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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

New Creative Pinellas leader touts murals


ST. PETERSBURG — The spate of rainbow-tinged murals adorning more than a few of the downtown core’s external walls have been on Mitzi Gordon’s mind.

She’s probably not the only one who would like to see more of them on display throughout Pinellas County, but she is one of the few people trying to make that happen — legally, at least.

Gordon is the new director of Creative Pinellas, the nonprofit organization formed after the dissolution of the Department of Cultural Affairs, the county’s in-house arts funding arm in 2011.

Hired last month after former Executive Director T. Hampton Dohrman left, Gordon said she knows she has her hands full. Managing numerous events, a budget, scores of grant applications, workshop schedules and a possible Web site overhaul will be a challenge, but it’s one about which she said she’s “ridiculously excited.”

“The arts are something that I feel so passionate about,” Gordon said. “I think the arts are extremely important. They’re important to education and human enrichment.”

Gordon’s no newcomer to the scene. Prior to accepting her position as executive director, she was the organization’s editorial manager, a part-time position in which she promoted events through social media and Creative Pinellas’ arts and event promotion, ARTiculate Suncoast.

She has worked for the Dali Museum, VisitFlorida.com and Media General, The Tampa Tribune’s former parent company. The Tampa Bay Book Bus, a bus-turned-mobile bookstore and gallery, is another project of hers that’s visible throughout the region.

As executive director at Creative Pinellas, she said she will be carrying on much of Dohrman’s work, but will add a few ideas of her own, such as the murals.

She hopes to reach out to business owners and others who have outside walls to spare and raise money to cover supplies and pay local artists to create urban art. She would also like to organize mural tours to help raise their profile throughout the county.

Creative Pinellas is largely funded through revenue from “Support the Arts” specialty license plates, though grants and donations also play a role. It’s not much compared to the millions the Department of Cultural Affairs once handled, but it could be enough to offer some local artists avenues to create.

“Artists can do a lot with a little,” Gordon said. “If we can find small ways to support them with the effect of having more creative things going on around the county, that would be a success.”

The first Creative Pinellas event under Gordon’s watch is Beach Feast on March 27. A micro-funding event to benefit local artists through donations, it takes place Beach Arts Center on Indian Rocks Beach.


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