Youth involvement fuels growth of Winthrop Arts Festival

Children in the Arts Factory after-school program use their love of the arts to help the community. They will take part in the annual Winthrop Arts Festival, which from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Winthrop Arts Factory
Children in the Arts Factory after-school program use their love of the arts to help the community. They will take part in the annual Winthrop Arts Festival, which from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.Winthrop Arts Factory
Published March 19 2015

RIVERVIEW — Granted Eli Martinez and Sergey Sullivan have innate reasons to hang out after school on the grounds of Winthrop Town Centre. The 14-year-old friends are the sons of resident artist Bryant Martinez and community founder John Sullivan, respectively.

But as their after-school gatherings at the Winthrop Pole Barn began to grow to include friends and residents, a fledging organization sprouted. The Arts Factory is an outdoor, rugged after-school program geared toward children 5-18 who combine their love of the arts to help the community.

The new group will have a part in the seventh annual Winthrop Arts Festival that runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The festival showcases the work of 100 artists and features entertainment from local musicians and schools including Blake High, Mulrennan Middle, Progress Village and Winthrop Charter.

"It's a community tradition," Bryant Martinez said. "I'm proud of it."

The event benefits groups such as the Emergency Care Help Organization, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and VSA Florida, which champions arts education and cultural experiences for and by people with disabilities.

John Sullivan, who founded Winthrop along with his wife, Kay, said the festival is based on a model he noticed while visiting Italy and seeing teenagers leading younger children.

"It's sustainable," he said. "All events we do in the community should involve kids."

Youngsters from the Arts Factory will display pieces they made from clay taken from the community grounds, as well as musical instruments fashioned out of upcycled waste. The event is free, and in addition to the usual art and food vendors and interactive kids' section, artists will be working on a public piece that will be placed in the community garden.

Call (813) 601-3129 for more information on the arts festival and the Arts Factor.

Contact Eric Vician at [email protected]

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