Take a look at the impact and growth FCAL has had since its start in 1978.
Fourteen artists came together in 1978 with a mission to create an art community in Flagler County. Now, 40 years later, the Flagler County Art League has over 450 members, including a board of directors, artists, art lovers and volunteers.
When Thea M. Hein-Mathen became one of the founding members of FCAL, she was a 22-year-old returning home after studying art history at the University of Florida.
“I was fresh out of college and didn’t know what direction to go,” Hein-Mathen said.
FCAL guided her during her first few years back in Flagler County, as the group met once a month to talk technique, show their work and create an arts community.
“Flagler County definitely needed a club,” she said. “There was nothing here. There were all these people moving in that had all these varied interests, as you can see now. Back then, there was just a number of us that were just into art, period. It was the be-all and end-all kind of thing.”
FCAL’s current president, Ann DeLucia, has been involved with the art league since moving to Flagler County in 2004.
“For 30 years, we were homeless; we were gypsies,” DeLucia said. “We would have two shows a year at the Community Center. We would have workshops maybe four times a year at the Hammock Community Center.”
In 2008, FCAL was given use of a second-floor classroom in the brand-new Matanzas High School building for one year. After the student population grew, the league moved to rent a storefront on Old Kings Road. In 2010, the league began renting a space in City Marketplace, where it’s still located today at 160 Cypress Point Parkway, Suite 207C.
“That’s when we really became the family that comes here every day, that comes here for classes once a week, that volunteers and does things like membership and website and all that,” DeLucia said.
DeLucia said there were 150 members when the nonprofit moved into City Market Place. With over 450 members now, she said FCAL has proved it has longevity and a tenacity to continue growing.
“The value is we have an opportunity for people to know the arts are important, that they can participate in the arts, that they can come and see art done by their friends and community members, that we can go out and promote the arts to the business world and say these are economic benefits to you,” DeLucia said.
Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland said there is a direct tie between cultural opportunities for residents and economic development strategy.
“When we’re talking about how we’re attracting different types of companies or different businesses to open their doors in our community, they always want to know what the quality of life is,” Holland said. “And that quality of life, oftentimes, means what type of opportunities are afforded to us to be able to go out and enjoy an evening of events, to have our creative juices flowing through different organizations.”
FCAL focuses not only on giving opportunities to local artists, but also on inspiring the next generation of painters, sculptors and photographers. FCAL holds an annual high school art show to recognize local talent from Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas high schools.
“It definitely fosters the creative minds within our students, within our youth,” Holland said. “I know that they’ve captured a lot of local talent that have gone on to do extraordinary things outside of our boundaries. It’s a sense of pride for us.”
DeLucia said FCAL’s next goal is to own — not just rent — a space to call home. She said the county needs an arts council that would be responsible for getting grants for the visual arts community.
She voiced her concern that FCAL is underserved by the county and city financially, and that support from both levels in the future would help FCAL obtain its own property.
“I know, for myself, we’re always looking for opportunities to collaborate and coordinate, in particular, with the organizations that are housed here in Palm Coast,” Holland said. “I look forward to having those conversations not only in the near future, but over the years, so (FCAL) can continue to grow.”