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Catalyze 2020: John Collins

Bill DeYoung



This holiday season, we asked some of St. Pete’s best and brightest citizens to share one catalyzing idea for making St. Pete a better place to live. We asked not for lists of problems, but for meaty, actionable and impactful solutions, no matter how big or how small. 

John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance

l’d like a fractional percentage of private development budgets to be designated for the performing arts, museums, exhibitions, and festivals that make us a vibrant city — similar to the percentage of public development that is restricted for public art purchases.

I’d like our City of the Arts to have a dedicated income stream – perhaps from a small fraction of one percent of ad valorem.  Imagine what we could do if we did not have to start from $0 every year. We need to eliminate the mindset that arts funding is someone else’s responsibility. We need everyone to invest.

I’d like Visit St. Pete/Clearwater to expand the focus of its arts funding beyond marketing. If we don’t have the art, we won’t have anything to market. We have millions upon millions of dollars for beach nourishment, why not for arts nourishment?

I’d like our Tourist Development Council to approve funds the County has approved for the St. Petersburg Museum of History, Tampa Bay Watch, and the Dali.  I also hope they and our City will finally stop leaving the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum off their lists!

I’d like to have major sponsor for the SHINE Mural Festival to add to the City’s seed grant. Leadership support would mean we wouldn’t have to spend nine months asking for sponsor gifts from $10 to $25,000 -valuable time we could be spending on other arts endeavors.

And last but not least, I’d like the Tampa Bay Times to reverse its recent decision to relegate arts coverage to one half of the back page of the sports section. What an insult to every artist and performer who contributes to this creative community that everyone professes to love. If, indeed, the people who deliver the news believe that we have a vibrant arts scene, it’s their responsibility to reflect that every day. We need the media to elevate our arts coverage and provide a forum for in-depth, insightful arts criticism. We deserve a vigorous and analytical response to what the reporter saw, heard, and experienced – a response that helps improve the work and educate the audience –  rather than entertaining the reader at the expense of context and detail.



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