Pinellas County Virtual Festival of the Arts announced

Creative partners throughout Pinellas County will present We Are Family: Pinellas County Virtual Festival of the Arts on Sunday, May 10, on Vimeo.

Featuring top performing and visual artists from the area, the event is a collaborative fundraising effort for the Pinellas Arts Community Relief Fund, providing immediate financial relief to artists, arts organizations and creative businesses. All proceeds raised from ticket revenue will go directly to the Pinellas Arts Community Relief Fund.

We Are Family will stream live via Vimeo with pre-fest and post-fest shows taking place on the Creative Pinellas Facebook page. Festival tickets are $12.50 and are available at creativepinellas.org/pcartsfest. Artists of all genres across all parts of Pinellas County will present music and dance, visual arts, literary readings and more. Participating artists include the Florida Bjorkestra, Helen Pruitt Wallace, Dundu Dole, Paul Wilborn and Eugenie Bondurant, the Al Downing Jazz Society, Mickett-Stackhouse Studio, Helen Hansen French and La Lucha, Shevonne Philmore, Shawn Brown and more to be announced.

“During these unprecedented times, it is so inspiring to see our community come even closer together with our gifts and talents to help each other,” said Alex Harris, the award-winning recording artist and co-founder of the Arts Conservatory for Teens who heads the committee organizing the festival. “In addition to helping the Arts Community Relief Fund, we are showcasing the community at its most creative and finest. We really are all in this together. I am so honored to reside among so many incredibly talented human beings and am looking forward to sharing the ‘stage’ from my and our homes to yours.”

The Arts Community Relief Fund was started by a partnership between Creative Pinellas, the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, the Pinellas Community Foundation and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. It has already distributed $97,800 of the $110,000 originally raised. The partnership is looking to this festival to help replenish the fund so that more grants can be given to address the continuing need in the arts community and help ensure that the vibrant arts and cultural landscape of Pinellas County remains intact through this current crisis and beyond.

“The success of the event and achievement of fundraising goals will only be possible with engagement from the entire community,” said Leigh K. Davis, Arts and Cultural Outreach manager with Creative Pinellas. “The arts and culture community in Pinellas County is an amazing intersection of people who are not only talented, innovative and creative; they are open, welcoming and engaged in many civic, business and social arenas. The Pinellas County Virtual Festival of the Arts is a way to show appreciation to those watching and participating for staying connected, resilient and uplifted during COVID-19 restrictions. It’s a way to highlight and develop partnerships that can expand into the future.”

The festival committee is currently securing sponsors for the event. For event and sponsorship information, call Davis at 404-808-7495 or email leigh.davis@creativepinellas.org.

To contribute to the Community Arts Relief Fund, visit pinellascf.org/pinellasartsrelief. For more information about Creative Pinellas and additional Creative Pinellas programs, visit creativepinellas.org.

West Coast Players looks forward to resuming live theater

CLEARWATER — West Coast Players is continuing to explore the many scenarios for its re-opening, according to an email from John Timberlake, president of the board, on behalf of the WCP board of directors.

“As we continue our commitment to the safety and well-being of our patrons, volunteers and actors, we remain committed to following the guidelines of the CDC and our local authorities,” Timberlake said.

WCP was forced to cancel the final two shows of its 2019-20 season due to the pandemic. The theater expects to open its 2020-21 season as scheduled on Friday, Aug. 7, with “The Ladies Foursome.” Information about season ticket plans, performances and sustaining donors will be shared as it becomes available and appropriate for distribution.

“I would like to personally offer a heartfelt thank you to those of you who donated your prepaid ticket fees to the theater,” Timberlake added. “As a volunteer nonprofit organization, we heavily rely upon the gifts and resources of our patrons and partners in order to meet our ongoing financial obligations during this difficult time.”

Timberlake concluded by saying it remains the board’s sincere hope to “bring up the lights” on a production in the very near future. For information about West Coast Players, visit wp2.wcplayers.org.

SPAA’s Funding Futures opens up to virtual summer arts camps

ST. PETERSBURG — Applications are now open to talented low-income students aged 10-17 in Pinellas County who aspire to be musicians, actors, dancers, writers or visual artists.

Students faced with financial need often prevent them from pursuing artistic fields. St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Student Award Program is dedicated to helping students nurture their creative interests and develop their expressive talent by providing funding to eligible students and connecting them to local summer arts camps both in person and now virtually.

Organizations can nominate a student to attend one of their summer arts camps virtually (or in person when restrictions are lifted) to help further their artistic success and SPAA will provide the funding. Parents can also submit student applications to attend a St. Petersburg arts camp either virtually or in person.

Funds may be used for:

  • Tuition for summer arts programs (virtual or live)
  • Musical instruments rental, purchase or repair
  • Equipment or supplies for a special artistic project
  • Individual instruction or master class tuition

“While we don’t know when our community will be allowed back to business as usual (whatever that may look like in the future), we do know that our students need our assistance right now,” said Tracy Kennard, associate director at St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “We are adapting our Funding Futures guidelines to allow for online instruction in virtual settings. As you know, creative thinking, problem solving, communication and cooperation are attributes and skills that are learned through the making of art all of which contribute to the mental and emotional growth of a child.”

Funding Futures is designed to identify and encourage talented at-risk emerging artists, ages 10-17 in Pinellas County seeking St. Petersburg programs in the categories of dance, music, jazz, voice, theater, digital arts, photography, cinematic arts or visual arts. The program is open to all talented artists regardless of ethnic, social background, or ability/disability.

For application information, email tracy@stpeteartsalliance.org.

MFA St. Pete remains closed due to pandemic

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg was the first museum in the Tampa Bay region to temporarily close on March 14 out of precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning May 4, museums were allowed to reopen at no more than 25% of their building occupancy as part of the new executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis. At this time, the MFA will remain closed.

“We will continue to monitor the data closely, and will reopen when we are confident that doing so would not jeopardize the health or safety of our staff and visitors,” said a press release from the museum. “While we are eager to serve our community as a place of safety and refuge, the well-being of our members, visitors, volunteers, and staff continues to be our top priority. The MFA staff has been thoughtfully planning a safe reopening strategy since we closed, and is using this time to implement essential safety protocols for reopening.”

Although its doors are currently closed, the MFA is "open" online to connect and engage with through its new digital initiative MFA from Home, daily social media posts (@mfastpete) and weekly emails. With MFA from Home, the museum is creating new ways to bring the MFA experience to anyone through:

  • Video highlights of the collection, special exhibitions and programs
  • Virtual events
  • Art Break activities for kids
  • Puzzles and games inspired by the MFA Collection
  • Staff favorites for music, movies and books

For more information, visit mfastpete.org