We all love to visit and live in cities teeming with local art, but vibrant art communities don’t just emerge – they need to be nurtured, nurtured and nurtured.
Often the very artists who bring beauty, culture and life to our cities are among the first to be driven out by rising costs – because of the value they have helped create.
So if you enjoy browsing galleries, taking selfies in front of murals, enjoying live music, and being blown away by live performances, here are seven ways you can support a thriving arts community in the Tampa Bay area.
1. Buy art
Skip the mass-produced interior design and head to the many galleries around Tampa and the Bay Area to shop for local art under the guidance of a professional curator. Buy from a non-profit gallery like Tempus Projects, and you support an artist and one not-for-profit arts organization at a time.
For those on a budget, fairs and street markets tend to be priced lower and you will likely have the opportunity to meet the artist. Search local event calendars to find one of the many arts events that take place each week.
Building a collector base that focuses on local talent is an essential pillar in founding a sustainable art scene.
2. Encourage local government and businesses to buy art
City and county governments and businesses large and small often have budgets for indoor and outdoor art as well as for performances. Elected leaders, business owners, employees, customers and voters influence the source of works of art and performances – be that influence.
Look at the local creative community first, rather than big box or out-of-state stores. If you’re having trouble finding the right artist, contact a local nonprofit arts organization for recommendations.
3. Introduce yourself
To pursue 83 degrees, Bay Art Files, Quaid Gallery, Parallelogram Gallery, Graphicstudio and other creators, galleries, nonprofits, social media venues and event planners to keep tabs on upcoming events such as social media receptions. opening, conferences, performances and markets. Then just introduce yourself. Buying tickets, buying “merchandise” and just being there helps all artists and builds the resources that support them.
4. Practice radical inclusiveness
It is common for a few people to rise in the ranks and become the essential artists of the region. While recognition is (usually!) Deserved, it is important to look beyond the first ones that come to mind. Approach art buying and support for artists with a goal of equitable inclusion, prioritizing BIPOC, LGBTQ +, disabled, early-career and other under-represented artists. This is not a competition – rising tides lift all boats. A bigger, stronger and more diverse arts community benefits everyone.
Like most non-profit organizations, those working in the arts rely heavily on volunteers. Contact us to see how you can serve on an active board or committee, or help with a one-time program or event. While volunteers should expect nothing in return, the rewards of volunteering go far beyond selflessness: you’ll network professionally, make friends, add to your resume, and probably have fun too.
6. Make a donation
Funders and donors are absolutely essential to maintaining an artistic community. City, county and state grants; family foundations, such as the Gobioff Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation in Tampa; community foundations such as the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay; corporate charitable giving programs; and private donors large and small all provide the funding that keeps the doors open for artistic nonprofits and the lights on for local artists.
You can donate directly to one of the many nonprofit arts organizations in the Tampa Bay area by visiting their website or contacting their development staff to set up a corporate donation. Donations to 501c3 organizations are tax deductible.
7. Support for-profit businesses
Investing in and patronizing for-profit businesses that support the arts and artists is another way to build a long-term foundation for the arts in the community. For example, Tampa-based LiveWork Studios hires artists to create unique commercial and residential interiors, and Labyrinth Studios in Seminole Heights runs artist-taught classes and sells artwork at a retail store.
Two new attractions, Crab Devil’s The Peninsularium in Tampa and Fairgrounds in St. Pete, will open soon. The two hire local artists to design unique installations that will draw visitors from all over the world. These companies not only generate income, but also give artists experience in producing large-scale projects that they can leverage to earn future commissions.
Keeping in mind our growing arts community is imperative and should become standard practice for all who appreciate the diversity of arts and culture in our city. We can all do things big and small to build a more impactful and vibrant Tampa Bay.
Tracy Midulla, an arts teacher at Hillsborough Community College, is the Founder and Creative Director of Tempus Projects, a community-driven ideas incubator to promote artists working in all media. Located in Seminole Heights in Tampa, Tempus Projects has greatly contributed to the emergence of the neighborhood as a unique and creative local destination and received the Creative Loafing’s Best Alternative Art Space “Best of the Bay” award in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Tracy received a BFA in Printmaking and Sculpture from the Atlanta College of Art and an MFA from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
Related Stories: 83 Degree Arts Field of Interest.
Midulla’s Appearance at Cafe con Tampa: Teaching Tampa to Fish, June 4, 2021