St. Petersburg officials are proud of the major cultural attractions that have contributed to the city's reputation as a center for the arts, including the Salvador Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection, American Stage and the Museum of Fine Arts. But they also want to support artists working in a more modest realm: their homes. They have embraced the establishment of artist enclaves in city neighborhoods so that artists can produce their work and receive customers in their homes. It's an approach bound to attract more working artists and help those already living in the city thrive.
Two St. Petersburg neighborhoods with dozens of resident artisans, Historic Kenwood and the Old Southeast, have collaborated with the city on a set of carefully crafted standards for the enclaves.
Artists practicing visual, performing or cultural arts and living in city-approved enclaves will be able to do their work at home and see customers there. That will set them apart from other home-based businesses in the city that are not allowed to serve customers at home. Enclaves also will be allowed to conduct up to 12 special events, such as art shows, each year.
But the artists will have to abide by rules essential to protecting other residents of the neighborhoods. Enclaves, which must be at least a block in size, will be established by the city only if two-thirds of the property owners approve. Artists can see no more than four customers per day. They may not display their wares outdoors. They will have to abide by the city noise ordinance and other regulations that apply to residential areas. Such caution is necessary when inviting commerce into established neighborhoods.
City officials hope the enclaves will help preserve older neighborhoods, grow the population of working artists and lead to new galleries and shops in commercial areas such as downtown's Grand Central district. That's what has happened in other cities with artist enclaves, including Portland, Ore., and Asheville, N.C. In St. Petersburg, artist enclaves will bolster the city's reputation as a place that values and nurtures the arts at all levels.