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Experts and active community members create Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board

Dec 15, 2020

This fall, the Office of Institutional Advancement hosted a hybrid model meeting to introduce Dean of the School of Creative Arts & Letters Andrea McCook, along with other faculty, to the new Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board. Those in attendance included representatives from the St. Augustine Art Association, EMMA Concert Association, The Amp, St. Johns Cultural Council, A Classic Theatre, Inc. and Limelight Theatre among others including alumni, parents and community members.

“The arts, both visual and performing, are vital and vibrant in the St. Augustine community. It was inspiring to witness our students communicating with the board at our inaugural meeting, and to see the wonderful response of the board members to the students’ energy and enthusiasm,” said Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Creative Arts & Letters Andrea McCook. “I look forward to the partnerships this board will bring to our students both in terms of resources, but also in opportunities for internships and professional development,” said McCook.

In a year that saw the disappearance from our calendars of various forms of entertainment, art shows, museum exhibits, and theatre and musical performances, Flagler students are fortunate that creative opportunities to practice their craft have still been available thanks to local professionals and their professors.

“While outside the campus the effect of the pandemic has been devastating, Flagler students haven’t been as adversely affected as we have continued to find new ways to create work” said McCook.

Christina Parrish Stone, Executive Director of the St. Johns Cultural Council, believes the new Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board will increase opportunities for collaboration between local artists, cultural organizations, and Flagler staff and students.

"I look forward to helping to establish a professional development program, creating internship opportunities with Cultural Council stakeholders and making connections with working artists who can mentor these talented students. The Cultural Council is excited to welcome its first Flagler intern in January!"

The mission of the board is to “Serve as the principal connection between the arts community and the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Flagler College.” The members are tasked with engaging alongside the college in its fundraising efforts that are directly related to improving the arts-based programming at the college. Additionally, the board is to provide guidance, mentorship and advocacy for arts programming, faculty and resources in the arts-based majors.

Having served as an unofficial ambassador of Flagler’s theatre program since her graduation from Flagler in the early 1970s, Jean Rahner has gone on to found two successful local theatre companies. She’s excited to take the official mantle now as an Advisory Board member, saying, “Joining the Advisory board means I am able to help the community get to know the many gifts to St. Augustine that the college offers, most of the time for free, but also to provide Flagler with connections in the arts community that they might not otherwise have access to.”

Parrish Stone echoed Rahner’s statements saying, “Flagler contributes so much to the community, and we need to ensure that residents of and visitors to St. Johns County are aware of the many exhibitions and performances they can attend at the College.  I also think there are opportunities for businesses and local arts organizations to partner with Flagler to stage city-wide, and even county-wide, cultural events that will celebrate the arts, culture, history and heritage that make St. Augustine and St. Johns County such an exceptional place to live, work and visit. I'm honored to join the Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board and can't wait to explore the many ways we can support the arts together!”

Both the visual arts program and the performing arts program at the college are two of the oldest program offerings as well as arguably two of the most iconic programs offered. The Theatre Arts program was established by Tom Rahner and Phyllis Gibbs in 1969 and has flourished from there. Since then, two minors have been added to round out the program: Arts Administration in 2016 and Music in 2018. The visual arts program began as a Fine Arts (BFA) degree and has grown to include an art history major in 2011 and majors in film studies (2015) and arts administration (2016).

Other Flagler College volunteer boards include the Business Advisory Board, Hospitality and Tourism, LEAD Fund, Parents Leadership Council, Women of Vision, Alumni Board, Saints Club Advisory Board and the recently-created Science Advisory Board.

This board is a unique mix of arts patrons, active community members, parents of Flagler students and alumni. However, the board continues to seek individuals to fill out all areas of Visual and Performing Arts. If you are interested in learning more about how you can be part of this pivotal role in the development of Flagler students’ professional and academic interests, please reach out. Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement by calling 904.819.6240 or by emailing Kerri Carlyon at

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