There’s no question about it, St. Petersburg is a City of the Arts.
Whether you’re here for the beaches or the business community, for the grassroots charm or the ever-expanding technology boom, the arts – music, theater, visual art, dance and a dozen other designated descriptors – are a constant, and exceptionally rich, component of St. Petersburg life.
Calling it a renaissance is risky business, because those of us who grew up here remember that St. Pete, for all its other delights, was never much of an arts town. It was, in a word, Dullsville. In the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, there were more dinner theaters than fine art galleries. The same tired audience went to the symphony every time. Museums? Never a big draw back in the day.
Ah, but today’s St. Petersburg is culturally thriving, and diverse, and statistics prove that a very large part of the city’s ballooning economic success is due to the variety and vivaciousness of its arts scene. A healthy arts scene means the city is alive, very much so.
Enter the St. Pete Catalyst.
For close to two years, we’ve kept a fine, focused lens on the city’s business community, the engine that drives growth and prominence in St. Pete. As an innovative new journalistic model, the Catalyst is extremely community-driven, combining the work of vigilant, professional journalists with the written words of community members, the very people who have a stake in what happens in our fair city.
The Create arts section was born out of this model – to collate and expound on all that’s happening here, always keeping abreast of new ideas and artistic breakthroughs, with an emphasis on profiles of the personalities who create, promote and support the music, theater, art et cetera that makes us a true City of the Arts.
We feel that this is especially important right now, in this moment in history, as arts coverage in St. Pete – and Tampa, and Clearwater – has been significantly diminished through the near-constant reduction of staff, and space, at our local newspaper of record. And other area periodicals.
Remember the Tampa Tribune? How about the Clearwater Sun?
This shouldn’t be happening at the exact moment the arts community is growing into such a prominent feather in the St. Pete cap. It shouldn’t, but it is.
That’s not to disparage, for one second, the fine writers and dedicated editors who still do good work covering bay area arts, some of them even as their parent companies pull out support like rugs from under the journalists’ feet.
At the Catalyst, we’re focused on the future, and how to give St. Pete the arts coverage it deserves.
As we move into 2020, our arts section will get even bigger, and take on new and greater challenges. We’re evolving, just like the artists who give St. Petersburg life, and in the New Year we’ll introduce a community and arts calendar, include more audio and video, and – most importantly – increase our journalistic coverage substantially to bring everyone eye-to-eye, ear-to-ear and otherwise as close as possible to the movers, shakers, dreamers and doers that make St. Pete such an extraordinarily creative place.
We look forward to taking this journey alongside you.
- Bill DeYoung was Arts and Entertainment Editor and senior feature writer for the Gainesville Sun for 20 years. He also held those titles at Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers in South Florida, and at the alt-weekly Connect Savannah in Georgia.