United Arts of Central Florida (Website) is set to implement an innovative new arts initiative in partnership with the Downtown Development Board/CRA, to provide “excellent arts experiences every day within the downtown, free to the public, both day and night, weekdays, and weekends.”

According to CRA board minutes, the DDB will provide funding in the amount of $1,189,000 to United Arts to oversee a new program that will activate downtown with experiences that focus on public spaces, sidewalks, storefronts, and buildings with input from the DDB.

United Arts staff will be expected to work with property owners and businesses to coordinate activities and cross-promotional opportunities and increase access to the arts for all people. The program also calls for at least 25% of all performances or installations that are funded be created by women or minority artists or businesses.

We spoke with DDB executive director David Barilla who told us that the initiative is something he’s really excited to see kicking off very soon.

“Gears are already turning – Jennifer [Evins] is bringing on one full-time person and a half-time person to manage the program, effective immediately. A ramp-up period with calls for proposals is set to go live over the next 90 days with some early activations set to launch within that same time period.”


When asked why invite United Arts downtown when there are already a number of local organizations downtown tasked with similar missions like the Downtown Orlando Partnership, the Downtown Arts District, and City District Main Street, Barilla was quick to answer.

“Everybody mutually agreed that United Arts was a better fit to spearhead it than anyone else, because of their broader reach to the region and not just downtown. DAD will still be a significant partner of the program and will have a number of offerings that are available under the program.”


Barilla says that he expects over 850 experiences to be programmed in downtown Orlando over the year as part of the new initiative. People will see activations throughout the day to help encourage people to stay and linger downtown into the early hours of the evening as well as more immersive/holistic art programming to keep people engaged. Barilla called it a “… full arts integration in Downtown Orland and bring some needed changes to downtown culture.”

We will share more specifics on the programming efforts as that information becomes public.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of Bungalower.com

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  1. I am a huge supporter and want to emphasize the importance of supporting LIVE MUSIC downtown. Everybody loves good live music, right?