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Fairgrounds gets rolling with a Call to Artists

Bill DeYoung



Image from the Fairgrounds Facebook page.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your RFQs.

Looking ahead to a 2021 opening, Fairgrounds is asking area artists to submit an RFQ (request for qualifications), to be followed in May by an RFP (request for proposal) by those chosen from the RFQ pool.

Setting aside the hyperactive initialism, this means Fairgrounds, the 12,000-square-foot “immersive art experience” planned for the Warehouse Arts District, is looking for creatives to come up with new works to make the eventual opening spectacular.

“We want our first exhibition to be special, fun, engaging and exciting,” founder Liz Dimmitt said Monday morning. “However, we also plan to evolve the exhibition over time so it will get better and better.”

Liz Dimmitt. Photo by Bill DeYoung.

Although the official announcement said Fairgrounds hopes to “celebrate Florida’s many dimensions, embracing all things weird, wacky and wonderful,” Dimmitt stressed there are no strict parameters:

“We don’t have an ideal submission,” she said. “This call is really to understand the ideas and interest of our local creative community. We want to help artists realize their ideas. Fairgrounds is a platform for showcasing their work.”

Fairgounds is to be a central part of The Factory, a series of eight (currently) vacant warehouses on 6.5 acres in the arts-friendly district in South St. Pete – the former home of Madico Window Films, which relocated to Pinellas Park.

The Factory is owned by Kara and Jordan Behar of Behar + Peteranecz Architecture, in partnership with the Dimmitt family.

Totalling 91,000 square feet, the buildings are being repurposed and redesigned for nonprofit office space (the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and Keep St. Pete Lit, among others), independent retailers (including Daddy Kool Records, Black Crow Coffee and the Barley Common brewery collective) and artist and dance studios.

Fairgrounds (no “the”) will be the centerpiece.

“I’m a big fan and supporter of the arts in general, but this I see as a way to fuel an entire a mini arts economy,” Dimmitt told the Catalyst in August, when the project was announced. “Because we’re going to be hiring all these artists to come and make their exhibitions, but then paying them a percentage of the profits from ticket sales.

“As a cultural strategist, I work to drive company or brand strategy by activating a cultural strategy. In those times, the artist is paid once: You put up an awesome mural, and people come to take their photos in front of it forever. But the artist gets paid once to install it, never to benefit again.

“My idea is really to pay them to install it, but then also pay them moving forward, as part of our arts clubhouse. So it gives funds to create a community around us, and makes it so people can re-invest in their art – and make the next cool thing that I can show in the next version of Fairgrounds.”

Opportunities are available for work of all discipline, size and scope, up to and including room-sized installations.

The deadline for Phase 1 (the RFQ) is May 3; those chosen to submit something for Phase 2 (the RFP) will receive a small stipend.

The submission form is here, along with additional information.





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