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Catalyze 2021: Jenee Priebe of SHINE

Bill DeYoung



We’re asking thought leaders, business people and creatives to talk about 2021, and give us catalyzing ideas for making St. Pete a better place to live in what will surely be a changed – and charged – post-Covid world. What should our city look like? What are their hopes, their plans, their problem-solving ideas? This is Catalyze 2021.


The arts will survive Covid-19, that much is certain, although 2020 did not offer any guarantees.

For SHINE Mural Festival director Jenee Priebe, November’s smaller-than-usual event – reduced in size and scope because of Covid-necessitated state budget cutbacks – wasn’t so bad.

“We learned that what we do really has been pandemic-proof,” said Priebe, who technically works for the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “We’ve been one of the few events that’s been able to persist through this because we’re outdoors, and we can modify things in a way where we eliminate the events and just pare down what we do – and it still works.

“And I think the significance and the importance of SHINE is almost heightened for people, because there’s so few other things to do. I think we’ve learned how important it is to keep doing what you’re doing. And like a lot of organizations, we’ve also seen how our online presence is super-important.”

That, Priebe added, goes for struggling artists, too. “If you’re a business, and you’re operating as a business, you have a lot more options for help. That’s one of the biggest things that we’ve seen.”

Assuming Governor DeSantis restores the Culture Builds Florida grant in 2021 – that’s the one that left SHINE 2020 with a gaping hole in its budget – things will be a whole lot brighter when the mural festival returns for its seventh year.

“There’s always room for growth, and more ways to support the arts,” Priebe explained. “I know there’s a lot of important conversations being had behind the scenes right now, talking about that: How do we move forward as a city of the arts?”

The city helps fund SHINE through annual cultural grants.

“I think the city has done an amazing job supporting specifically what we do, being able to remove a lot of the barriers that a lot of cities face in terms of art in public spaces,” Priebe said. “The city has made it very easy for us to do that, and has supported it whole-heartedly from the beginning.’

In 2021, “I would love to see more funding. I think everybody in the arts is always feeling that way! This year really showed how important SHINE is to the community, and I would love to see dollars back that up – not just from the city, just in general.”

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