Seven months ago, Pinellas County began an experiment in nurturing the arts. Following the dissolution of its traditional grant-making arts council, Pinellas County Cultural Affairs, due to budget cuts in late 2010, the county made plans for a successor agency intended primarily to generate attention for Pinellas artists and arts organizations rather than funding them. With $300,000 in seed money and the hiring of director T. Hampton Dohrman in December, Creative Pinellas was born.
Last week, a major manifestation of the new organization’s mission— the promotional website and blogging initiative called Articulate— went live online. Designed to harness the power of informal journalism for arts marketing, the site publishes regular contributions by a dozen community bloggers who include current and former arts journalists, artists of various disciplines and other arts lovers. Along with events listings, photos and videos, Articulate offers up their opinionated ruminations on the state of the arts in specific genres (e.g., Pinellas’s literary scene), artist profiles and stories about exhibits and concerts.
"It serves the purpose of promoting and marketing artists in Pinellas County because you've got it straight from the source of a person who’s embedded with it,” says Mitzi Gordon, Creative Pinellas media manager.
Gordon, who was hired about four months ago to help conceive and supervise the project, is known to many in Tampa Bay’s arts community for her past work at the Dalí Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art. At those museums, she helped develop marketing and membership programs, but her background also includes a degree in journalism from NYU and experience as a reporter and editor for Media General, publisher of The Tampa Tribune. She is also the creative force behind Bluebird Books.
To her team of contributors, Gordon has recruited seasoned writers Gina Vivinetto, once pop music critic for The Tampa Bay Times, and Scott Harrell, a regular contributor to CL. (Harrell will write about music for Articulate, while Vivinetto’s beat will include literary arts.) Artists including experimental musician David Manson, who will blog about music beyond the boundaries of pop and rock, and poet David William Durney will offer first-hand insight into their respective genres. Other bloggers include Marysia Lopez and Danny Olda (visual art), Alexis Quinn Chamberlain (fashion), Tony Armer (film) and Katie Mulford (theatre). They will write across genres according to their interests.
For now, Articulate is still in a “soft launch” phase, Gordon says. By the end of the month, visitors to the site should expect to find more content and regular updates. Tracking down news outside of St. Petersburg, the Pinellas city with the greatest reputation as an arts hub, is at the top of her to-do list.
“We will be trying to extend coverage to every corner of Pinellas County — Clearwater, Dunedin, Gulfport. But it's going to take some time and some digging in to help me find out what's going on out there,” Gordon says.