In a region fortunate to have so many cultural opportunities, there has been a lack of the collaboration that can help institutions grow their audiences and ambitions. At last week's summit of bay area visual and performing arts organizations, large and small, arts and cultural leaders talked about moving toward greater cooperation. It's a promising sign that can produce benefits for the entire community.
The summit's focus was a recognition that a collective voice is stronger than any single one. Together, the Tampa Bay region's arts and cultural community can forge more efficient ways to raise money, especially through new digital crowd-sourcing tools. Organizations can emphasize branding and marketing the region as a destination for cultural tourism. They also can coordinate advocacy so that local governments don't overlook support for arts and culture when deciding their spending priorities.
The hope is that there are more collaborations like the one between the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, which will feature a joint exhibition on emerging Chinese artists opening in June.
The area is primed for a bigger vision. Between 2002 and 2010 there was a nearly 40 percent jump in the number of artists, performers and writers in the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater area.
Traditionally, the area's arts institutions have seen themselves as competitors for private donors and public dollars. Those kinds of divisions can inhibit coordination in day-to-day operations and long-range planning. What could be a powerful and vibrant community in solidarity is less so when arts and cultural organizations don't see that their interests are aligned.