Beach Art Faces Economic Thunderhead

Sand Key Sun IRB story-page-0I wrote this piece for the Sand Key Sun, a community newspaper.

Indian Rocks Beach, FL–Nestled behind Gulf Boulevard on Indian Rocks Beach is a quiet little boulevard that houses a gallery of works by local talent. The Beach Arts Center at 1515 Bay Palm Boulevard has been here for 30 years. And it, like every other small arts venue and group, faces tough times due to local government cutbacks.

“The city of Indian Rocks Beach found themselves with a very large deficit at the end of last year,” explains Grace Dimm, executive director of the center. “They cut all funding to service organizations. We don’t at this time know what the outcome of the county funding will be yet. It is being decided this week.”

Dimm says the center relies on donors and class fees to stay afloat. The center holds 15 to 20 classes per week for adults and children in all media, from painting and drawing to sculpture and pottery. A bulletin board in a hallway at the center reads, “Joyful Art that Feeds the Soul” and offers eight pages of class options. The center also hosts the annual Beauty and the Beach event featuring its renowned Chalk Walk sidewalk art exhibit, as well as no less than six juried shows each year. In addition to fundraising events, the center also opens its doors on the weekends for weddings, luncheons and workshops.

But it’s not easy to stay afloat without government funding. “We are in desperate need of sponsorships for next year,” Dimm says. “Our marketing committee is working on establishing different levels of sponsorship and the recognition we’ll provide each level. We’re in the early stages of that right now.”

Discreetly posted in a corner of the center’s atrium is a fundraising chart that reflects the center’s fundraising goal of $25,000. “It’s the amount we would have received from the city this year,” explains Dimm. The red marker is currently well below $5,000. Usually closed for the month of August, the center’s board elected to close it for July as well this year due to the center’s ever-tightening budget.

However, the center keeps plugging away. Last month’s acrylic show produced a generous display of paintings, which yielded three winners. All works are for sale and many depict local scenes, such as a vibrant painting of the Tampa Theater a la 1940’s—complete with sailors and bobbysoxers. A Yupo (YOO-poh) piece of brilliantly colored shapes and designs also captures the eye. Yupo is a sleek surface that requires a steady hand and patient temperament. A Tuesday night Yupo class is taught by local artist Taylor Ikin.

Doug Land, another local talent, offers a six-part series of drawing workshops each Friday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. “I hope students will take away an understanding of drawing techniques and ideas to improve their own work, whether painting, drawing or whatever their medium is,” he says. “I really enjoy teaching here. It’s a great facility.”

Banner photo by ciwa.


*Some of the information in this older article may be outdated.


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