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Catalyze 2021: Laura Hine

Jaymi Butler

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Laura Hine

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.

As we close the book on a year like none other, Laura Hine has two main wishes for 2021 – that people will be kind to one another and that they will seek collaborations that can make the world a better place. 

Hine, the executive director of the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art and a newly elected member of the Pinellas County School Board, has long believed in the power of working together to create positive change, something that the community needs more than ever in the midst of the pandemic.

“One of the strengths of St. Pete is the immense amount of collaboration we have across industries, sectors and people,” she said. “I do hope that in 2021, we can figure out how to continue.”

At the James Museum, Hine is doing just that. For one, she is actively collaborating with leaders of other arts organizations that are “as passionate as we are” about amplifying diverse voices and stories. 

“We have to look around the table and make sure we’re including a variety of voices and perspectives,” she said. 

Hine is also working hard on identifying ways to connect with the community and encourage people to visit the museum, whether it’s virtually or in person. She said there are plans in the works to launch a slate of private experiences that will allow for social distancing while giving people the chance to tap into their creative sides. In terms of the museum’s educational component, Hine and her team will continue to develop programming for students including virtual artist talks and in-person field trips.

“We’re focused on figuring out opportunities to help families and people of all ages participate in things that are creative, entertaining and educational in a way that’s consistent with caring for the community,” she said. “That’s been our No. 1 priority.”

Looking forward, Hine – who calls herself an “impatient optimist” – is hopeful that the community can build on the momentum gained during 2020 related to issues surrounding racial justice, inclusion and health and that the conversations on these topics will continue in the future.

“2020 has been tough on everyone. There’s been a lot of fear and a lot of tension,” she said. “What I hope for 2021 is that we can reopen our minds and our hearts, trust one another and keep moving forward together.”

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