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Coming soon: St. Pete’s second annual Celebration of the Arts

Bill DeYoung



New York's Calidore String Quartet will play an all-Beethoven program Feb. 5 at the Palladium Theater. Photo provided.

February will bring the second annual St. Petersburg Celebration of the Arts, a collection of public events unified by a single theme – this year, it’s Tolerance and Acceptance.

Michele Kidwell-Gilbert, a retired professor of art history, came up with the umbrella concept with her husband Dr. Gordon Gilbert, a (semi) retired neurologist. Both are active patrons of the arts, and philanthropists, and they’re equally as passionate about doing what they can to bring members of their community closer together.

Participating organizations include The Florida Orchestra, St. Petersburg Opera Company, the St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival, the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, the Historic Manhattan Casino, Imagine Museum, the Florida Holocaust Museum, Keep St. Pete Lit, the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum and others. The series includes concerts, lectures, demonstrations, discussions and visual art exhibitions.

“In our choice of annual February topics, we seek those that might not only unite St. Petersburg’s artistic resources but also elevate our city’s reputation,” Kidwell-Gilbert explains. “It was Gordon’s desire for many years that all of St. Petersburg’s cultural groups collaborate, which was achieved during our first year with our Shakespeare theme.”

Gordon and Michele Kidwell-Gilbert

Kidwell-Gilbert taught Ancient and Renaissance art history at The New School for Social Research, New York University, and the College of New Rochelle, and is the founder and chair of the National Arts Club’s archaeology committee. She and Gordon were married in 2015.

“Knowing that I had organized many high-level events in Manhattan with some involving UN diplomats, two years ago he thought that the time had arrived to turn his desire into reality.”

The plan includes focusing on a different subject each February for the first four or five years (future topics include The Sea and Love) “and then perhaps recycling them,” she says. “We are, of course, open to suggestions for further topics.”

Initially, the 2020 theme was to be Tolerance. At a gathering of arts leaders at Casa Gilbert, the consensus was to add several words, so it became Tolerance, Civility and Acceptance. This was shortened to Tolerance and Acceptance, which not only rolls off the tongue, it gets the point across quite nicely.

“Our initial theme,” Kidwell-Gilbert explains, “did not originate in relationship to politics, nor should it.   Tolerance is an important component of the good, ethical, moral life, while intolerance underlies many of the world’s troubles.”

She adds: “Inclusiveness is important to us; we hope to retain from year to year as many as possible of St. Petersburg’s cultural groups, adding even more as our annual theme changes.”

For the second time around, the Gilberts learned a few things. In organizing and executing the 2019 event series, says Kidwell-Gilbert, they discovered “how many good and creative people there are in this community, and how helpful they can be in achieving our goals. Many of this year’s programs originate in organizations that strongly supported us in the first year.

“The arts in St. Petersburg exist at a high level and with outstanding leadership.”

St. Petersburg Celebration of the Arts: Tolerance and Acceptance

Saturday, Feb. 1, 12:30 -3:30 pm

Equality Florida LGBTQ+ Youth Art Workshop by Diversity Arts.

Free for LGBTQ+ youth in Tampa Bay area.

Creative Lofts, (2nd floor/entrance to Florida CraftArt) 10 Fifth Street North


“Peter and the Wolf.” Photo: The Florida Orchestra

Sunday, Feb. 2, 2 and 3:15 pm

Peter and the Wolf with the Florida Orchestra, sponsored by The PJ Library, The Jewish Federation of Florida’s Gulf Coast, and The Florida Orchestra.

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, 150 Central Avenue


Wednesday, Feb. 5, 7:30-9:30 pm

The Palladium Chamber Players Concert.

The Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Avenue North


Thursday, Feb. 6, 11 am – 1 pm

The Florida Orchestra Coffee Concert: World on a String.

The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First Street South


Thursday, Feb. 6, 6:30-7:30 pm

Green Benches: A panel discussion of how St. Pete’s Green Benches – once a symbol of both tourism and segregation – can promote the dialogue of unity in the Sunshine City.

St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Avenue Northeast


Friday, Feb. 7, 2-3 pm

Tolerance: A talk by St. Petersburg Chief of Police Anthony Holloway.

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, 150 Central Avenue


Saturday, Feb. 8, 3-4:30 pm

Community Conversation: Non-Traditional Casting – when race is a consideration in the play’s development. Panelists include a Playwright, Director, Politician, Historian, and Producer/Patron.

