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From geek cons to Pride to Beyonce, our top arts and entertainment stories of 2016

On Day 1 of 2016, so much of it would have felt absurd.

So much of what? All of it. Over the next week, all departments in the Times will dissect the newsy ways in which the world and Tampa Bay changed in 2016. We're looking back at all the tremendous features stories we lived through in 2016 on our Soundcheck and Feed blogs at

The year was tinged with melancholy on arts and entertainment fronts, from the Pulse shooting in Orlando and its ripple effects into Tampa Bay to the ongoing struggle for meaningful diversity in filmmaking. We said goodbye to two wonderful friends in our own pages this year. Outdoors editor Terry Tomalin died of a heart attack in May. And art critic Lennie Bennett recently retired (though you'll still see her writing from time to time).

We also celebrate all the extraordinary things we've been lucky to witness and analyze for you this year. Here are the biggest stories that filled your weekends in 2016.

Nerdcore growing

We could barely go a month without a new geek convention in Tampa Bay. Metrocon in July. Tampa Bay Comic Con and the Grand Brony Gala in August. MegaCon Tampa Bay, the Time Lord Fest and Necronomicon in October. ShadoCon in November. Clearly anime, comic books, video games and science fiction ruled in 2016. It's no coincidence that one of the most popular Halloween costumes this year was Harley Quinn, the version we met in 2016's Suicide Squad.


2016 was the Academy Awards' second consecutive year with no acting nominees of color. And a report from the University of Southern California found major film and television studios have a diversity problem that runs the gamut for women, minorities and LGBT people. The academy is making efforts to offer more voting seats to non-whites and women and take away lifetime voting privileges. We'll see what any of it means this year.

Arts on the move

The Tampa Bay visual arts scene welcomed impressive exhibits, from the gargantuan heads of Jaume Plensa at the Tampa Museum of Art to the inspiring Disney mash-up at the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg to the Beach Tampa that turned Amalie Arena into a giant interactive ball pit/art exhibit. The Chihuly Collection expanded into a new location, and we also saw plans developing from two incoming St. Petersburg museums, the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement and the Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

Women of stage

Powerful women ruled Tampa Bay stages this year. Let's review just a part of the exhaustive list of performers who graced our neck of the woods in 2016: Beyoncé; Rihanna; Stevie Nicks; Ellie Goulding; Tegan and Sara; Bonnie Raitt; Chrissie Hynde; Miranda Lambert; the Dixie Chicks. Amy Schumer made major headlines when she stopped in Tampa in talked smack about Donald Trump, causing guests to walk out. And who can forget the single week that brought us Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand?

Pride in stride

The shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub was jarring and horrifying. I'll never forget where I was when I heard — in a hotel in Miami for my birthday, about to go to a drag queen brunch that ended up filled with tears and resilience. That spirit carried through 2016's pride parades, including St. Pete Pride, where revelers carried candles and signs with names of fallen victims, and then turned the tone to one of jubilation and fearlessness. Let's take it with us into 2017.

From geek cons to Pride to Beyonce, our top arts and entertainment stories of 2016 12/27/16 [Last modified: Monday, December 26, 2016 11:24am]
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