￼￼The Florida Theatre has partnered with First Coast High School’s B.E.S.s.T. program to install a mural project funded by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. The project was led by Cathedral Arts Project teacher Laurie Brown and Florida Theatre Director of Marketing Kendall Barsin.
The B.E.S.s.T. Program (Behavioral Education and Social Skills Teaching) of First Coast High is a program for students who have behavioral or emotional difficulties and have been removed from the regular education setting as a result of these difficulties. This program is devoted to utilizing behavior management systems that teach and reward appropriate behaviors, social skills instruction, therapeutic components and academic enrichment to ensure that students master key knowledge and skills.
The students in this program receive about seven weeks of art instruction during the academic year, and this year the bulk of this art instruction time was spent planning and creating a large-scale five-panel public wall mural. This project was created in partnership with the Florida Theatre, who provided the panels on which the mural pieces were created. The supplies for the project were provided by the Cultural Council’s Arts Education Enrichment Grant.
The students studied Jacksonville’s rich musical history, the Florida Theatre and various music genres in order to plan the mural design. They toured the Florida Theatre to gain additional background information and inspiration for their work, then used collage and mural paint to create their vision on the wooden mural panels.
Students who under different circumstances might have difficulty functioning in a classroom, or working in close proximity to peers or adults, were able to plan and work together towards this common goal. Along the way, they experienced doubt and changes in their artistic vision of the project, but they worked through each issue as it came and produced the first public mural the First Coast High students of this program have yet to create.
The mural has been installed on the outside wall of Dos Gatos, across the street from the Florida Theatre. The mural panels feature a continuous stage design across all five pan- els, inspired by the Florida Theatre stage as well as musicians and performers on stage.
Pictures of the mural creation process can be seen on the B.E.S.s.T. Program Art Class blog at excelvisualarts.wordpress.com.
A nonprofit organization, the Florida Theatre is an anchor of the Downtown development of Jacksonville, drawing over 125,000 people a year to the city’s center by offering hundreds of cultural and entertainment events annually. For event listings and information visit floridatheatre.com or call 355-5661.