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Winthrop Arts launches initiatives with community event

In early moments of a conversation with Bryant Martinez or Katharine Sullivan-Dawes, their love of community and the arts are apparent.

The two combine their passions Saturday evening to celebrate the official federal nonprofit status of the Winthrop Arts organization. Special guests from New York will highlight the Winthrop Arts Community Launch at the Winthrop Barn Theatre.

Winthrop founders Kay and John Sullivan developed Winthrop Arts, along with their daughter Sullivan-Dawes and town artist Martinez, as a means to bring more of the arts of any medium to the community. After the growth of the annual Winthrop Arts Festival, the organization and its "board of visionaries" made plans to expand and legitimize itself as a grass roots community organization.

"We've been working since about July on making it more realized and something we can raise money for, so we can really kick-start the programming," Sullivan-Dawes said.

With the help of the Winthrop community as well as special guest artists and performers, the organization is planning a family-friendly celebration of its newly acquired 501(c)3 status to reach community interests in virtually all art forms.

"This isn't going to be a typical arts night or a typical gallery opening, and this is not sitting in your seat and watching a performance," Sullivan-Dawes said. "It's about an immersive, experiential art night; it's a sampling of what we're doing in the community through art."

Connecting cultures will be a major theme with the organization's future, according to Martinez, and to jump-start that concept, he and Sullivan-Dawes have reached out to New York director, actor and teacher Travis Greisler along with choreographer Misha Shields of New York and Boston.

Greisler, whose resume includes Broadway appearances at age 9 and has performed in national tours of Les Miserables, will play the role of director in Saturday's community launch.

"Travis and Misha have all kinds of things planned," Martinez said. "I'm excited for them to join us because I know it will be unique. I know it's going to be something that this area has not seen."

Shields also is a multifaceted artist who, after graduating from the Boston Conservatory, moved to New York to perform and choreograph many off-Broadway shows and music videos and works as a dance instructor and professional photographer.

"I was worried that people would just think I'm bringing friends from New York, and that was my own insecurities talking," Sullivan-Dawes said. "But everyone was so excited for new people to come down and to explore what was out there, and to have that New York connection, that it was a really positive thing. I embraced it, and I called Travis and said, 'This is great because I don't know who else does this anywhere.'"

Martinez said he hopes the event will draw a large crowd.

"Do you remember the last time Riverview had Broadway connections? I think we should cherish this and foster it and grow it," Martinez said. "The fact that Broadway and these individuals because of Katharine are looking at the opportunity to visit us as a destination is a super big deal, and we should rally around it."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

>>If you go

Winthrop Arts Community Launch

The organization's event will be from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Winthrop Barn Theatre, 11349 Bloomingdale Ave., with a special "family hour" set for 5 to 6 p.m. The evening will feature ongoing installations, music, pop-up performances and live art. For more information, go to

winthroparts.org.

Winthrop Arts launches initiatives with community event 01/21/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 7:38am]
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