The Friday Moning Group resumed the weekly (Friday morning, imagine that) meetings at the Atlanta Bread Company in Downtown St. Pete this morning. About 10 of us gathered to talk about things of interest to us.
As is often the case, there was another meeting going on at the ABC at the same time. A City employee who has something to do with the Arts, a Downtown Business Booster, and a Florida Progress Employee were all huddled right outside our little meeting room in the back. No tellin what they were talking about (they wouldn't tell), but I'll bet we had more fun and will get more done. Takers?
Our main focus again was how to support artists in St. Petersburg. It was suggested that one way to do that would be to try and get the City and the County to market us as an art buyers destination. The tie ins with economic and tourist development became rapidly apparent.Michele Tuegel of the County Cultural Affairs Council suggested that for St. Petersburg, it would make sense to approach Mayor Rick Baker. Herb Snitzer indicated he would contact Pinellas County Commission Chair Ken Welch.
There was also a discussion about affordable and mixed use housing development for artists. There is a critical need for affordable housing and studio locations for artists in St. Petersburg. Artists are particularly feeling the twin sqeezes of rising property taxes and property insurance. We talked about various options currently available to assist first time home buyers and also using properties the City has purchased primarly as a land bank.
We then moved to a discussion of historic preservation in St. Petersburg. There was a discussion of a plan to purchase a large chunk of the Jannus Landing block to preserve the buildings and the concert venue. There was also a discussion about the transfer of development rights on historic properties within the CBD-3 area in downtown.
Before the group really got under weigh, there was a rather lively discussion about education, which is always a good thing. The talk centered around how to close the achievment gap between white and other students. Heb Snitzer suggested that for the first at least two years, that children are in the public school system, be spent entirely on reading. It was suggested that this might help level the playing field for disadvantaged students. Their main disadvantage at this point is that a good portion of these children are far behind their counterparts in time spent reading with their partents or other care givers.
First time attendees this morning included:
Bob and Amy Barancik. Bob is an artist, photographer and independent film maker.
Cndy McFerrin, a developer and art enthusiast.
And we welcomed back Lexey Covell who is the Tour Coordinator for the Raymond James art collection, the most extensive corporate collection in the Southeast US.
If you were not at the meeting this morning, we missed you. If you were at the meeting and want to include something I left out. please do so in the comments.
We look forwad to seeing you all next Friday morning.