Arts and Culture in Winter Haven and Lakeland|
In Winter Haven and Lakeland, we enjoy beautiful weather in an unspoiled environment, close to major beaches on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Anyone with an appreciation of natural beauty will be more than happy here. But what of the needs of the inner man or woman? As the saying goes, man does not live by bread alone. The cultural arts in all their many forms help to give our lives meaning and substance, and in Lakeland and Winter Haven we are blessed with talented individuals working in superb facilities, entertaining, informing, educating and amusing us. Whether your passion is music, live theater, the visual arts, you'll find it here.
The Lakeland Center combines the 10,000 seat Jenkins Arena, 2,296 seat Youkey Theater, exhibit halls and meeting rooms under one roof. Home to the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, the Lakeland Center also plays host to touring Broadway shows such as The Wizard of Oz and The Music Man, headlining top musical acts such as Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, and tickles funny bones with nationally renowned comedians. Subscription deals and single event ticketing guarantee you will find much to your liking.
In Winter Haven, the visual arts scene is anchored by the Ridge Art Association. As promoter and sponsor of art shows, juried exhibitions and other cultural events, the RAA plays a vital role in the development of artists, young and old, in Polk County.
Theater Winter Haven is a remarkable artistic presence in our community. Over the past 40 years, TWH has become a mainstay of cultural life in central Florida. Recognized by numerous authorities as one of the best community theaters in America, every year sees TWH produce a five play Main Stage season, a two play Theater for Young People's series, a summer musical, two touring productions, and a three play reading series called StageRead. There are many commercial theaters that would kill to be so active. In Lakeland, the Lakeland Community Theatre has spent the past 25 years entertaining and engaging audiences with up to five main stage productions a year, and a Theater for Youth that annually mounts two productions. In addition, the Company presents four dramatic literary works at The Polk Museum of Art's Kent Harrison Auditorium. These pieces are much more than entertainment, in content and presentation they aim to challenge and engage their audience by redefining theater's role.
We are lucky to have in our midst the Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. Dedicated to providing an education that marries traditional academics with quality programs in artistic fields such as Dance, Music (Choral, Jazz, Piano, Symphony), Musical Theatre, Theatre, Technical Theatre, and Visual Arts, Harrison has been a bright light on the artistic horizon since 1989. Recent expansion and renovation should ensure a bright outlook for present and future generations of artists.
The Imperial Symphony Orchestra plays primarily at the Youkey Theater in the Lakeland Center. Composed of approximately 80 community musicians, the ISO plays 5 Masterworks Concerts, 3 Outdoor Pops Concerts, 1 Family Concert and 1 fully-staged opera each season. In addition to playing at the Youkey Theater, the ISO also performs at Florida Southern College's Branscomb Auditorium, and their hugely popular outdoor pops concerts take place in Lakeland's Lake Mirror Amphitheater, Lake Silver Amphitheater in Winter Haven and Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales. Many people would argue that the most beautiful musical instrument is the human voice, and in fulfillment of that point of view the Lakeland Choral Society has, for over 40 years, brought joyous choral music to Lakelandand Winter Haven. The Society often performs with the ISO, and has delighted audiences as far afield as Ireland and Italy.
When it comes to the visual arts, we are truly blessed. The Polk Museum of Art has dedicated itself to being a leading innovator among Florida's visual arts museums. Going from strength to strength, it now boasts eight galleries and a sculpture garden, and regularly mounts exhibitions from its own impressive permanent collection as well as hosting touring shows and mounting retrospectives. In addition, the Museum offers hands-on workshops for the entire family, often without cost. The Imperial Art Gallery and j. rowan galleries together work hard to showcase the incredible range of our diverse local talent. Arts on The Park is a community arts center and gallery located in one of the oldest buildings in Lakeland. They regularly host the Fine Arts Show and monthly Members Shows that feature local and regional artists. In addition to showing work, this is a place to come and learn, classes are offered regularly.
Finally, historically festivals and fairs have traditionally served to bring us together and celebrate our common heritage. Throughout our great country festivals dedicated to music, art, and diverse cultural and sporting activities are making a strong comeback. We are fortunate enough to have The Florida Strawberry Festival, a unique celebration of agriculture, commerce, industry, livestock, fine arts, horticulture, and crafts that is a piece of true Americana.