CAP Celebrates a Year of Expansion

CAP marked the close of its 30th anniversary yearlong celebration and unprecedented expansion of the organization with performances by the CAP String Orchestra, Brookview Elementary School Chorus and Springfield Middle School Majorettes at the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at James Weldon Johnson Park on December 6, 2023. The performances began at 5 p.m.

CAP students with City Council President Dr. Ron Salem at the James Weldon Johnson Park tree lighting.

CAP kicked off its 30th anniversary in January, and the year has been marked by impactful growth and the notable acquisition of Connecting Thru Music (CTM), further solidifying CAP’s role in empowering creative spirits. CAP also began the 2023-2024 school year proudly welcoming 1,750 students in 152 programs at 59 program sites, the most programs and sites in one year in the history of the organization.

“This year marks a significant chapter in CAP’s story, one characterized by remarkable growth and collaboration, thanks to the dedication of our team and the generous spirit of our community,” reflected President & CEO Rev. Kimberly L. Hyatt. “Now more than ever, children and young people need access to quality arts education and therapeutic services. The milestones we’ve achieved together in our 30th year will set the foundation for future generations to experience the transformative power of arts education.”

CAP President & CEO The Rev. Kimberly Hyatt with students at the 2023 Performing Arts Showcase.

The transition from its longstanding model of a large roster of part-time teaching artists this year accelerated this growth. CAP has built a growing team of full-time teaching artist fellows who are able to teach more programs throughout the year, thereby reaching more students. No other organization in the country uses this unique model to leverage such far-ranging outcomes. This model has enabled CAP to introduce arts integration curriculum and instruction at eight schools blending an art form with a core academic subject including dance with math, theatre with literacy, and visual arts with science.

The acquisition of the music therapy nonprofit Connecting Thru Music, a milestone completed September 12, represents a strategic expansion of CAP’s services to address unmet community needs for children and young adults with disabilities through music therapy. CAP also reinstated its Arts for Justice-Involved Youth program, serving 14 young men between the ages of 12 and 17 at the John E. Goode Pre-Trial Detention Facility who are jailed while awaiting trial.

Providing access to new opportunities for exposure to the arts has been at the forefront of the organization’s expansion. A new program that was piloted this year is the Arts Field Trip Initiative. Through CAP’s work with Florida Data Science for Social Good (FL-DSSG) at the University of North Florida, data showed that even one field trip experience to a cultural destination like a museum or theatre drastically improves student grades in literacy, math and science. On June 20, 2,270 children and chaperones from Duval County Public Schools registered to see Doug Berky’s Gems: The World’s Wisdom Stories at the Florida Theatre and received reading materials to enhance the field trip experience and address literacy development. Working with a group of invested community partners, the pilot was a resounding success. CAP is working on a public-private partnership with the goal of expanding the opportunity to every DCPS student.

Florida Theatre Interior

In June 2023, CAP piloted the Arts Field Trip Initiative, inviting children in Duval County Public Schools to see a performance at the Florida Theatre.

“CAP continues to raise the bar when it comes to providing quality arts education and the opportunity for children to ignite that creative spark within,” said CAP Board Chair Mark LaBorde. “We have grown exponentially over the past 30 years, and with this momentum we will work toward fulfilling our mission in service of generations to come.”

It has also proven to be an exceptional year for fundraising for the organization. CAP’s signature fundraising event, Spring for the Arts, raised a record-breaking $805,449 in support of arts education for children and youth in Northeast Florida. It was the most money raised in the 18-year history of the event, underscoring the community’s strong support for its mission

CAP was founded in 1993 by Gail Weltsek and her son along with a small group of volunteers at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Jacksonville. It began with just one dance class for 10 children who lived in a nearby transitional housing facility. Within three years, the organization began to include dance programs at area elementary schools, and in 2000 it received its 501(c)(3) designation. Today, the organization has provided over 33,000 students, primarily living in under-resourced communities in Duval County, with professional arts education in art as therapy, dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts. Its work extends beyond Northeast Florida having garnered a national reputation for its innovative programs and collective impact work in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

To support CAP’s year-end fundraising efforts, click here.