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Grants, galleries and Glass-a-Palooza: News from the art world

Bill DeYoung



"Danger, Will Robinson," a work by Beth Burley Kokol, a participating artist at Soft Water Studios (in the Warehouse Arts District) during the March 9 Second Saturdays ArtsWalk.

All eyes are on Tallahassee this week and next as the Florida Legislature begins its first session under Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s requested a $91 billion overall budget.

For “Arts and Culture Day(s),” March 12 and 13, arts organizations from around the state will head to the capital to lobby for more statewide grant money, after the steadily declining amounts of recent years bottomed out to a record low for 2018: $2.7, shared by nearly 500 organizations across the state, courtesy of the slashing red pen of then-governor Rick Scott. Just a few years earlier, the statewide allotment had been $43 million. Just seven percent of what was requested in 2018 made it into already-drained coffers.

Although DeSantis has earmarked $5 million in funding for cultural and museum grants in his budget, there’s more money available, according to St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Executive Director John Collins.

“They’ve only put $5 million in one bucket, for museums and organizations,” he said. “They didn’t even fund the other two buckets – places like the Arts Alliance are in the other bucket, called Culture Builds Florida. And that’s exactly what we’re doing, if you look at it financially.

“I think they just need to be educated as to how the Department of Cultural Affairs makes the grants, and how we apply for the grants. No one’s handing us money – it is a reimbursement process that invests in the culture and the arts of the community, that also brings in dollars and jobs. Which is what they want to hear.”

The statewide advocacy organization known as the Florida Cultural Alliance also says $5 million is simply not enough.

“I would love to see $61 million, $62 million at that time, but I doubt we’re going to get there,” said Alliance lobbyist and legislative advisor Tony Carvalho in a conference call this week. “But it doesn’t mean the game is over, because they always have reserves.”

Carvalho suggested that arts organizations statewide should watch the legislature closely as committees prepare their budget proposals.

Scott’s 2018 cuts were devastating to arts and cultural organizations statewide, including the bay area. According to the FCA, arts and culture is considered a $4.7 billion industry in Florida, generating more than $500 million in local and state tax revenues, and creates tens of thousands of jobs.

“I am hopeful that the legislature will recognize the investment value of the arts,” Collins said. “Everybody who applied to the Department of Cultural Affairs, who was approved, submitted a proposal that was vetted, judged by a jury of peers, if you will, and had to have matching dollars. We have to spend money to get the money, so it’s not a handout. It’s an investment that instantly doubles your money. Why do they not see that, particularly in a city and a county as rich with organizations that are indeed bringing more money in?”

The ratio, he explained, is $9 brought into the county for every dollar spent. “I think Pinellas County deserves this investment. Just like they would invest money into an incubator or an IT company. How do we measure those returns? So I would suggest the arts should be on a par with other things that capture their interest, that bring new business here.”

Good news in grantland

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance is the only nonprofit in Pinellas County to receive an National Endowment for the Arts Grant in the organization’s recent round of 2019 funding. The $15,000 grant, from the NEA’s ArtWorks program, was designated for this fall’s St. Pete Performs event.

In partnership with the City of St. Petersburg’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the Arts Alliance is accepting applications for its Individual Artist grant program, intended to provide financial assistance to City of St. Petersburg resident artists for specific projects.

Applicants, in all artistic disciplines, may request funding up to $1,000. The suggested grant period is April 22 through August 16.

To view guidelines and complete the application:

On Tuesday, March 12, Creative Pinellas launches the 2019 ArtsCatalyst grant program, created to make it possible for young people in Pinellas County (age 5-18) to have great arts and cultural experiences at area local summer camps. Information is available here.

And this too


Opening Friday at Chad Mize’s MIZE Gallery (689 Martin Luther King) is MINI, a miniature art exhibit featuring 90 local, national and international artists. The reception for this cool, cerebral and occasionally creepy collection is 6-10 p.m.

It’s Second Saturday ArtWalk weekend again, and many of the 40-or-so participating galleries have something new for walkers, drivers and/or trolleyites to see and appreciate. It’s 5-9 p.m. Saturday in the EDGE, Grand Central, Waterfront and Warehouse Arts districts; the map and directions are here.

For the first time, Creative Clay’s annual fundraiser “Spring For the Arts” will take place at the Imagine Museum (which didn’t exist a year ago, duh). The gala (food, open bar, silent auction, art exhibits and events) takes place March 20; tickets are available here. Creative Clay’s arts programs serve individuals with disabilities and neuro-differences.

There’s been a lot of talk and speculation about the fact that the Glass Art Society is bringing its annual international conference to St. Petersburg March 28-30 (it’s referenced in our recent profiles of glass artist Duncan McClellan and Imagine Museum director Jane Buckman). Thousands of glass artists, gallery people and collectors will descend on the city over those three days for talks, workshops and special events from St. Pete’s numerous purveyors of this relatively new – and visually stimulating – art form.

Not only will the GAS event focus the art world’s magnifying glass on our beautiful and creative city, it’ll bring in thousands of extra tourist dollars. A win-win!

Look for more on GAS Weekend (it’s fun calling it that, don’t you think?) in the Catalyst as the dates approach.

In the meantime, McClellan has co-curated Quest: A Celebration of Glass, an exhibition opening tonight (and staying through April 20) at Florida CraftArt. There are new exhibitions at the Morean Arts Center (Visions in Glass and Explorations in Glass) and the Chihuly Collection (Perspectives in Glass: A Science in Optics Saturday, with the works of presenters from the Glass Artist Society conference).


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