Veterans in Art Program

Do you know about the Veterans in Art (VIA) program launched three years ago at The Hub on Canal? VIA serves our wounded warriors and disabled veterans by offering art and music programs through VIA scholarships. Since VIA’s inception, we have served more than 13 veterans with art and music classes of their choice. Perhaps you heard about The Hub’s VIA program at our music night events in November on or around Veterans Day, where we honor our veterans. Our veteran band always draws a big crowd and the featured artwork of participating veterans provides a showcase for their talents. Moreover, the veterans music event highlights how the arts are contributing to the recovery of veterans struggling with challenges like PTSD.

The VIA story continues. Last year, in partnership with the Veterans Administration resource and recovery center in Port Orange, we joined with other organizations in Volusia county to create an online listing of art and music programs offered to area veterans. Through this collaboration we learned about the desire to provide more access to music as a path to recovery. To fill that need, David Maib, a VIA volunteer at The Hub, and Dr. Tracii Kunkel from the Veterans Center in Port Orange began the process of creating a local chapter of the national organization Guitars for Vets (G4V). Through the local chapter The Hub now provides practice guitars and lessons to more than 16 local area veterans. The first group lessons began this past July and the demand has grown rapidly from one to four group lessons per week. The following is a blog from the Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach Guitars for Vets Facebook page. I think it tells it all:

Guitars for Vets chapters differ a bit on how they run, largely based on available resources. In the VA, space is probably the most valuable and scarce resource we have, and to get access to a group room can be a challenge. We are blessed here to have access to not only one room, but multiple that allow us to have 2-3 groups running at once. We also have many caring and qualified musicians with the time and desire to volunteer to provide instruction, and community support. As such, we have been able to structure a program based on how I like to teach guitar – integrating music theory as one is learning the mechanics of guitar playing. I tell veterans in the program that “We are training MUSICIANS, you just happen to be using the guitar as your voice right now.” Most veterans enter the group format and remain there until they have the basics of the mechanics and the knowledge, then go into personalized individual lessons to “fine tune and push forward” in a direction they want to pursue. I am constantly looking for ideas to improve how we can teach, and often have videos running in the background while doing other things. Today I caught this one, which captures what we are trying to do and why perfectly.

Now that you know the story, I’m sure you are wondering how you can help. Here are ways to help us grow this wonderful program in support of our local veterans:

  1. 1.Donate your (or your father’s, mother’s, neighbor’s) used acoustic guitars to The Hub for use in the G4V program.
  2. 2.Go to the G4V Facebook page, Port Orange/New Smyrna Beach Guitars for Vets, and make a donation.
  3. 3.Or the best way – join us on Memorial Day, Sunday, May 26 from 2-6 pm at The Hub on Canal for our Guitars for Vets fundraiser. 

The Hub on Canal 3rd Annual Student Film Festival

The Hub on Canal Announces the Second Round of Judging for Student Films

The Hub on Canal is proud to announce that it has completed the first round of judging for the student film festival film entries submitted by high school students throughout Volusia County.

Twelve students are invited to participate in the Phase 2 judging process on Saturday, February 16 at The Hub on Canal at 9am.  These students will provide an overview of their films and answer questions from the judges’ panel.  The film panel is comprised of six film industry professionals including directors, scriptwriters, producers, cinematographers, directors, and college professors.


Tyler McClendon, Justin Mahone, & Nathan McKinney – Ava
(Group, New Smyrna Beach High School)

Isabel Mannino, Sabrina Testerman, Cierra Harris – Decisions
(Group, Deltona High School)

Phillip Schwoerer & Jakob Niswonger –Hunted
(Group, New Smyrna Beach High School)

Julia Messick, Emma Dominguez, Ryan Wiener, & Lexi Brandt – Nothing’s Easy
(Group, Spruce Creek High School)

Marc Nusser & Sammy Valchar – The Dangers of DHMO
(Group, University High School)

Christopher Brown, Andrew Cabot, Christopher Santiago, & Kasey Knox – The Witness
(Group, Deland High School)

Jesse Nash & Joseph Rosario – You and Me
(Group, Deltona High School)


Sophia Abolfathi – Dead Art
(Individual, Deland High School)

Joebal John Haresco – Dreams Are Real
(Individual, New Smyrna Beach High School)

Lucas Marrero – Hackboi
(Individual, Deland High School)

Phoenix Smith – Tales of the Heart
(Individual, New Smyrna Beach High School)

Luis Renteria – We Are Who We Are
(Individual, Deland High School) 


What: Phase 2 Judging for selected students– verbal presentation and question and answer. 

