Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Conversation Has Begun

Last week at the Friday Morning Group a rather lively discussion took place. Judith Powers had written up her comments on our Concept Paper. These comments were distributed to all seven County Commissioners and to Liz Warren, Judith's direct supervisor and to Paul Cozzee, the Assistant County Administrator under which the Cultural Affairs Department now falls (Parks, Leisure and Culture).

Herb Snitzer gave us a brief review of Judith's comments. They were pretty much what was expected after Judith's visit to our Group on March 9th. If you wish to read Judith's comments, you can find them here. The attendees at the meeting pretty much agreed that despite Judith's comments, we would continue to pursue the concepts of the Pinellas Prize and the Creativity Center contained in the Concept Paper. Also, we agreed that what we would do is advocate for our concepts and not get into any kind of dispute with anyone who has expressed different views on the concepts.

Along those lines, apparently word of the concept paper has spread throughout the artists community. Mike Conway reported on some conversations where some artists were pretty much stunned at the suggested size of the Pinellas Prize. Apparently there is a little bit of grumbling about the size of the prize, with some folks suggesting that perhaps the money could be spread out among more artists. Personally, that is part of the attitudinal change that we have previously talked about. Given the scale of the Cultural Departments budget ($2.1 million), the size of the prize ($50,000) is really not that much money. Heck, in this day and age, $50,000 is not a lot of money period.

Speaking of money, Michele Tuegel reported on an artists workshop that was held to go over requirements for the $1,000 grants the County is offering. On fairly short notice, about 40 artists showed up for the workshop. One of the points of interest to Judith was that after the workshop was over, many of the artists stayed and chatted amongst themselves. It seemed to her that this indicated that a gathering place for artists, where they could feel comfortable to meet and discuss their art, their lives and their daily travails might be a very good thing indeed.

There was also some discussion about the Cultural Affairs departments new location off of Ulmerton Road where there is at least meeting space available. This location is co-located with St. Pete College's mid county location. Michele reported to us about the business development courses that SPC is offering there. We have had many discussions over the years about the need for artists to recognize that they are, in fact, small business people. As such, artists could use help in the area of business development. It was suggested that perhaps SPC could be persuaded to deliver some of these business development sessions geared towards artists.

Stay tuned for further developments.

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