Everything Starts at the Center

By: Press Release
Mixed Arts
Everything Starts at the Center

“Let the Magic Begin.”

That was our message when we opened in March 2008. After years of negotiations, renovations, new construction, and building public awareness, the only thing left to do was to open our front doors and let the magic happen.

The first spark of magic for the Center began several years prior through a unique partnership between Hillsborough County and the Friends of Carrollwood Cultural Center (FCCC), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for residents through arts and culture. Together, the county and the FCCC worked to renovate St. Mark’s Episcopal Church into the creative center it is today.

Photo by: Carrollwood Center - Rainbow, Sun & Moon, Stars & Stripes

Located in the heart of Carrollwood Village, the campus includes a 26,000 sq. ft. main building complete with a stage, dance floor, art studios, computer lab, and conference rooms as well as a sister building, The Studio, with additional space for classes, performances, room rentals, and gallery displays.

However, when we opened in 2008, there was no gallery. No outdoor sculpture. No sound system. No theatre lights. No concessions. No monthly market.

What we did have was a supportive county, community, and dedicated volunteers led by a spirited board of directors. 

We were in a beautiful building surrounded by stark arctic-white walls with one painting on display, perched on a bronze easel in our lobby. Over the years, the Gallery at Carrollwood Cultural Center has grown to include several mini-galleries, with proper gallery lighting, allowing us to exhibit several shows at one time.

The Glass Menagerie - Photo Credit: Chaz-D-Photography

When we first opened, you could eat off the art room floor. Clean without a speck of paint on them. We would jokingly encourage students to allow drips and splatter to happen. After years of hosting visual art classes, the dried paint on the floor has turned into a work of art of its own. Even the ceilings are painted! Completed pieces created by young campers, making the Center a place for arts education, from the ground up – literally. For 15 years, the art rooms, pottery studio, music lab, and dance studio have hosted students of all ages and skill levels, led by an impressive team of instructors.

Shortly after opening, we received a Shigeru Kawai grand piano, which was beautifully displayed on the wooden stage of our Main Theatre. The stage was unmarked, showing no signs of life. Now our stage resembles that of a working theatre, with markings that tell stories as entertaining as the performers who perform here, such as jazz musicians, thespians, dancers, tribute bands, and classical musicians. 

We always knew that affordable rental space was needed for groups and special events in north Tampa. Knowing the Center could help meet the demand, we put procedures in place to rent out parts of the facility. We have had the opportunity to host many special events: 50th-anniversary parties, office parties, birthday parties, memorial services, piano recitals, music festivals, and outdoor markets... we have even hosted a bodybuilding contest!

Photo by: Carrollwood Center

Our opening team had four people. Now our staff is 15 strong. Hardworking people who, with the help of the community, have built every aspect of the Center from the ground up. 

The Carrollwood Cultural Center is much more than a building. It’s the place where strangers become friends and friends become family.


Above all, it’s a place where a community came together to prove—and continue to prove–that ordinary citizens can, through their labors and generosity, determine the culture of the place in which they live out their lives.

Click here for the Cultural Events Calendar.

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