UCF Celebrates the Arts, UCF’s annual festival showcasing creativity, artistic innovation and partnerships, was awarded a 2022 Golden Brick award from the Downtown Orlando Partnership (DOP). Award recipients in 15 categories were recognized at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Steinmetz Hall on May 2 for positively impacting downtown Orlando. UCF Celebrates the Arts won in the category of Arts & Culture.

The annual Golden Brick Awards were created by DOP to celebrate projects that contribute to making downtown Orlando a more exciting, diverse and appealing place to live and work. Since its creation in 2015, UCF Celebrates the Arts has brought thousands of guests to Doctor Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando for a two-week showcase of UCF’s talented artists, performers, thinkers and community partners.

Jeff Moore, dean of the UCF College of Arts and Humanities, first developed the festival as an opportunity for student artistic development. Since then, he says, it has become a cornerstone of the Central Florida cultural community.

“UCF Celebrates the Arts was conceived as an opportunity for our students and faculty — who lack performance spaces on campus — to perform in world-class facilities alongside guest artists and our community partners,” Moore says. “But over the years, it has evolved into much more than that: the annual festival has become a place for the community to gather and witness the massive talent that the university is preparing for local, state and national creative leadership. While the festival is creating a vibrant Orlando today, these students are in training to ensure the vitality of our region for decades to come.”

This year, UCF Celebrates the Arts hosted 39 free and low-cost events from April 2-15, creating an accessible space for community members of all ages to learn and experience something new, from concerts and lectures to interactive visual arts displays.

Michael Wainstein, director of the School of Performing Arts at UCF and producer of UCF Celebrates the Arts, says that the festival emphasizes accessibility to ensure an enriching experience for all members of the community.

“One of the things we are very conscious of is access. We are always asking, ‘How can we better serve Central Florida?’” Wainstein says. “In 2022, we hosted a field trip performance of Shrek. A few years back we hosted a concert for prenatal babies and newborns. This year a highlight was an inclusive concert designed specifically for kids who would benefit from accommodation — of any kind — to attend. These are the audiences our students need to learn to serve to be successful in their careers and this is one of the ways UCF can help serve our community.”

UCF Celebrates the Arts gives students the platform to develop skills to lead the future generation of Orlando’s arts community. Through its commitment to accessibility and community engagement, the festival hopes to contribute to the cultural vitality of Central Florida for years to come.