ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Creative Clay’s annual advocacy trip to Florida’s Capitol commences Monday, March 20, when CEO Kim Dohrman, Community Arts Director Emily Turnage and a team of artists and one parent will travel to Tallahassee for Developmental Disability Awareness Day (March 21) and Culture Day (March 22).
State Rep. Ben Diamond, of St. Petersburg, will host the group from 10 a.m. to noon on March 21 for a portrait-drawing session, which is a popular event for legislators and Capitol staff. This event gives Creative Clay artists a chance to meet and talk with legislators and staffers, educating them about the non-profit’s vision of making the arts accessible to all.
“We look forward to meeting with lawmakers and introducing them to our artists so they see first-hand the importance of organizations like Creative Clay that serve people with disabilities every day,” said Kim Dohrman, Creative Clay’s CEO. “Florida is ranked 50 in the United States based on low fiscal efforts for developmental disability services. That is not okay.”
This annual advocacy trip is a popular opportunity for Creative Clay member artists to take their message to the very individuals who impact funding. Member artists applied for a chance to be selected to travel to Tallahassee with the Creative Clay contingent, and applicants were chosen based on their answers to questions and independence level.
This year’s group of member artists traveling to Tallahassee includes Ali V., Dolores M., Heather V., Chris C. and Marquise R. In addition, Marquise’s mother Lenora will attend and staff the Creative Clay booth in the Capitol Rotunda while the artists draw portraits.
Dohrman and Turnage, along with the artists plan to discuss various topics relating to disability funding and awareness, including: increasing provider rates, continuing funding to meet the Department of Labor requirements, transitioning individuals off the Medwaiver wait list, providing transportation resources for individuals with disabilities and reinstating statewide and local advocacy councils for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Creative Clay team will wrap up its advocacy trip on March 21 to return to St. Petersburg, so will not be on hand in the Capitol for Culture Day. However, they do plan to talk with legislators about retaining state funding for the arts.
“Creative Clay is one of 638 vetted grant applicants that rely on state arts funding and we hope the legislature provides full support for the coming year,” said Dohrman. “According to the Americans for the arts, non-profit arts organizations support over 88 thousand full-time jobs throughout Florida and have an economic impact of over $3.1 billion. That’s significant.”
Creative Clay’s mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts by providing expressive, educational and vocational experiences. We serve people with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, as well as people in healthcare settings, children, veterans, and provide outreach art experiences in our community. Visit www.creativeclay.org.