Gainesville Arts & Parks Foundation debuts with local event

With music, cooking demos, a book-signing and more, the Gainesville, Florida Arts & Parks (GAP) Foundation invites the public to its premiere event Friday, Jan. 8 from 6-8 p.m. at Gainesville’s Historic Thomas Center at 302 NE Sixth Ave.

Among the events planned are a silent auction, tree giveaways, and live musical entertainment by Expressions Learning Arts Academy students. Local chef Bert Gill will do a cooking demonstration and sign his new book, “Pickled, Fried and Fresh."

GAP was formed last year as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to bolster the City of Gainesville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department (PRCA), advocating for fundraising to help realize the PRCA’s master plan potential.

“Gainesville has so much to offer in the way of the arts, recreation and parks,”  Augi Lye, GAP Foundation president, said. “Our mission is to support PRCA and to make Gainesville a world class community of arts and parks.”

PRCA director Steve Phillips noted that despite past budget cuts and lower tax appropriations, the department has been able to maintain service levels with decreased staffing. ”Now that there is an ally to help fill the gap, we believe the community will see major changes over time with facility enhancements, and more staff to implement new and expanded programs,” he said.

Five individuals serve on the GAP Foundation board of directors in addition to Lye: Susan Bottcher, Thomas Hawkins (secretary), Stephanie Mickle, Albert White (treasurer) and Dr. Steven Yucht (vice president).

“The GAP Foundation will have the ability to apply directly to private foundations for funding where local governments are not eligible,” Phillips said. “In addition, as community leaders, the board of directors brings unmatched passion for advancing art, parks and recreation throughout Gainesville.”

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