As executive director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, John Collins is on the front lines during the all-genre arts-stifling pandemic. He is one of the architects of the Pinellas Arts Community Relief Fund, which has already distributed $100,000 to artists and arts organizations hit hard by the blanket closures, and has just begun its second round of applications.
More to the point Collins, whose work with the eight-year-old Arts Alliance has contributed mightily to St. Pete’s enviable profile as a vibrant City of the Arts, spends just about every minute of every day thinking about the arts community he represents, and what he can do to help its diverse population through this crisis – when, as he said in Tuesday’s interview on The Catalyst Sessions, artists are struggling to pay their rents and purchase groceries, much less selling a work from a now-closed studio or gallery, or wondering where the next commission is coming from. Or waiting until it’s safe to put on another stage show.
“For a lot of us in the nonprofit world,” he said, “our mission has increased exponentially. Emotionally, for us, trying to raise money for the artists, but also how does the Arts Alliance re-invent itself to better serve what we need, so that our studios, artists, galleries, museums can better be marketed?
“I think a lot of this was coming down the pike anyway, with more use of the internet to sell, for example. The use of Facebook and all of that internet access. But now Covid has certainly catapulted us into the future, where we have to do it now, to survive.”
It is a fascinating and eye-opening conversation, covering numerous important subjects. Be forewarned: There’s an internet glitch about halfway through – this was livestreamed Tuesday evening – but it doesn’t last long, and the interview continues! So please, stick with it.
Today on The Catalyst Sessions: Tombolo Books’ Alsace Walentine.
Weekdays at 7 p.m. on the Catalyst Facebook page.