Shorecrest Preparatory School, 5101 First Street Northeast


Saturday, Feb. 8, 6-8 pm

Theatrical Production: The Crucible.

Shorecrest Preparatory School, 5101 First Street Northeast


Saturday, Feb. 8, 9-11 pm

The Bartender.

Spitfire Theater Improv Production, 1920 First Avenue South


Sunday, Feb. 9, 2-4 pm

Marie and Rosetta, followed by talkback.

FreeFall Theater, 6099 Central Avenue


Monday, Feb. 10, 7-9 pm

Classical Revolution Concert.

Iberian Rooster, 475 Central AvenuE


Tuesday, Feb. 11, 5-7 pm

Tolerance and Acceptance: “The Art of Healing” expressed through an array of performance artists.

Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Avenue


Saturday, Feb. 15, 2-3:30 pm

Lecture by Professor Sara Munson Deats: Shakespeare on Tolerance.

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, 150 Central Avenue


Sunday, Feb. 16, 5-7 pm

Lecture by Dr. Rachel Schonberger, National Hadassah Vice President:

Hadassah — Healing Our Multifaceted World sponsored by Hadassah St. Petersburg Chapter.

St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Avenue NorthEast


Monday, Feb. 17, 430-6:30 pm

Lecture by Dr. Fatma Talaat Ismail, American Research Center in Egypt:

Diversity on the Nile: 25 Years of Conserving Synagogues, Monasteries, and Mosques.

St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Avenue Northeast


Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7-9 pm

Beyond the Green Bench sponsored by The Florida Holocaust Museum and The Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.

The Historic Manhattan Casino, 642 22nd Street South


Wednesday, Feb. 19, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Ten x Ten, theme Tolerance and Acceptance.

Imagine Museum, 1901 Central Avenue


Thursday, Feb. 20, 11 am – 12:30 pm

Book Club: Blood and Thunder, by Hampton Sides. Was frontiersman Kit Carson a hero or villain?

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, 150 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg 33701


Friday, Feb.  21, 2 – 3:30 pm

The 2020 St Petersburg Conference on World Affairs: Screening of the new documentary Sweet Home Monteverde. Q&A with filmmaker Robin Truesdale.

Tiedemann College of Business Auditorium at USF St. Pete, 700 4th Street South


Friday, Feb. 21, 7:30 pm

SPC Piano Series: Ian Hobson, Solo Recital with music by Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff.

SPC/Gibbs Campus Music Center, 6605 Fifth Avenue North


Saturday, Feb. 22, 8 pm

The Florida Orchestra Masterworks Concert: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.

The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First Street South


Sunday, Feb. 23, 12 – 3 pm

Equality Florida LGBTQ+ Youth Art Show: A platform to showcase and celebrate young LGBTQ+ artists.

St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Courts, 559 Mirror Lake Drive North


Sunday, Feb. 23, 4:30 – 6 pm

St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival:

A staged reading of The Merchant of Venice, mini lecture, and talkback.

Opera Central, 2145 First Avenue South


Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception by Judy Glickman Lauder.

The Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth Street South


Tuesday, Feb. 25, 8 pm

The Tampa Bay Symphony Concert: Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait.

The Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Avenue North


Thursday, Feb. 27, 11 am – 1 pm

The Florida Orchestra Coffee Concert: All About Tchaikovsky.

The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First Street South


Friday, Feb. 28, 8 – 10 pm

St. Petersburg Opera Company: Harmony: Tolerance and Acceptance.

Opera Central, 2145 First Avenue South


Saturday, Feb. 29, 1 pm

Keep St. Pete Lit: Radical Acts of Love: Writing About Self-Acceptance, Tolerance, and Forgiveness.

LitSpace Literary Arts Institute at Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Avenue


Saturday, Feb. 29, 8 – 10 pm

The Florida Orchestra Pops Concert: Out of This World.

The Mahaffey Theater, 400 First Street South


Exhibitions Feb. 1-29

Florida CraftArt

Inside the World of Public Art.


The Florida Holocaust Museum

Beaches, Benches and Boycotts: The Civil Rights Movement in Tampa Bay and Let Me Be Myself: The Life Story of Anne Frank.


Imagine Museum

Art Glass: Tolerance and Acceptance.


The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art

Spirit Lines: Helen Hardin Etchings.


Some events are ticketed while others are free. For changes and updates: The official Celebration of the Arts website.

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