I believe the Arts is one of our most significant assets and one that is of great interest nationally and globally. - Rick Baker
St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
This is the seventh of an eight-part series detailing the Rick Baker Plan for St. Petersburg.
From the Rick Baker BLUEPRINT for St. Pete
For more than eight years as Mayor, Rick Baker worked to transform St. Petersburg into a modern, prosperous, safe, neighborhood- friendly and seamless city. From jobs and economic empowerment, to schools, neighborhoods, the arts, our environment, and public safety, this “blueprint” will guide Rick Baker’s efforts to restore competence, commitment and honesty to City Hall.
Any successful city must have great jobs and a vibrant economy so all residents can earn the type of living that provides the greatest opportunity for themselves and their children. That is why I want St Pete to once again become a dynamic leader on this front, leaving no one behind.
- Thanks to many people over multiple decades, we have developed an amazing arts scene in St. Petersburg. On any given evening the richness of our creative citizens is on display in theater, music (ranging from jazz and classical to hip hop and choral), ballet and dance, visual artists (both world renowned and emerging), film festivals, and of course our incredible mural fest! What a gift our artistic citizens give us, yet most of them pursue their passions despite the obstacles of finances. Our current city administration has boasted greatly about the arts when talking about the city, but could have done more to encourage and accelerate this important area. I believe the Arts is one of our most significant assets and one that is of great interest nationally and globally. It’s time City Hall understood that, and did something about it.
- We will aggressively move to market the arts. I will empower a senior level arts position in my administration to be responsible for marketing, arts, communication, culture, international, branding, and promotion with overlaps into education and economic development. Marketing this great asset is important not only for the economic success of the artists but also for the city as a whole. Arts creates jobs. Arts draws tourists. Arts defines a community.
- We have heard from many members of the arts community that having an arts degree available in St. Petersburg would further our presence in the global art world. We worked hard to obtain the Savannah College of Art and Design here when I was mayor, and nearly succeeded. I commit to pursuing such a degree here, either in partnership with USFSP, Eckerd College, SPC, or by enticing a degree program to
- I will direct my senior staff to look for ways to connect our art scene with national and global events. We want our artists to be noticed and we want to assist them in finding buyers and viewers. There is no reason why we should not have a presence at Art Basel in Miami (one of the largest art gatherings in the world).
- Our marketing and promotion efforts should work in concert with all of the arts organizations. The Arts Alliance does a terrific job and we need to look for more ways to partner with them and with Creative Pinellas in furthering the marketing.
- One of my personal passions is playing the guitar, so I have had a love of music for a very long time. We have so many incredible musicians in our area and our administration will look for ways to expand and market music from and for St Pete. I like what Et Cultura has done locally and will encourage that event, and others like it, that feature local musicians. Think Austin.
- Attract artists to relocate here by supporting efforts to expand work space for artist. Space in major areas like NYC and Los Angeles can be prohibitive for both experienced and young emerging artists. St. Petersburg offers a great place for creative expression, and historically has been more affordable, but as success comes, affordability is an issue.
- While I was mayor, we rebuilt the Mahaffey Theater and worked to bring the Dalí downtown along with Chihuly, the new American Stage, the Florida Orchestra headquarters, the SPC Palladium Theater, the expanded Fine Arts Museum, and others. We also created St. Pete Arts, a collaborative of arts administrators that ultimately led to the St. Pete Arts Alliance. After leaving office I co-founded the Warehouse Arts District. This is a great foundation, but we can do so much more if we turn words into actions!
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Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign
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