Center for Gulf Coast Folklife

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The City of Tarpon Springs’ Center for Gulf Coast Folklife focuses on local, Gulf Coast region, and Florida folklife through exhibits, festivals, performances, workshops, and other programming founded in ethnographic research.  Our mission is to identify, document, present, and preserve our unique traditional culture.

The Center for Gulf Coast Folklife is composed of several key components:

  • Walk Tarpon Springs – Developed with a Florida Humanities Council grant, this free app will take you on a narrated, self-guided tour of 10 stops in the Greektown Historic District—with historical images and music.
  • Folklife Gallery – The Folklife Gallery offers both original and traveling exhibitions that interpret state and regional folk culture. Exhibits have included Greek Music in America, photographic exhibits of the Greek community, Latin American Folklife in Florida, African American Folk Arts, Sacred Arts, and more.  The Gallery is located in the Cultural Center, 101 S. Pinellas Avenue.
  • Folklife Workshops preserve significant local traditions by making the skills and knowledge more available to the community.  We have offered an active schedule of workshops in Greek bouzouki, violin, and other instruments; Latin and Greek dance; ethnic cuisine—and other traditional arts.
  • Night in the Islands re-creates the atmosphere of the Greek islands with outdoor dining on the Sponge Docks, performances by outstanding musical groups, and Greek social dancing.  Since 2010, it has been an important community event—bringing together local audiences and visitors of all ages to enjoy Greek music and dance monthly from April through October.
  • Salsa on the Sponge Docks – We partner with Richard del Rio/Florida Best Promotions to present the major Latin music/dance event in North Pinellas County.
  • Greek Community Documentation Project – The Greek Community Documentation Project collects, documents, and preserves the distinctive cultural heritage of Tarpon Springs’ Greek community, and educates the public about it though interpretive websites, programs, and exhibitions.  The collection includes images, recordings, archival materials, and artifacts that reflect social, cultural and historical aspects of the community.
  • Occasional Festivals and Events – These have included the Gulf Maritime Festival, Gulf Coast Folklife Festival, and various concerts of music and dance.
  • Historic Preservation – We conducted research and then successfully nominated the Tarpon Springs Greektown Historical District as Florida’s first designated Traditional Cultural Property. We also successfully nominated our local African American cemetery, Rose Hill Cemetery, and will nominate Cycadia Cemetery in late 2017.

We recognize Tarpon Springs’ traditional artists through nominations for the Florida Folklife Program’s awards and programs or the National Heritage Fellowship.  The Florida Folk Heritage Award recognizes lifelong contributions and excellence in traditional arts, while the Folklife Apprenticeship Program provides promising  students the opportunity to study with master traditional artists.  See http://dos.myflorida.com/historical/preservation/florida-folklife-program/ for more information about these programs.

  • Florida Folk Heritage Award – Tarpon Springs recipients include William “Billy the Kid” Emerson, John Lulias, Anastasios Karistinos, George Soffos, George Saroukos, Nicholas Toth, George Katsaros, Nikitas Tsimouris, & John Gianaros.
  • Folklife Apprenticeship Program – Local recipients/master artists have included Leonidas Zafiris/bouzouki, George Soffos/bouzouki, Spiros Skordilis/bouzouki, & Antonios Leros/diving helmets.
  • National Heritage Fellowship – Local recipients of this award from the National Endowment for the Arts include Nicholas Toth & Nikitas Tsimouris.

Please call 727-937-1130 or 727-942-5605 for more information. The Center for Gulf Coast Folklife is funded in part with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Folk & Traditional Arts Program and the Florida Humanities Council.

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