The community came together to mix and mingle at the Warehouse Arts District (WADA) Social Mixer on Aug. 24 at the charming, expansive Brick Street Clay Studio. Mayor Rick Kriseman made a surprise appearance and gave an engaging, supportive speech.
“As a city that prides itself on arts and culture, the Warehouse Arts District is crucial to that,” Kriseman said.
WADA Founding Board Member and Board President Mark Aeling and Membership Committee Chair Wendy Durand also took the floor to update the community about the explosion in growth of the organization over the past year. Membership has risen from 130 to 255, and the website receives 1,500 hits per month. The Facebook audience has reached nearly 30,000.
WADA and Deuces Live have formed a strategic partnership and have developed and are implementing the Warehouse Arts District Deuces Live Joint Action Plan to reinvigorate the 22nd Street and 5th Avenue corridor. Deuces Live’s website states:
“Together, this emerging area represents one of the most culturally vibrant, historically significant urban areas in the entire state of Florida. The goal of the project is to develop a joint framework plan with recommendations to the streetscape, open space, branding and wayfinding, private property enhancement as well as programs for events, investment and celebration of this diverse urban place.”
The city of St. Pete is now proceeding with phase two of the Joint Action Plan, which was approved by the City Council on June 15. The second phase will include bringing all of the public and stakeholders’ feedback and ideas to fruition, community development and education initiatives.
The room was abuzz about the future of WADA, Deuces Live, working with clay, the Joint Action Plan, and various artistic ventures. One upcoming WADA event is the lighting of the Pinellas Trail Sept. 20-24 “to create a corridor for egress, for activities, not only to bike but also to walk,” according to Aeling.
Founding board member Teresa Sullivan has been involved in WADA since the beginning. “The Warehouse Arts District appreciates and hopes to live up to the idea that we’re in the community and of the community,” she said. “We have much to learn from a community that has been here for decades.”
After WADA leaders and mayor Kriseman spoke, an enthralled crowd encircled local artist and owner-operator of Brick Street Clay Studio Nick Toebaas during his live clay demonstration. The pottery wheel has an unmistakably hypnotic effect. The audience oooh-ed and ahhh-ed at the skill and precision of Toebaas. As the event and the wheel wound down, excitement about the future and hope for a revitalized Midtown corridor were palpable throughout the clay-dusted studios.