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City Council approves $350,000 in St. Pete arts and culture grants

Bill DeYoung

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The St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts received $16,273.01. Photo provided by the MFA.

The St. Petersburg City Council voted Thursday afternoon to approve cultural grants totaling $355,000, to be divided among 31 local arts and culture nonprofits, for the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

The planned distribution of funds, covering the period from Oct. 1 of this year through Sept. 30, 2019, was created through a study, ranking and recommendation by Council’s Arts Advisory Committee, which has been helping fund local arts groups annually since the mid 1990s. Council approved the grants recommendation unanimously, although Council member Brandi Carlisle was absent.

“It had been on the Consent Agenda, but they pulled it for the ‘Good News’ section of the meeting, at the beginning, because it’s a good, happy thing that we’re doing,” said Wayne Atherholt, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

Atherholt gave a brief presentation on the breakdown of the grants, which total $50,000 more than the prior fiscal year. The committee reviews each grant application and ranks the organization’s merit via a point system; if the grant request is approved, the final amount is based on each organization’s operating budget.

The news is particularly good for the St. Pete arts organizations that whose state grants were either eliminated or drastically cut last spring. The current Florida budget allocates a less-than-whopping $2.6 million to the arts statewide – to be divided among 489 organizations (it was $25 million in 2017).

“The city funding is absolutely critical,” Atherholt said. “When the state cuts its funding, as it’s done in the past, it’s very important for cities and counties to step up and support the arts organizations in their city.

“These arts organizations, all 31 of them, are doing wonderful things, and public service, in the city,” Atherholt said. “For the residents as well as visitors.”

Arts funding 2018-2019: Breakdown

Level 1 organizations (budgets under $100,000)

Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, Inc. – $3,383.33
EMIT, Inc. – $2,901.54
Florida West Ballet, Inc. – $4,209.57
Gulf Coast Artists’ Alliance, Inc. – $1,582.90
St. Petersburg Preservation, Inc. – $4,505.60

Level 2 organizations (budgets $100-$500k)

Academy of Ballet Arts, Inc. – $10,783.63
Choral Masterworks Festival, Inc. – $10,220.39
Friends of the Festival, Inc. – $10,349.16
St. Petersburg Historical Society, Inc. – 10,325.75
St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society, Inc. – $10,325.75
St. Petersburg Clearwater Film Society, Inc. – $10,510.46
St. Petersburg City Theatre, Inc. – $9,553.08
St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District, Inc. – $10,003.15

Level 3 organizations (budgets $500k and above)

In Touch With Communities Around the World, Inc. (ACT) – $15,704.37
Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts Inc. – $15,286.26
St. Petersburg Opera Company Inc. – $15,553.85
PARC, Inc. (St Pete Shines On program) – $8,925.07
The Palladium at St. Petersburg College – $15,702.51
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies (Write Field program) – $14,148.99

Second-Year Option organizations

(Second year funding option allowed organizations that scored 90 and above last year to provide updated information without having to produce an entire grant application. This is the third year for that program; 12 organizations qualified this year.)

American Stage Company, Inc. – $15,751.20
Arts Center Association, Inc. – $15,955.24
ARTZ For Life Academy, Inc. – $15,538.80
Creative Clay, Inc. – $15,660.89
Florida Craftsmen, Inc. – $15,486.95
Florida Holocaust Museum, Inc. – $16,115.80
freeFall Theatre, Inc. – $15,553.85
Great Explorations, Inc. – $15,583.96
Keep St. Pete Lit, Inc. – $2,214.00
Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg Florida, Inc. – $16,273.01
The Salvador Dali Museum, Inc. – $15,873.29
Studio @620, Inc. – $11,017.65

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