Pinellas County agencies plan to curate Alt. U.S. 19 Cultural Corridor

Two county agencies -- Forward Pinellas and Creative Pinellas -- are joining forces to create an Alt. U.S. 19 Cultural Corridor.

It’s “a unique partnership,” says Rodney Chatman, planning division manager for Forward Pinellas, the county’s land use and transportation agency. “Our partnerships are usually with local governments or agencies involved in transportation.”

The duo plans to connect and highlight the arts and culture destinations along Alt. U.S. 19, which runs through northern Pinellas County cities including Largo, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs. 

“The area has a very strong arts and culture basis,” Chatman says. “So, we want to think about how to brand the Alt. 19 corridor as a cultural destination. But we needed to find an agency to help us with that. We don’t really talk to artists in the course of our work.” 

This is where Creative Pinellas, the county’s designated arts agency, comes in, he adds. Together, the agencies will lay a foundation to “strengthen Alt. 19 as a place for arts and culture,” he says. They began meeting in discuss the concept and the approach to the cultural corridor. 

Last month, for the first time, they invited the public to provide input on the plan at two workshops, one at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, the other at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater campus. Two upcoming workshops will be held Monday, July 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center and Monday, July 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo.

Chatman says they’ve been working to identify artistic and cultural “hubs and enclaves” along the thoroughfare. “There’s a lot of history that’s there, and also, I think there’s a tie to economic development, tourism and commerce if we’re able to pull this off.”

The agencies will create a categorized database of these artistic hotspots with geographic and descriptive information about them available as an online resource. “There isn’t currently a good inventory of public art installations, museums and galleries,” he says.

They’ll also discuss possible future locations of public art and cultural programming, he adds. This could range from utilizing vacant commercial spaces as pop-up galleries and canvasses for large-scale murals to incorporating designs by local artists at crosswalks and intersections.

“The nature of what we do really doesn’t interface with art or culture, and it’s sort of an interesting partnership because the land usage and transportation networks do traverse through these areas,” he adds. “And we’re starting to see more of an acknowledgment that we can plan and build roads differently and have more of a placemaker approach.”

For more information, visit the websites for Forward Pinellas and Creative Pinellas.

Read more articles by Tiffany Razzano.

Tiffany Razano is a Pinellas County-based writer and editor covering the City of Clearwater and other news and features in the Tampa Bay region for 83 Degrees.
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