#HMB 217: Art is Dead & Government Unintentionally Helped to Kill It with THIRST
I like St. Petersburg. It may sometimes sound like I don't but I do. I have reverence and respect for it. A few of the people that live in it I wish would sometimes disappear in a rapture but instead of heaven, they would just reappear in Portland, Oregon or something. I think they would be a lot happier there and so would I. I can't take the cold and they already have those stupid, big wool hats they wear even in the summer on their heads like a yarmulke. Anyway...
I watched St. Pete turn into a hub for the arts over the past decade. I don't really know exactly why it happened and most of the people I've talked to aren't entirely sure either but I think it had a lot to do with the expansion of the USF St. Pete campus and making it a more appealing option to kids. People like being near the water. There were some taller building in town. It has a bigger city feel while remaining relatively small. It has a lot of the best of both worlds. It was easier to organize because of that. Creatives linked up and started doing things. Murals, music, whatever. The ball started rolling and didn't stop. It had the right mix of performers and venues and "do-ers", who organized it all. Sometimes things just come together in a strike of luck and chance.
With the expansion of the arts, new business' opened, mostly bars and restaurants. They can be an art form in their own right. The city saw in influx of visitors spending money at these new and hip places and went from meticulously painting over graffiti to allowing it to live in the alleyways of the city done by vandals looking to make their mark. More people started coming to look at those illegal murals and spending more money in town. The city, in a smart move fully embarrassed the organic movement and even started giving grants to artists. They chose a few to lead the arts movement. Some say that's where the problem started...
Government, however well meaning, has an innate ability to bungle anything it touches. With the grants, it created a hierarchy within the art scene. It made those artists more important and influential. Peers became competition for the grant money and animosity bloomed between some artists. It's a shame.- I have mixed emotions about it. I like that creatives are getting paid for their work but in-turn it has made some artists change their styles based on what is getting attention via grant money. THIRST saw it and called it to attention. He released a series of drawings on his Instagram mocking the work of many of the more prominent artists in the St. Pete Art Scene. Some laughed it off and others threatened violence in retaliation. I thought, at first, it may be a well played marketing move to highlight the scene in a different way like the Rap beefs of the 90's. So, #HMB 217 asks what the hell is going on with the current State of the St. Pete Art Scene?
What do you think? Are you worried about the direction of the arts in St. Petersburg? Leave a text or voicemail: (813) 693-2124 or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and listen to the podcast with THIRST below.
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