Saturday, March 25, 2006

State of the Art

Interesting article in the Trib about 4 art venues, Covivant, Renaissance Center for the Arts, Kama Gallery and Bleu Acier Inc. in Seminole Heights and its neighboring environs and how they are faring. Two (Renaissance Center for the Arts, Kama Gallery) are not - dead in fact, and Bleu Acier is getting sick.

It's All About The Party
Skip directly to the full story.
Published: Mar 24, 2006

"If a gallery specializing in edgy new art can't make it in the Heights, it's hard to imagine any other part of Tampa sustaining cutting-edge cultural facilities . . .

So is it that the city isn't ready to embrace avant-garde art? Poor planning on the part of gallery owners? Or just the vagaries of the art business, which can be at least as fickle as the restaurant industry? . . .

. . . but there were recurring concerns: the cost of real estate, a grueling workload, legal issues and, most troubling of all, the fact that so few locals seem to be buying art."

It is important to Seminole Heights and to the Tampa arts community that Covivant not only stays alive but flourish.

Until the market catches up, many artists and gallery owners are hoping for a little outside help. A recent community town meeting on the arts, held at Covivant, drew a crowd eager for support. Mackin, for example, asked about the possibility of a fund to help galleries with marketing and promotions. But aside from small grants for artists and an e-mail database, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County made it clear that it doesn't have the resources to solve the starving-artist problem.

Kearney thinks the city will eventually need to step in, with business incentives or staggered rents, like it used to offer in Ybor City, or at least some legal advice on things such as serving wine at an art opening.

I think the City and local quasi governmental organizations should fund marketing of Tampa arts to Tampa residents, to those living outside of Tampa and to tourists. A creative city is a vibrant growing city. A city without arts is a dead city. We provide incentives to large corporations to bring business here, we should provide incentives to art venues and artists. The problem is that artists don't have rich lobbyists.

However, aside from getting the City to provide support, artists need to organize to get noticed. Organization is what gets Seminole Heights residents the power they have to get problems solved. Unfortunately, Seminole Heights and Central Tampa artists seem unable to organize. Nothing has really happened since the arts meeting a bit ago. Why? Are artists (painters, sculptors, writers, musicians, actors and etc) anti-social? Apathetic? I would not have thought that from the arts meeting. I heard people who were wanting to get going, to try to grab that collective power.

Someone needs to set up a meeting and open a call to artists.

How about this. Since there is going to be Central Tampa Artists at the Seminole Heights Garen Center on April 2 at the Old Seminole Heights Home Tour, why don't others show up at 3:00PM and mill around and plan an organizational meeting. Later meeting venues could be the Seminole Heights Library, the Katheryn Malone Center at Giddens Park, maybe the Metro Center, someone's house, or the band stand at River Crest park.

And the rest of us? Go buy some local art.

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