That was one of the questions that came up last Friday at the Friday Morning Group. We had Ed Montanari, candidate for St. Pete City Council District 3 in the hot seat.
To his credit, Ed came in reasonably well prepared. He was quite familiar with the economic benefits the arts have provided to this state, and particularly to our community. While that is something most of us are very well aware of, not that many political candidates get that fact. Unless, of course, we had beaten it into them.
Of course we talked about the art funding situation given the city's current budget constraints. Ed acknowledged that budget issues were the big issue for the City Council right now. Ed described a strategic view of the issue. He pledged to work to increase the City's tax base as a way to provide more revenue for arts funding for the City. He is looking forward to projects like the Chihuli museum creating more jobs. Also he wants to work with the City's Economic Development department to get some of the City's underutilized assets up to their full potential.
In that regard, one of our old friendly discussion areas came up - the Manhattan Casino. We kicked around ideas for the Manhattan Casino over four years ago at the Friday Morning Group. And still the building sits empty.
All that talk of economic development finally was a bit much for one of our members. She reminded us all that she is involved in and enjoys the arts for the quality of life that they bring to her and to all of us. The arts always make us richer. And it isn't always about the money.
We had a special drop in guest last Friday morning as well. St. Petersburg City Council Member Herb Polson dropped in at the beginning of the meeting. He wanted to let us know that the City is going to be updating its Cultural Plan. A presentation on the update is to be made to the Council's Policy and Planning Committee this Thursday, October 11, at 9:30 AM. The meeting will be at City Hall in the Community Resource Room. Herb urged anyone interested in the City's Cultural Plan to show up for this meeting. After all, it is the Cultural Plan. Seems like artists should have some input.
We extend our thanks to Herb Polson and also for Ed Montanari for sharing their Friday Morning with us. We hope you will do the same next Friday Morning.