First City Arts Center Brings the Arts Community Together

First City Art Center continues to offer opportunities to get involved in the crafting community

First City Art Center is all about engaging the community through a broad array of workshops, classes, exhibits, camps, and events all aimed towards getting their hands dirty with some sort of art. Whether it’s glass blowing or glass bead making, sculpture or pottery, painting or drawing, the nonprofit continues to keep the calendar packed with artistic opportunities, many of which are ideal for snowbirds and other out-of-towners who want to get into the local mix when visiting Pensacola. First City Art Center Interim Executive Director Ben Twingley recently spoke with us about the many activities the organization has to enjoy whether you’re local or visiting for a weekend, a week, or a month.

Q: The organization offers so many ways to learn about the arts and get hands-on. What are the options offered by the organization?

A: We have a wide range of classes and workshops that range from beginners through seasoned practitioners in a wide range of media including glass, pottery, ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, and other visual arts. We have a thriving summer camp and youth arts program throughout the year. Along with all of those offerings, we provide outreach programs like our mobile glass studio, which we take to different events within the community and even to schools.

Q: What’s something unique about the organization?

A: We have one of the largest community access glass studios on the Gulf Coast. It’s a place people can come to experience a myriad of ways to make art with glass, including glass blowing and glass sculpting. Another big program for us is our ceramics program because we have a really vibrant and nationally recognized ceramics studio. Our community of clay artists is diverse and growing. It serves as a place for locals and visitors alike to build their skills.

Q: What are some of the other ways to check out the organization?

A: We have two big events during the year, both are fundraisers that directly go to support the art center as the money is pumped back into the programming. The first event is Hot Glass Cold Brew, which we haven’t hosted since the pandemic began but we’re planning to host it this spring. The tentative date is May 6, and it features live glassblowing and ceramic demonstrations. Attendees receive a cup—all of which are unique and handmade—that they can take home and while here use to have a beer or soft drink. We typically have live music during the event and we’ll have some food trucks this year.

The other big event is the annual Glass and Ceramic Pumpkin Patch, which is held in October and features the work of more than 40 local artists. The event draws thousands of people each year. Last year we had 6,500 glass and ceramic handmade pumpkins for sale. This year the Pumpkin Patch is scheduled for October 8 and is truly our biggest event of the year. It not only supports our organization but more than 40 local artists selling their work while spreading the word about what we do at First City Art Center.