Flagler County, FL – Kicking off National Arts in Education Week, a collaborative effort among members of the arts community came to the rescue to ensure the 3rd Annual Celebrate the Arts! Concert took place on Tuesday evening in Palm Coast.
Set to host the event at the Flagler Auditorium featuring the United States Air Force Top Flight Band, auditorium director Amelia Fulmer reached out to the Palm Coast Arts Foundation for assistance when it was required to hold the event outdoors.
“We are fortunate to be at the Palm Coast Arts Foundation (PCAF), working together to pull this together. None of it would have happened without Flagler Broadcasting and their skills at getting sponsors and getting people out here,” said Fulmer with appreciation.
PCAF executive director Nancy Crouch said the organization was happy to oblige, welcoming the band and audiences to the main stage and courtyard for the first musical performance in what seemed like ages.
“It’s about the collaboration. I think it’s so important to work with the other partners. City Repertory Theatre has done many performances here, and we are working with the Flagler Auditorium for their outdoor performances,” said Crouch.
“People are anxious to get out and start doing things and this is nice. It is very nice,” she said, beaming.
Family-friendly comedy was on tap to open the show, and comedienne Cristy B had audiences laughing alongside Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin, who was thrilled to take part in the event.
“I am more excited than anything to add the fourth “c” to my mantra – which is culture and creativity,” said Alfin. “It’s about adding the arts to our area. Town Center is the last pillar to build and this will make us the best city in all of Florida.”
In addition to the Old Kings Elementary School (OKES) paint bucket band’s opening act and the rousing Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums’ performance, artwork from OKES and Flagler Palm Coast High School art students was tastefully displayed for the public.
Overseen by Flagler Palm Coast High School digital media teacher Ed Beckett and fellow arts educators Taylor Pogue, Amber Jensen and Ambur Carter in honor of National Arts in Education Week, all were glad to have students back in class.
“Last year most of my advanced students were remote and that was a real challenge, but at least they’re back in the classroom. I think we have some really strong artists this year,” said Beckett, whose students have helped with countless art initiatives throughout the community during his decades of teaching.
That passion for arts and education courses through Fulmer, as well. As a former music and chorus teacher, Fulmer has seen firsthand what music can do in a child’s life. Watching the band perform, she recounted the stories shared by the band members before the show.
“Music spans your entire life. (In school), that’s where it starts. The seed has to be planted, and they’re lucky – they get to make music all their adult life,” she said.
Featuring Top 40 hits spanning a myriad of musical genres, members of the Top Flight Band shook off the dust, ready to be back on stage after an 18 month hiatus according to Senior Airman Courtney Woods, one of two women fronting the band.
“As part of our mission as the Air Force Band, it’s honor, inspire and connect. So we honor veterans, and we try to inspire the American public by connecting with them and telling the story of the military,” she said.
The Rhode Island native spent time after the show visiting with her aunt Lila Carder, who drove over from Orlando to see the show and cheer on her niece.
“Courtney’s our pride and joy at home. Honest and truly when she comes home we all get her to sing. Whether it be a birthday party, a porch party or a funeral, we get her to sing, and we’re all so happy just watching her,” said Carder. “My heart is beaming and I’m so proud of all of them.”
Belting out hits like Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”, Woods said it’s an honor and a privilege to represent the United States while paying homage to her roots in education.
“Today we’re here to help support music and art in our schools. A lot of us started music when we were in our public school system. The people in this band have gone to the best music colleges and conservatories. They’ve played in symphonies, in the pit on Broadway, touring shows, they’ve played for presidents – and that all started in our public school system through art and music programs,” she said.
“I am so proud that not only do I get to do what I love every day, but I get to serve my country.”
As a supporter of the arts and aspiring talent, Flagler Broadcasting’s Kirk Keller worked closely with the Flagler Auditorium to help with the showcase performance.
“We just thought it was important to do something for arts in education,” said Keller. “We love our youth and sometimes they discover themselves in elementary or junior high, just like Courtney. I think it’s really great for young people to come out and see these performances.”
Since taking the helm at the Flagler Auditorium, Fulmer has worked to raise awareness for arts in education while increasing collaboration among the arts and culture community.
“We hope to do this every year in September, let’s all get together and have a good time,” said Fulmer.
“We’re just so thankful for our friendships and partnerships, and I am just beside myself. It’s more than a job to me, it’s all about the arts and arts education.”