Gulfport Merchant’s Chamber Announces Artist Grants; Unveils Online ‘Gateway to the Arts’
Gulfport, FL: The artists’ community in Gulfport, an artists’ enclave long known for its public art and abundance of resident artists, is witnessing a financial commitment from the town’s business community unseen in years past – and artists are taking note. The Gulfport Merchant’s Chamber, the town’s association of business owners, recently announced the opening of the application for the town’s annual ‘Rise & Shine’ emerging artist grants, two grants valued at $1,000 each that will be awarded to Gulfport and Pinellas County artists meeting criteria listed on the town’s official Visit Gulfport, FL website (linked below). The deadline to apply is July 15 and the grants will be awarded one month later.
The Chamber also recently debuted its online ‘Gateway to the Arts,’ which houses their new membership program for artists, ‘Art Works Here,’ and other arts-related interests. Introduced last autumn at a town hall, ‘Art Works Here’ is a membership level designed by the Chamber specifically for artists and arts-supporting nonprofits. Dozens of local artists and organizations have joined since its debut and more continue to do so in the new online format.
The Chamber’s Arts Committee, headed by ceramicist Brenda McMahon, owner of Brenda McMahon Gallery in downtown Gulfport, oversees ‘Art Works Here’.
“This is another step in bringing working artists together with the small businesses of Gulfport. Both communities are very strong and ‘Art Works Here’ allows artists, who regularly work alone, more visibility and participation in our collective communities,” said McMahon.
The Chamber’s new ‘Gateway to the Arts’ portal also includes information on the town’s other artistic offerings; a newly rebranded First Friday Art Walk, Third Saturday Market, Gulfport Fine Arts Festival, a revamped Gulfport Arts Center and ArtJones, one of the region’s leading artists’ collectives.
An ‘Art Works Here’ membership is $50 annually and offers an array of benefits to the artists and arts-related 501 © 3 organizations and small businesses, including:
– A public listing or online catalog on the town’s official visitors website
– Promotion to 15,000 readers through the Chamber’s social media outlets
– Chamber co-hosting any virtual or actual openings or events
– Online photo collection on Chamber’s Flickr account
The Chamber has earmarked funds specifically for ‘Art Works Here’ events and promotions and maintains its commitment to the arts through the COVID-19 crisis.
James Briggs, owner of creative arts agency Carroway + Rose and a Board member of the Chamber, thinks the membership is a step in the right direction. “I think what you’re seeing with ‘Art Works Here’ is the professionalization of the arts community in Gulfport, much like neighboring town’s offer their artists through arts alliances and creative groups. But it’s also a democratization of the arts by opening the membership to any level of artist. That’s what excites me most about the membership – artists from anywhere and at any level can join,” said Briggs.
The Chamber also announced that a redesigned First Friday Art Walk and Third Saturday Market are tentatively scheduled to resume in October. Final decisions will be made as safety and circumstances warrant.
Barbara Banno, President of the Board of the Gulfport Merchant’s Chamber reaffirmed the business community’s commitment to the arts, saying “We’ve invested in a professionally branded and redesigned art walk, had great success with ArtJones and the Fine Arts Festival and, even if the face of COVID-19, are fulfilling our commitment to emerging artists with the Rise & Shine grant. Gulfport is an arts town first and foremost and you’re seeing the business community’s full support for our artists.”
To learn more about or apply for the Rise & Shine grant, please visit:
For more information on “Art Works Here’ artists and membership, please visit:
Founder / Carroway + Rose
Gulfport Merchant’s Chamber Board of Directors