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Tampa’s Gasparilla Festival of the Arts goes virtual

The festival will be juried.
Ummarid Eitharong of Orlando whose painting titled "Cosmic Moment" won the Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award at the 49th Annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in 2019. The festival will move online for its 51st year on March 6-7, 2021, but will continue to award prize money.
Ummarid Eitharong of Orlando whose painting titled "Cosmic Moment" won the Raymond James Financial Best of Show Award at the 49th Annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in 2019. The festival will move online for its 51st year on March 6-7, 2021, but will continue to award prize money.
Published Dec. 18, 2020

A late winter tradition in Tampa Bay, the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts will return March 6-7 this year. But this time, it will be virtual, happening on an interactive online platform called Eventeny.

John Scheffel, president of the festival’s board of directors, said there were plans to go ahead with an in-person festival but realizing it would be the only Gasparilla event still taking place that way made them rethink it.

“We made the difficult decision to do a virtual only event,” Scheffel said. “Which is sad, but also exciting because we have added a virtual component that we will use going forward.”

The virtual component is Eventeny, a platform that lets juried artists showcase their work to the public via online booths that are free to set up and can be maintained for the artist even after the festival. Scheffel said it’s set up very much like Amazon, so that shoppers can add works from a variety of artists to their carts.

It will also be a platform for a livestream of entertainment that the festival still plans to have, including online children’s activities and art demonstrations.

Another benefit to Eventeny is that the festival will go on for a longer amount of time. Donors and sponsors will have first dibs on work the week prior to the festival weekend, and the festival will stay online for three weeks after the weekend.

Scheffel said the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is the first virtual arts festival that is juried and will award prize money, which he said the artists consider “really huge.” The prize money will come from sponsorships.

With no booth fees to pay this year, artists have only had to pay an application fee. Scheffel said the festival will take a small percentage of artists’ sales.

Dr. Nadiah Rivera Fellah, associate curator of contemporary art at the Cleveland Museum of Art, is this year’s juror. Fellah will have to judge artists working in 13 different mediums.

Scheffel said the artists accepted into the upcoming virtual festival are automatically entered into the next year’s in-person festival.

The Emerging Artists program and the Local Artist’s Spotlight will also return, although Scheffel doesn’t know exactly what that will look like. He and the board of directors and committee are still working out details.

For updates, visit gasparillaarts.com.