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Executive Director - Creative Pinellas

Posted By Joe Hamilton


Barbara St. Clair has been steering the Creative Pinellas ship since 2016. A savvy, corporate-minded businesswoman, equipped with extensive background in marketing spanning multiple corporate giants, St. Clair's heart is firmly fixed in the nonprofit community. St. Clair has used her business experience to move Creative Pinellas into the former Gulf Coast Museum campus and to build an Art Business Incubator into Creative Pinellas' wide-ranging services.

Years in St. Pete

19 (2 with Creative Pinellas)

Organizations involved in

Creative Pinellas – essentially – that’s probably a 24/7 role for me.

What gets you out of bed every day?

Other than my alarm clock being insistent, there’s a lot to do. I’m very excited about what’s going on in Pinellas County. I’m very excited about what Creative Pinellas is doing and I also feel we’re very much beginning and so the road ahead is so compelling. So I get up every day so I can make some more progress down that road.

Why St. Pete?

St. Pete and Pinellas for me are very tied, which is interesting because when I hang out with my St. Petersburg friends I understand how and why they’re very St. Pete-centric. It’s Pinellas County for me because Creative Pinellas is the county agency. So my focus is all the way up to Tarpon Springs and Gulfport and the south part of St. Petersburg out to the beaches, Alt-19, just county-wide focus. And I think that’s probably really good because St. Petersburg is such a magnet and has such a successful arts community and arts leadership.

For instance, I partner with John Collins of the St. Pete Arts Alliance a lot, and then I really try to bring the focus into what else is going on in the county.

What is one habit that you keep?

I do yoga. I probably don’t do it as much as I would like to do it but I do it every Saturday morning.

Who are some people that influence you?

I am a child of the ’60s and ’70s, and Martin Luther King influenced me very much when I was growing up. Recently there was an anniversary associated with Robert Kennedy, and it reminded me how optimistic I was about what was going on in this country when I was a young child. So I think those two are influencers for me even today.

In terms of current people, I think my board at Creative Pinellas. I have a very strong board and they keep me motivated – and I’d also say, my staff at Creative Pinellas, and then all the artists and the people doing incredibly creative things. They are all sort of heroic in my mind.

What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?

One of the things I learned along the way is that asking the correct question at the right time is really important. So when I’m trying to solve a problem or I’m working with my staff to solve a problem, or to face a challenge, I really hone in on “are we really asking the right question?”

Because I think if we’re asking the right question we’re going to find the right answer. Another thing that sort of is a guidance principle is – and I learned this in the business world – “70 percent planning and 100 percent execution.”

So for most of my life, I was always wondering why I was pulling the trigger on things so early and people were telling me I wasn’t ready, and I would say,”No, no. Let’s go.” And then I would have this wonderful luck of having somebody from Johnson & Johnson do a presentation and talk about how if you get 70 percent planning you’re really there, and then you have to move forward. That’s one of my guiding principles, and certainly what we’ve been doing in Creative Pinellas.

When we get 70 percent of our planning done and it seems like a good idea we go, “well let’s see what happens and see if we can make it work.”

What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?

I wish I didn’t know about it. Because If I knew this I wouldn’t have taken the job, but it is really, really hard. It is harder in a good way. But If I had known how complex, I would’ve probably said, “ah, oh well …” So I’m actually glad I didn’t know.

What’s next?

Continuing to help grow Creative Pinellas and continuing to find ways that the actions we take and the programs we offer make a difference for the community, a positive difference. And keep coming up with ideas and new ways to deliver services, and provide what the community needs to really fulfill itself in its most possibly ideal way.

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