Artists & Writers Apply Here…
The article in the Tampa Bay Times about the Artists and Writers Balls in Ybor City in the 1980s might not have resonated with everyone but for many of us, the memories flowed. As the group founder says, “That’s when Ybor had balls.” But to call the group of artists who created these events party planners undermines their talents and their purpose.
Not many parties sought to re-create outer space in the Cuban Club, a four-floor historic building built in 1917 in Ybor City (photo at left). While the balls were visual eye candy – thanks to the playful imagination of the fearless leader, David Audet – they were also an effort to upset the social strata of Tampa society.
Theirs was not the segregated, all-male Gasparilla Parade but rather an all-inclusive ball of silliness and pure joy, amid four floors of music. What mattered most to those who put on the event was that there were new and different ideas in play. This was a new and nurturing focus in the Ybor arts’ district, an enclave inhabited at the time by a colony of like-minded individuals – artists!
Sadly, those artists would leave in the 1990s when the alcohol zoning changed and a head-banging bar scene took hold. Ybor City was never the same.
Today the Artists and Writers Group is still around and while it is not much more than some crazy-minded people who once put on those events in Ybor City, it is also a 501(c)3 non-profit group with a mission:
The purpose of the Artists and Writers Group is to develop and nurture cultural events that contribute a positive and meaningful experience to our community.
As an organization open to all like-minded individuals, the Artists and Writers Group respects the creative and cultural diversity of our community and is committed to equality, peace and social and economic justice. The Artists and Writers Group aspires to provide events and forums to serve the community by the exposure and sharing of these values.
I am the President of the Artists and Writers Group, and David Audet – the original organizer of the Artists and Writers Balls – is its Vice President. We are currently re-organizing our web site and re-assessing our purpose, and planning for new experiences to upset the social strata. When we have our new web site, I will re-post. We hope to be able to work with other artists in the Tampa Bay area who want to do more silliness, create more art, and stimulate imagination.