Brimming with Excitement

Pinellas Arts Coast Cultural Plan
Brings Energy and Possibilities

. . .

Brimming with excitement. That is how it feels to have been awarded the Emerging Artist Grant from Creative Pinellas.

I admit that painting on larger canvases instills a healthy habit of stepping back to look at the bigger picture. So I have chosen these words “brimming with excitement” intentionally as they were also exact words used by Duggan Cooley, CEO of Pinellas Community Foundation, in his introduction for the CURRENT: Arts Coast Cultural Plan Launch.

As excited as I am about receiving the grant, I am even more excited when I look at the wider picture and the cultural planning developments underway for Pinellas County.

We are at the beginning phases on the timeline for an Arts Coast Cultural Plan. Creative Pinellas, Pinellas Community Foundation, Visit St.Petersburg/Clearwater and others are working with the national firm, Cultural Planning Group (CPG), to put together an Arts Coast Cultural Plan.

The first part was the WE Convene series that took place in 2022 co-hosted by area arts leaders including the Florida Orchestra, St. Petersburg Art Alliance, Clearwater Arts Alliance, the Woodson African American Museum of Florida, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Forward Pinellas and Arts4All.

WE Convene: Performing Arts | Photo By Priscilla Wyatt

The WE Convene meetings featured six small group discussions featuring guest speakers from within and outside Pinellas County who shared their pioneering approaches to sustain, nurture and grow the arts, and to innovatively solve key challenges in their communities. WE Convene concluded in a Town Hall meeting in October with findings from the previous sessions.

October 19 was the launch of the next phase, CURRENT. At this more intimate meeting we were asked to discuss three topics.

    • What are some of the unique aspects of the arts and cultural life in Pinellas County?
    • What are some of the key challenges the creative sector faces?
    • What do we want to be different as a result of this plan?

Many of us had similar comments, concerns, and constructive ideas for change. Pinellas County offers a diverse plethora of art and cultural events – so much that navigating what’s happening at any given time can be somewhat challenging.

Funding for the creative sector has increased immensely, although there is a need to ensure the sustainability and security of the sources of funding.

The county understands the importance of art for children – I immediately thought of the Dali On the Fly mobile exhibition and how great it was that museums are bringing their world to students that do not have access.

Pinellas County schools also encourage students by entering work into local art shows like 2023-24 A Creative StART at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

Pinellas County Schools March 2022 Exhibit at the Creative Pinellas Gallery

At the beginning of the session Duggan Cooley also asked us to look around and think about who is not in the room but should be?

Immediately my mind went to people like Gene Coppola, former Palm Harbor Library Director, who understands that our communities benefit when citizens are exposed to the arts and culture from an early age.

I also thought of children, as they are future cultural consumers.

The rainbow xylophone, with its color-coded sheet music, at Palm Harbor Library’s musical garden – photo by Jennifer Ring

What I took away from the meeting was that it is up to us as creatives to build encouragement, address issues, and raise awareness. So I thank everyone at Creative Pinellas who have dedicated time and effort into putting together the strong foundation from which we can build a bigger and brighter creative community in Pinellas County.


I am brimming with excitement about what the future holds for me and my three children.

Harriet Monzon-Aguirre analyzing a new oil painting at her Bahia Studios

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