultural Council. This program aims to cultivate Broward County’s next generation of cultural leadership by focusing attention on people who have the will and desire to develop cultural leadership skills. The initiative presents an excellent way for young professionals to enhance leadership skills, build relationships with business and community leaders, and productively contribute to civic life, cultural development, and gain recognition within causes that stir their passion.
Scott Sherven took time out from his behind-the-scenes role as production manager for the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theatre (FLCT) recently to participate in the Emerging Cultural Leaders Program.
“I decided to participate in the program in order to enhance my own experience as a member of the South Florida cultural community,” he says. “Additionally, it provides the opportunity for me to get more involved as an arts advocate and to bring these experiences to my own organization.”
Sherven feels that the Emerging Cultural Leaders Program is giving him the tools he can use to help promote the arts, both with the Children’s Theatre and other arts groups. “My primary goal is to become more proficient in the needs and services of our local arts organizations so that I can be more involved in arts advocacy. It is paramount for us to create a comprehensive and energetic awareness of all that Broward County has to offer.”
One of the many benefits Sherven has found really useful is the networking, which he says is “key to the success of any organization.”
“Being a member of ECLP enables me to meet and converse with a diverse group of local professionals,” he adds. “I would certainly recommend to anyone interested in being more active in the arts to join the Emerging Cultural Leaders Program. This is especially true for professionals who have an appreciation of the arts but may not have much contact with arts organizations through their daily life.”
Michelle Heethawakage grew up immersed in the arts and wants to see future generations have the opportunity to do the same.
“As a child, I was fortunate enough to have an exposure to art, theater, music and dance through well-funded programs,” says the technical engineer. “As the purse strings tighten, in an economically stringent time, I feel that it is important to make sure that these programs continue to run.”
Although her vocation is engineering, she feels her daily life is enhanced by her involvement in the Broward Cultural Division’s Emerging Cultural Leaders Program (ECLP) and arts organizations.
“Being a part of Na Ohana O’Kealoha, a Hula Halau (Halau is the Hawaiian word for school) as well as getting to know people I have met through Creative Pulse has helped enrich my life,” she explains. Creative Pulse hosts is a free forums and event social networking groups for creatives from all sectors including artists, designers, “techies” and entrepreneur. The event is and enthusiasts held at the Abdo New River Room of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on the fourth Wednesday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m.
Heethawakage is very involved in this eventwith Creative Pulse and serves on its advisory committee. “There is a networking hour, a feature performance; (it) is a great way to meet and greet others in the community. I have met many interesting people – sculptors, photographers, painters, dancers – the list goes on!”
Among the many benefits that Heethawakage reaps from the program are the workshops held every two to three months on a variety of topics.
“These workshops are informative and have heightened my awareness of the issues that are important to our arts community including grants, advocacy and cultural diversity. I have found that my technical background brings a different perspective to the table when problem-solving or fundraising discussions arise,” she says.
She also recommends that other professionals take part in the program. “It is very rewarding to be involved in processes that help enrich the community and I recommend that others get involved. That is what we need – caring professions looking to help our community.”