We have so much business at hand today I'm limiting my report to items not covered in the Committee Reports.
Firstly, I want to thank you all for a very good year.
I think we'd agree that board engagement was improved over the year and is improving rapidly. I'm very excited for the coming year and working with our new board members. I hope everyone is as energized as the staff is for their committee commitments and the road ahead.
The Cultural Council from a fiscal perspective ended the year with a surplus.
We had a very smooth, very productive (and always rigorous) grant cycle with our Cultural Service Grants. The panel was outstanding.
We debuted 34 new pieces to the City of Jacksonville's permanent collection of art. Those pieces are being recognized today at UNF where Art in Public Places will receive the City Beautiful Award. In just three years or so we've nearly doubled the city's permanent collection of public art.
We've innovated as well. Our commitments to equity and arts in education has shown great progress as we featured 41 paid internships at CSGs all over the city through the Cultural Service Internship program. We've partnered with the Center for Arts in Education on an improved curriculum for students this school year to prepare for internships next summer.
Our Lift Every Student embedded artists program with Any Given Child has begun and artists are in schools working with students in four low performing Elementary Schools.
Our communications via web, newsletter and social media continue to grow and help our cultural community grow and community at large prosper.
Our professional development conference sold out and got universal positive reviews. We also were able to make unrestricted grants to artists from this event. One artist was able to present her original work at the Fringe Festival in Scotland. Another was able to self-publish his first children's book.
Our recurring Vystar International Lecture series continues to be a success and I'm happy to mention that we have a commitment from Vystar for another year of that popular program.
Recently we scored an A on our grant application from the Division of Cultural Affairs, which means we are eligible for full funding from the state legislature.
As you were able to preview in our Action Plan portion of the Retreat, we've got more innovation to come. Staff is absolutely thrilled to look forward and work with the board on our new Strategic Plan.
On behalf of the staff, I just want to say that I've never felt better about the state of arts and culture in this community. The scene (if you will) is thriving and focused, hard working and relentless. I think those attributes can be used to describe the Cultural Council as well.