Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Soliciting Your Ideas and Support

It was a quiet week this past Friday at the Friday Morning Group, my favorite event of the week. That does not at all mean it was not interesting.

The main topic of discussion was how to increase attendance at the Friday Morning Group. Since we tried to re-kick start the Group just before the end of last year, we have had mixed results. We had very good attendance after the holiday break. We have had good attendance when we have had special guests, such as County Commissioner Ken Welch or Roisin McDonough, Director of the Northern Ireland Arts Council. But attendance at the FMG when there is no such guest on the agenda is spotty at best.

Various thoughts about group dynamics and life cycles were discussed. There was some discussion of what the focus of the group ought to be. We have lately narrowed the focus somewhat by focusing a lot of attention on the FMG Concept Paper with the Pinellas Prize and the Creativity Center. While those are important topics, it was suggested that they should not be the only focus of the FMG.

There was also a discussion about the every week nature of the meeting. Some thought was given to the idea that an every week meeting loses some of its feeling of speciality. The idea was floated that an effort should be made to make at least one meeting a month more of a special event, perhaps with a guest speaker or some other event type meeting.

Please let us know your thoughts on these or any other ideas you might have on increasing interest and attendance at the FMG. I can be reached by email at, or by phone 727-823-3074.

There was some discussion of the efforts to move the FMG Concept Paper proposals towards reality. I spoke before the County Commission twice last week on the subject of supporting artists in the community and the Concept Paper proposals specifically. I also attended a planning meeting of the Pinellas County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). It has been suggested to us by at least two County Commissioners that the CVB's funding is not subject to curtailment under the property tax proposals currently being debated in Tallahassee. Also, the CVB is geting a new director, D.T. Minich. While the CVB Director in Lee County, Mr. Minich used the community based artists there to market his community and as a way to break through the "clutter" of other beach communities in Florida. This seems like a promising line to pursue.

Speaking of things getting curtailed in the current tax cutting environment, I attended a very interesting City Council workshop in St. Petersburg last week. Ann Wykel presented a very interesting study on how to improve the Public Arts program in St. Petersburg. While the Council Members who attended were impressed with the plan, they were hesitant to even have it formally presented to them at a televised meeting. The City is facing some very severe revenue shortages under any of the property tax reduction plans currently being debated by the legislature. As you might suspect, programs supporting arts, cultural and charitable activities of the City are prime targets for cuts. Please let your local elected officials know how you feel about these possibilities. It wouldn't hurt to let your state legislators know either.

And please try to attend a meeting of the Friday Morning Group in the near future. Bring a friend and let other interested folks know about us. We can use your help.

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