Hundreds attend Fitton Center’s season launch event

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

HAMILTON — The Fitton Center for Creative Arts made splash in the community with an array of arts performances and activities Friday as guests of all ages turned out for the annual Season Launch “Summer Party” event.

“We have some incredible shows happening this year for the 2022-2023 season. There are so many exciting things to see and do here at the Fitton Center, and we would love to have you join us,” said Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center as he welcomed guests to the party.

I’m excited about the community coming back to the Fitton Center, he said.

“Seeing all these familiar faces, seeing brand new faces, and all that energy is coming right back into the Fitton Center. We haven’t had that for three years now, and it’s so exciting to see that support and community involvement right here at the Fitton Center,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

The open house-style Season Launch event provided attendees with an opportunity to experience everything the Fitton Center has to offer.

“People were getting here around 4:30 p.m. I think we saw 400 to 500 people in the first 45 minutes. It’s been wonderful,” he said.

Every gallery, studio and classroom as well as performance, rehearsal and event spaces were open for guests to enjoy and explore. There was even a selfie station complete with a kiddie pool, lawn chair and Fitton Center backdrop, so guests could remember how much fun they had during the “Summer Party.”

Mark and Rita McCormack, of West Chester are “big fans of the arts” and they heard about the event through word-of-mouth.

“We’ve always supported the arts. We have season tickets to the Aronoff Center. We have season tickets to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. I believe that people need to support the arts, because that is where creativity is stemmed into the society,” said Rita McCormack.

She said, “It’s so cool to see all the creativity. It’s wonderful to see kids being encouraged to be who they are, and I think it’s awesome.”

In addition to an open house, the evening’s highlights included live music by the Marty Connor Band, a gallery opening for “Cut Fire Fuse,” Fitton Center’s latest art exhibition as well as a preview of what’s in store for the 2022-2023 season of performances, exhibitions and events.

There were performances throughout the evening by the Fitton Center’s Improv Class, Art in Motion School of Dance, Performing Arts Inc. and the Golden Tappers.

Guests also experienced class demonstrations in the art studios, including mosaics and ceramics as well as a variety of hands-on activities for attendees of all ages.

“I love the Season Launch event at the Fitton Center. It’s one of my favorite things of the year, because it’s all this stuff that’s going on that’s artistic, and everybody comes together, and frankly, I’ve missed that the last few years,” said Billy Simms, an instructor at the Fitton Center.

Simms is an award-winning comics artist and MFA student in studio art at Miami University. He has 17 years of teaching experience working with students from age three to adult. He lives in Hamilton and teachers comics, printmaking, and at the Fitton Center’s Summer Camps.

“I’m excited to come in here and share the artwork with people, and just let people see what we’re doing. It’s wonderful,” Simms said.

Connie Spurlock, a Hamilton resident, volunteer and art student at the Fitton Center said this year, they have even more things to do. She wanted to come to the event to find out more about what is being offered this upcoming season.

“I wanted to come tonight, because I like to see all the new things they are going to have. I’ve taken ceramic classes, and I’ve taken the mosaic classes. I try to take a little of everything because they have such a great variety,” said Connie Spurlock.

She said in addition to taking classes, she enjoys coming to the “Celebrating Self” luncheons with her friends.

Wendy Waters-Connell, CEO and executive director of YWCA Hamilton, who was in attendance on Friday night, said the arts are an integral part of the community.

“Art is reflection of culture and culture is a reflection of values, and we are a community that supports one another in all of the color and spaces of the community,” Waters-Connell said.

Based on their interests, some of the YWCA residents have had an opportunity to experience classes at the Fitton Center.

“Art heals,” said Waters-Connell. “We’ve had residents paint their pain and their recovery.”

The event created an excitement around the Fitton Center’s 2022-2023 season, which will open with three events in September including a “Celebrating Self” with Jovante Woods Foundation featuring former Bengal Ickey Woods on Sept. 7. the return of Just Strange Brothers band on Sept. 10 as part of the Fitton Showstoppers! series with “Burning Down the House,” featuring the hits of Talking Heads and a “Fitton Family Fridays” performance of “Digging Up Dessa” by Lexington Children’s Theatre on Sept. 23.

Other season highlights will include “A Motown Christmas” on Dec. 10 at as Vince and the Fellas bring the holiday music of the Jackson 5, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles to the Fitton Center stage and a “Nashville Writer’s Round” featuring Chris Gelbuda on Apr. 15.

Plus, there will be a special “New Year’s Eve” event in the Carruthers Signature Ballroom on Dec. 31, starting at 8 p.m. Guests can hear live music from the River City Band, enjoy drinks and stroll the galleries.

The season will continue through May of 2023 close with a Murder Mystery Night “Prohibition Murder!” on May 20.

For a complete schedule of programming, events and classes, visit or pick up a copy of the season brochure at the Fitton Center.

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