Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Time for Pinellas to reinvest in the arts

RECOMMENDED READING


It has been five years since Pinellas County allocated general revenue money to support the arts. Now the economic recession has passed, tax revenue is up, and it is time to start investing again in one of the county's best features, a vibrant arts scene that stretches from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. As county commissioners meet today to listen to budget proposals for 2015-16, they should pay particular attention to a modest proposal to resume investing in the arts.

Creative Pinellas, the nonprofit founded five years ago that is the county's designated local arts agency, will pitch a plan to invest $300,000 a year for the next three years to improve marketing efforts and provide small direct grants to artists and education programs. The organization has just one full-time employee, executive director Mitzi Gordon, and it needs to grow into a more vigorous operation that is comparable to its peers in other metro regions. Half of the money, $150,000, would be used to help pay for such basics as hiring a full-time media manager and improving the organization's website. A marketing package also would be created for artists and organizations to use, and a comprehensive events calendar would be added.

Portions of the other half of the money Creative Pinellas is seeking would go to modest grants of up to $3,500 to individual artists and organizations. There are many worthy efforts to support, but commissioners should demand a thorough grant screening process and appropriate oversight. As in any direct grants of public money, there is the potential for waste and abuse that could tarnish an otherwise laudable effort.

The Pinellas arts community has flourished, particularly as the economy has come back. The offerings and opportunities vary from well-established museums and the Florida Orchestra to popular art walks and theater productions, from the growing Warehouse Arts District in St. Petersburg to individual studios throughout Pinellas. In St. Petersburg alone, a recent study found the city's nonprofit arts and cultural organizations brought a direct and indirect economic impact of $212 million last year and sustained more than 800 jobs.

But like the tourism industry and other segments of the local economy, the arts should be nurtured and promoted. The Creative Pinellas proposal for $300,000 next year from the county is modest compared to the public tax money flowing to local arts agencies in Jacksonville, Miami-Dade County and Hillsborough County. St. Petersburg began restoring arts money in its city budget this year, with $200,000, and Mayor Rick Kriseman hired a veteran arts leader to upgrade the city's cultural affairs office. Pinellas should start reinvesting in the arts as well, and today's County Commission workshop is an excellent opportunity to begin the conversation about how and how much.

Comments

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nation’s budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more — s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldn’t back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17