We’re asking thought leaders, business people and creatives to talk about 2022 and give us catalyzing ideas for making St. Pete a better place to live. What should our city look like? What are their hopes, their plans, their problem-solving ideas? This is Catalyze 2022.
When Terry Marks took over as the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s new CEO last March, the organization’s Comprehensive Arts Strategy, researched and written in collaboration with the Downtown Partnership and the City of St. Petersburg, was hot off the presses.
Marks read the strategy, and absorbed its proposals for growing the city’s artistic community, and signed off on the 24-page document because she agreed with everything it said.
“What’s great about the document is that it is fluid,” Marks said this week. “That means it’s going to change and evolve as the city evolves. It’s going to change and evolve as the artists and the arts community evolve. There’s a vision within that document that St. Petersburg continues to become the pre-eminent city of the arts in the southeastern U.S. And there are many organizations working towards that end, not just the Arts Alliance.”
Moving the dial on cultural prosperity, she said, means constant communication and cooperation between support organizations like the nonprofit Arts Alliance, the business community and city government. “I see that the arts have received a heightened awareness, and that’s just terrific,” Marks explained. “I think it’s a really exciting time for the city, and I think we’re all marching in the same direction. All seeking the same objectives.”
What would she like to see in the New Year? “More collaboration. We’ll be having a CEO roundtable in January – bringing together visual and performing art CEOs. The more collaboration, the more discussion, the better. And the Alliance wants to be at the center of that. That’s part of our mandate for the Comprehensive Art Strategy.
“Part Two is purposeful communication – that we’re actually meeting to create action, and moving the art and culture scene forward in St. Petersburg.”
As always, financial support – by necessity – is never far from her thoughts. “Most importantly for 2022 is adequate and consistent funding,” Marks said. “That means that the arts community has the kind of funding that it needs.
“We’re looking forward to working with our new mayor, and the city council, and we’re looking forward to working with the Tourist Development Council and all the parties involved so that we could showcase St. Petersburg as an international destination for the arts.”
Marks is not among those who think the city’s explosive rate of downtown development will adversely affect its artistic balance – and charm.
“Because there are so many leaders, in the arts community and in the business community, and within our governmental friends, who all get it, who all know,” she said.
“All are on the same page about how art makes St. Petersburg so special. When you look at an organization like ARK, that just came to St. Petersburg, that was because of all the diversity here, and all the innovation here. And you could see it and feel it on the street. I don’t think it’ll ever lose that character.”
As she prepares to launch her first full calendar year in the Arts Alliance’s operational hot seat, Marks has nothing but gold stars for her first nine months.
“It’s very humbling to be able to interact with so many different kinds of people, in so many different kinds of ways,” she said. “Every artist that I come into contact with – or gallerist, or museum leader, governmental leader or business leader – it brings a different set of understandings about the city.
“Collating all that information together has been a wonderful learning experience. And for the future, I just want to continue to listen to the art community, and to the community in general, to keep understanding what they need. And what impact they want to see.”