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Seven-figure capital raise sought for south St. Pete artist studio project

Margie Manning

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The Fairgrounds team at work during a creative and storytelling ideas workshop.

The backer of Fairgrounds, an interactive artist studio experience in south St. Petersburg, plans to raise $1 million from investors to fund the project.

Liz Dimmitt (Christian Oth Studio)

Elizabeth “Liz” Dimmitt disclosed the capital raise in a July 12 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Our initial capital raise is $1 million, focused on a close-knit group of family and colleagues to raise those funds,” Dimmitt told the St. Pete Catalyst. “We’ve gone ahead and filed and set up how we have so we can be poised for future growth, because we will raise more funds in the future.”

She’s currently in the early stages of planning the Fairgrounds, which she described as an immersive art experience, featuring artist-made installations.

“Immersive means it’s all around you. You can touch, you can play, and it’s the whole environment,” Dimmitt said. “We’re going to integrate a narrative in the installation that celebrates wonderful, wacky and wild Florida.”

The artist-made aspect is important.

“We’re going to focus on local artists and celebrating our local creative community because that just makes it more authentic and interesting,” Dimmitt said. “It’s not going to be all perfect. It’s not Disney World. It’s not a perfectly manufactured environment. It’s interpreted by artists as they come together to collaborate and make something.”

Dimmitt is drawing inspiration from Meow Wolf, an arts and entertainment group based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with projects in Las Vegas and Denver coming online soon.

“They have a great model … Fairgrounds is an evolution of that model,” said Dimmitt, who has a background in both arts and finance. Her day job is managing partner of Dimmitt Chevrolet in Clearwater.

The investment funding will help pay for the project, which will cost about $1.7 million, according to an application filed with the city for funding. Fairgrounds, at 2610 Fairfield Ave. S., was one of five projects awarded grant funding from the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area Commercial Revitalization Program on May 16.

Three of the five projects are associated with the same property owner, Guru and Gaia, according to a city staff report. The other two are projects by St. Pete Arts Alliance and Brewery Collective.

Fairgrounds will be a stand-alone business, Dimmitt said, occupying about 12,000 square feet of leased space in the Factory, a new creative and cultural center in south St. Petersburg. Revenue will come from ticket sales.

Dimmitt said Fairgrounds will be an economic engine, through commissions and collaboration and job creation for local artists and community residents. Fairgrounds will hire local artists and makers from within the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area, the grant applications said. The project is expected to create 12 to 17 new jobs, and will target six to 12 CRA residents to expand their career in the arts.

“We also hope to be an educational platform, focusing on STEAM and innovation and a storytelling curriculum,” she said.

The arts, entertainment and the “experience economy” are all big business, as well as fun, she said.

“Tampa Bay is in a renaissance right now. There’s so many cool things happening, business-wise, culturally. So I think it’s a great time to do Fairgrounds,” she said. “The experience economy is what we’re in right now and I’m excited to bring it all together in St. Pete, the perfect place to do this.”

Buildout is expected to start in the first quarter of next year, with an opening likely occurring in stages, beginning in the third quarter of 2020.

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here we go

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    Angela Markus

    July 26, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Wow! Just watched the trailer for the Meow Wolf documentary. If that concept is coming to St. Pete…it will transform everything we know about the arts in St. Pete. God’s Waiting Room no more! Power to the weird!

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