By Kathy Collins

The SouthShore Arts Council (SAC) has received a grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. The $15,000 grant is a matching grant, which means that SAC must raise $15,000 on its own by June in order to receive the grant.

When the SAC achieves this goal, it plans to re-establish a successful program of public art. In the past, the SAC has funded three murals (Head Heart and Hands, Seed To Bloom and Best Little Town) and completed a nationally recognized community based documentary film, South County.

According to Michael Parker, president of SAC, “The program will allow experienced artists to connect to the SouthShore region and work with community members through the process of public art. In the first year of the programming, we would like to facilitate between two and six artist-led community projects.”

Parker added, “This program’s main goal would be to help the SouthShore community use the process of public art to address specific needs and rejuvenate a sense of pride from within the neighborhood. Each of the previous projects created lasting bonds between community members that would not have otherwise existed. This aspect is extremely valuable to creating a sense of place within a neighborhood.”

The program also provides an opportunity for SAC to partner with other local organizations to expand on existing projects. An example of this is a proposed bridge over the Ruskin inlet which would connect the Firehouse Cultural Center to the Ruskin Library. According to Parker, “The South Shore Community Arts Program would be the perfect facilitator to hire an artist to enhance the bridge construction.”

Through the program, SAC will conduct a regional call to artists. A committee of art professionals will then judge the submitted proposals. The SAC will then administer the funding of the project along with interested community members.

The community can help SAC achieve its goal by attending upcoming fundraising events, making a donation or participating in the projects. Thus far, the SAC has raised $5,000 as a result of a collaboration with the South Shore Chamber of Commerce for the Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts and proceeds from the Big Draw Studio.

SAC has been funding and facilitating public art since 2004. For more information, contact Parker at 846-2000 or email info@southshoreartscouncil.org.