When Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed $1 billion from the Florida budget this week, he struck a blow – not necessarily lethal, but one that certainly hurts – to St. Petersburg’s vaunted SHINE Mural Festival.
SHINE was to receive $25,000 as part of the $2 million Culture Builds Florida grant, which was red-penciled in full by the governor. In Pinellas County, Culture Builds Florida grants were also denied David Manson’s EMIT music program and filmmaker Eric Casaccio.
It’s particularly tough, says John Collins, executive director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance – SHINE’s parent organization – because it’s the only state-level funding for which SHINE is eligible. And they did receive the requested funds last year.
“Because of what the Arts Alliance is and what we do, we have to apply in that bucket,” Collins explains. “We’re not allowed to apply in any other buckets, like American Stage and so on, because we’re not in space. We’re an association more than an institution.”
Legislative appropriations for theaters, museums and other arts institutions were announced in March.
SHINE is supported every year by a $25,000 grant from the mayor’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Private donations make up the rest of the budget.
The Culture Builds Florida grant, Collins says, “was a security blanket for us. More than that, to apply for that grant we had to show that we had an additional $25,000 in matching support, which we had lined up.
“It’s a huge hit. Our SHINE budget for this year was going to be about $75,000, instead of the usual 150, just to keep it small. Trying to find donors and sponsors through this time is hard. Very, very hard.”
Scheduled for Nov. 7-14, the 2020 SHINE festival had already been reduced in scale, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, “and because frankly last year was so huge we almost killed ourselves,” Collins explains.
“We had decided to just do 10 to 12 artists this year. We had 22 in 2019. We decided just to work with local artists this year, maybe one or two from Miami, I think. Because of COVID And also that cuts down our expenses big time.”
Now the tiny SHINE crew has $25,000 less to work with.
“It’s momentarily devastating, but it means that I and my staff pick ourselves off the floor, and we’re just going to have to beat the bushes and try to convince people to help us make up the shortfall,” Collins says.
Because there are no live sporting events, concerts or performances for the time being, Collins is wondering what the donors who support those events plan on doing with their contributions.
“Maybe,” he muses, “we can convince them to spend their sponsorship dollars on SHINE.”