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Catalyze 2020: Paul Wilborn

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. 

Paul Wilborn, Executive Director of the Palladium Theater

I learned long ago that wishing for change in your city or your country or your life is a waste of time. What’s important are the artistic seeds you choose to sow, and the richness of the soil in the community garden where plant them.

What has happened in the arts in St. Petersburg over the past dozen years that I’ve been directly involved is more than I can chronicle in the word count I’m given here. All of it the result of determined effort by talented people and strong organizations that have transformed this town and continued to amaze me every day. See the Warehouse Arts District. See The Factory project. See American Stage and freefall. See the Florida Orchestra. See the jazz, dance and literary community. See multi-million-dollar museums sprouting in downtown. See the glass and clay and visual art ecosystems that are now expanding exponentially.

Speaking just for me, I hope 2020 is even half as exciting as 2019. I finished my first book and found a strong local publisher that emerged at exactly the right moment. I was buoyed by good reviews and lifted up by an arts community that embraced the book and by audiences who showed up for readings in such numbers there were often not enough chairs.

My wife also was lifted up by the burgeoning film and acting community here. She found herself working on major films being shot literally five minutes from our house – hell, some were even shot inside our house!

The Palladium Theater, where I work, continued to find new directions in 2019 – support for new work by top local performers, partnerships with other organizations on one-of-a-kind projects, an expanded roster of local bands and artists finding a home on our stages are just the tip of that particular iceberg. The new year will see a push for artistic residencies and the launch of a program to make major improvements to our theater.

The philanthropy community in St. Petersburg – the donors that help support the work we do –  have been generous. I am confident that will continue in the new year.

If there’s a message I can share and a wish I can offer for 2020 it’s that talented people continue to be drawn to our town, that they continue to bring bold new ideas with them, and that they put in the hard labor to make those ideas into reality. And that our donor community and our audiences continue to support the good work being done.

What more can you wish for than that?


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