Where: The Hub on Canal, 132 Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach, FL

When: Saturday, February 16, at 9:00am.  

*Students will be called in alphabetical order.  

Attire:  Business Casual

Expectations: Selected students will have an opportunity to provide a 2-minute verbal overview (no visuals) of their film project and to answer any judge’s questions. 

Note:  This is an opportunity to receive feedback from judges and to improve their final score.  Students who cannot attend the event will not receive a lowered score for non-attendance.

Additional Note:  Any student (and their family) who has been invited to participate in Phase 2 judging is strongly encouraged to attend the Private Awards Ceremony at 6pm on February 28th at The Hub on Canal.  Teachers may attend the event as well.

Written by Vicki White, Director of Outreach and Grants for The Hub on Canal

Susan Ellis Speaks for The Hub on Canal at Coastal Community Resiliency Meeting

The City of New Smyrna Beach continued their monthly workshop series, Coastal Community Resiliency, on June 19 with a session devoted to our local economy. Hub founder and volunteer, Susan Ellis, representing The Hub on Canal.  Below is the text from Susan’s speech.

“In 2006 and 7 there was a housing boom…and in 2008 the recession hit Florida hard.  It was especially bad in Volusia County – one of the areas that ranked highest in the entire nation for foreclosures.  In 2010 unemployment numbers in Volusia County were 12.8 compared to the national average of 9.8.

In New Smyrna Beach the economy suffered. About one third of Canal St was empty.  Businesses closed, properties were for sale or rent…the Downtown took a beating.

At the 2008 Florida Mayors Convention the idea of bringing art and artists to depressed areas was talked about.  Cities desperate to get rid of blight made empty buildings available to artists…allowing breaks on regulations and restrictions and in some cases donating buildings to arts groups.   There was some success.  Figures showed that by investing in the arts and artists, a community received a return of $7million on a $1million investment.

In 2012 Sally Mackay, Susan Stern and I opened an art space on Canal Street, The Hub on Canal, right in the downtown with empty buildings up and down the street.

Our goal was to help bring Canal Street back to life – put feet on the street and have lights on at night.  We wanted to join with the other merchants on Canal St. and The Canal Street Historic District who had been working hard to preserve this unique, delightful downtown.  We wanted to offer studio space for artists to work and our community a place to create, learn and come together.

We collected a whopping $23,000 from our friends, neighbors and the community to get us started.  There were detractors and skeptics but we gained community support, artist support and government support, City and County.  With Tony Otte’s encouragement we secured a three-year rental-assistance grant from the CRA…and signed a three-year lease on 11,000 sq. feet at 132 Canal St.

Since opening as a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit in 2012, we have welcomed over 200,000 visitors.  We have sold over $785,000 worth of art representing the work of more than 180 Central Florida artists.  The Hub on Canal is open seven days a week and hosts over 60 events per year and we have more than 600 members.  In the last three years we have taught more than 2,800 classes and workshops for children and adults on everything from conversational French to building robots.

The Hub networks whenever it can…with ACA, Arts on Douglas, Artists Workshop, The CSHD, Gallery 120, with local businesses and with the City,  Images, the music festivals …anything to share the costs and keep the visitors coming.  Canal Street and the Arts District are growing a national and international reputation, and we are known throughout Central Florida.

Every time you come Downtown you strengthen our Local Economy.  You help to keep this town alive and well….strong enough to be sustainable…strong enough to be unique.

And it is you that wants to keep our town the way it is…to retain its unique charm and sense of history…and so far there has been real progress.

There is a life and energy on Canal St that cannot be denied. Restaurants, galleries and businesses have opened.  We have The Brannon Center and the Tabby Houses.  The Utilities Building has had an amazing facelift.   Terry Jane England is soon to begin construction on “Jane’s” a gallery and studio at Magnolia and Downing.  The CSHD is more organized than ever in their efforts to design offerings that will encompass the businesses along Canal Street.  We are working to promote our emerging Arts District.

This energy, this commitment, is essential to the identity and sustainability of NSB.  Our Historic Downtown is open for business and must remain so…it is the heartbeat of our City.

The Economic Resurgence that has been achieved in the last eight years underscores the importance of being deliberate …of protecting our old buildings …of the importance of art and neighborhood being the focal point of New Smyrna Beach…of the vital importance of good business practices and networking.

If New Smyrna Beach wants to have a healthy and sustainable future we all have to commit to it.  Everyone needs to be involved in the running of our City.  Everyone needs to help sustain and protect our Local Economy.

Thank you”