Creative Pinellas touts progress during budget presentation

LARGO — Creative Pinellas, a nonprofit local arts agency, has launched the ArtsCatalyst grant program to send hundreds of Pinellas County children to arts camps this summer.

LARGO — Creative Pinellas, a nonprofit local arts agency, has launched the ArtsCatalyst grant program to send hundreds of Pinellas County children to arts camps this summer. The deadline to apply is May 31.

Eligible campers must be between the ages of 5 and 18 and include students who receive a free or reduced lunch, attend a Title 1 school, live in a foster or group home, live in designated neighborhoods or meet other requirements. A complete list of requirements can be found at www.creativepinellas.org.

Campers can apply through Creative Pinellas to attend any arts camp of their choosing. These camps can be offered through community centers and city parks and recreation programs in addition to arts centers, museums and nonprofit organizations.

Barbara St. Clair, executive director of Creative Pinellas, said that while there are a number of arts centers and museums in northern and southern Pinellas County, there are fewer located mid county. Children living in these areas still have access to summer arts programming through municipal recreational programs, though, she said, and can apply for a grant to attend these programs. If approved for the grant, Creative Pinellas will directly pay the camp, she added.

“You have these clusters of arts centers and museums in the north or south, and not much here in the middle,” she said. “Transportation becomes an issue for children who live in, say, Largo. Then we realized that different cities throughout the county offer various arts specific camps.”

St. Clair added, “This allows us to make summer arts programming available to children throughout the entire county.”

Pam Milhan of Seminole is grateful for the opportunity to send her two oldest grandchildren to arts camp this summer.

Abigail, 9, and Archer, 6, who attend Bauder Elementary School, have elected to attend a weeklong summer camp at the Beach Arts Center. While Archer is looking forward to a fun summer experience, art is Abigail’s biggest “passion,” Milhan said.

Milhan added, “Abigail is very much into the arts. So, the fact that she can go to a full day arts camp is a big deal and I think will really teach her so many new skills. It just continues to help her identify herself as an artist.”

She’s grateful to Creative Pinellas for access to the ArtsCatalyst grant and believes it will have an impact on many children throughout the county.

“People need to know that this resource exists,” Milhan said, “especially foster parents and other guardians and caregivers. These summer arts programs are all over the place, but they can be very pricey. This grant makes it accessible to everyone.”