Artists, arts leaders and representatives of arts organizations descended on Clearwater’s EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College on July 21 for the Regional Arts Summit co-hosted by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, Creative Pinellas, the Clearwater Arts Alliance and the North Pinellas Cultural Alliance. The summit offered an opportunity to explore the state of the arts in Pinellas County, recent accomplishments and future ambitions.
The Summit began with a lively talk by Keynote Speaker Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts. Cohen introduced Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, a study conducted in Pinellas County and throughout the Country surveying the economic impact of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. Cohen related his “Golden Rule” for when advocating for the arts: Never tell a story without numbers, never relate the numbers without a story. He did just this during the keynote address describing the impressive impact the arts have on the economy, the government as well as individuals and families of Pinellas County.
Cohen was followed by a discussion paneled by Leroy Bridges of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Jessica Eilerman of The Greenhouse, Bob Ironsmith of the City of Dunedin, Dr. Cynthia Johnson of the Small Business Development Center Pinellas County Economic Development and Commissioner Ken Welch of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and moderated by Creative Pinellas Executive Director Barbara St. Clair and St. Petersburg Arts Alliance Executive Director John Collins. The group spoke on the wide variety of resources available to artists and arts organizations throughout the County, shared anecdotes of these resources in use and some exciting results as well as the potential for further arts and cultural resources.
Following a luncheon and talks by guest speakers Founder and CEO of The Symphony Agency Lauren Davenport and Director of the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Sandy Shaughnessy, a pair of panel discussions explored the keys to import sources of funding for artists and organizations: sponsorships and grants.
Jeff Baker of Duke Energy, Michelle Cyr of AARP Florida and Ann Shaler of Bank of America comprised a panel moderated by Karen Eber Davis discussing keys to sponsorship. The group answered fundamental questions such as “What is your average sponsorship amount?” and “Should I contact you directly?” Eber Davis further drew out the panelists’ personal views on their biggest pet peeves of sponsorship proposals and the sorts of projects that get them most excited.
Eber Davis also moderated the final panel discussion of the day, Keys to Grant Making. Duggan Cooley III, Executive Director of the Pinellas Community Foundation, Michael Killoren, Executive Director of the Morean Arts Center, and Curtis Young, Arts Consultant for the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs offered practical advice for successful grant writing and applications.
Finally, the day ended with time for networking, reacquainting with arts and cultural colleagues, meeting new professionals, perhaps sparking new collaborations, projects and inspiration.