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PANAMA CITY – A local organization is giving the community a night to remember with a unique art and culinary event.

The Cultural Hub of Northwest Florida will open its gallery doors to the public on Aug.12 for its exhibit, Local Flavor: An Artists Reception and Potluck Event. Community members are invited to explore the new exhibit and permanent collection while participating in a public potluck at The Gallery of Art, 36 W. Beach Drive, from 6-8 p.m.

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Starlett Miller-Massey, executive director and CEO of the Cultural Hub, said this is the first public event the organization will hold since its inception in 2019.

“We want to help connect artists and local businesses, especially with rebuilding communities from Hurricane Michael,” said Miller-Massey. “Panama City had a thriving arts scene before the storm and we want to help bring that back to our community.”

The exhibit features work from four local artists: Tesa Burch, Carl Webb, Kim Griffin-White and Mark White. The four work in a variety of mediums, including oils, found materials, reclaimed wood, collage, assemblage, acrylics and more. Their current works include themes of American history, still life, portraiture, Southern regional art, American music legends, the African-American diaspora and Afrofuturism.

Burch, also the Cultural Hub’s program director, emphasized the importance of how showcasing local works in galleries affects artists’ careers.

“Musicians need a place to showcase and present their work throughout the year, and it’s important for organizations like this to provide an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work and create a career for themselves,” said Burch.

To add a touch of flair to the event, guests are invited to participate in a potluck and offer a shared drink or dish of food to show off their culinary skills. Burch said he hopes the potluck brings a unique tie to the event and that people can make organic connections.

“Potlucks help build deeper relationships between community members,” Burch said. “They can change cities with their relationship to culture and food, and we hope that art and good food will unite the movers and shakers in the art community.”

The Cultural Hub of Northwest Florida is a non-profit organization owned by Hummingbird Events that aims to develop artists and artists to promote community healing and resilience. As a non-profit, Cultural Hub is a force in the development of art and art education in the region of Panama.

Miller-Massey continues the legacy of her late father, Maxwell Miller, the founder of the Cultural Hub, to continue leading the organization to support local artists.

“I wanted to continue my father’s work because we believe that local artists and the arts scene will thrive and be a great asset to the community as it grows and rebuilds,” said Miller-Massey. “We’re seeing a lot of exciting things happening in Panama City, and we look forward to donating the resources we have to help support local artists.”

With the rise of the Cultural Hub in the area, there is more to come as the organization plans to host art exhibitions, workshops and events. Miller-Massey said as the salon grows, she hopes to soon be able to open regularly to the public and begin regular business hours.

“There is a need for more art spaces in Panama City, and this trip has been interesting because the more pictures you have, the more artists can be recognized,” he said. “I think emerging artists create a cohesive community and we want to bring more of that artistic energy to our community.”

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