Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Benoit Glazer and The Timucua Arts Foundation has been providing world class art and music to the Orlando community free of charge for a long while. In 2007 Benoit built a custom home that was built around an acoustically perfect music hall with two levels of balconies overlooking the stage. The living room concert venue is completely soundproof so that neighbors never hear the music. Dozens of performances happen each year, most of them free of charge. Guests bring wine and food to the venue for each concert which cultivates a true sense of a community potluck. The Timucua Arts Foundation, is a benefactor to cutting edge music organizations like the Accidental Music Festival and the Civic Minded 5. The White House has established itself as a culture beacon for the Central Florida Music scene.
The home is in an area zoned for residential use, so the Orlando Municipal Planning Board demanded that Benoit apply for a conditional use permit. That type of permit is typically issued when the city wants to allow an activity beneficial to the community despite zoning restrictions. Without the permit, one of the most enlightened cultural lights in Orlando would be be extinguished. An online petition was established to try and save the White House. Over one hundred people signed it in the first hour. In all 832 people signed the petition.
At 8:30am on April 19th, Benoit and his wife Elaine Corrivev, sat in the City Counsel Chambers to hear the Planning Board's verdict. The Chambers were packed full of supporters for this home spun cultural institution. Jeremy Seghers sat in the row in front of me and Diana Rodriguez Portillo sat next to me to chat. There were so many friends of the arts in the room. The chair, Jason Searl, said he had to abstain from the vote since his little daughter takes piano lessons at the Benoit's house. He clearly couldn't be impartial. With in a matter of minutes, the Conditional Use Permit was granted. There was an audible sigh of relief and then most of the people in the room got up to leave. Exited conversations began and the celebration continued just outside the chamber doors. The concerts will continue with some conditions: Glazer will have to formalize a parking agreement with the city for use of nearby spaces at Wadeview Park, limit attendance to 99 guests and guarantee events end by 10:30 p.m. In some small measure, the bureaucrats won, but music and art will continue to shine at the White House.
This, we believe:
Art and music belong to everyone.
Art and music are the highest manifestation of our humanity.
Art and music should be enjoyed in the most intimate venue: the living room.
Every community is better when art and music are performed and nurtured within it.