As a result of Ken's visit in early February, a hearty band from our Friday Morning Group put together a concept paper for Ken. You can read the paper here:
One of the components calls for a prize modelled after the Kennedy Center Honors to recognize
accomplished artists who reside in Pinellas County in recognition of their lifelong artistic work.
This prize would be accompanied by a $50,000 annual stipend for the Prize Winners for a two year period. All in all a modest proposal for a County who's Cultural Plan has a goal to
Value and assist artists and creative workers as fundamental to a vibrant community
And that's really what we are talking about here. We need to work to create an attitudinal change about the value of artists to our community. We have the ear of one County Commissioner. But if we want to see these concepts come to fruition, we are going to have to start working on building constituencies outside of our own group to support our concepts.
Last week we were visited by Judith Powers to give us some feedback from the County staff about our concept papers' proposals. Judith is the head of the Pinellas County Cultural (formerly Arts) Council which has recently been absorbed into the County Government.
There are two proposals in the Concept Paper. One for the creation by the County of a "Creativity Center". The other is the Pinellas Prize. We spent no time last Friday talking about the Creativity Center. All the discussion focused on the prize. Judith told us right off the bat that our problem was going to be with the $50,000 stipend to the prize winners. That much money going to an individual would be "problematic".
What is problematic is that a County who has a goal to "Value and assist artists and creative workers as fundamental to a vibrant community" has a problem placing a $50,000 value on "accomplished artists who reside in Pinellas County in recognition of their lifelong artistic work".
Bob Devin Jones perhaps said it best when he said placing value on artists is at the core of what we are about. The $50,000 is about valuing artists in the way that our society values things - through financial means.
The real work though is to set out to create the attitudinal change necessary to bring that idea of valuing artists to the forefront. We have the ear of and a proposal before a County Commissioner. To bring our concepts to reality, we need 4 yes votes from the County Commission. To get those 4 yes votes, we've got to get all the communities that we interact with to talk about changing our attitudes about valuing artists. If we get the Commissioners hearing enough different voices in favor of our concept, we can have that attitudinal change we are seeking.