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Cross Bay ferries may return to Tampa Bay in the fall

The Cross Bay Ferry linking downtown Tampa with downtown St. Pete is gaining momentum to restart in November at the beginning of tourist season.

A separate ferry service connecting MacDill Air Force Base in south Tampa with southeast HIllsborough County, where many military personnel live, is also in the works. 

Read the complete story.
 

Brightline proposes express rail connecting Tampa to West Palm Beach through Orlando

Seven years after rejecting federal taxpayer money (paid by Floridians) to build high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announces new interest by a private company in doing the same.

Brightline, a private firm already building a Miami to West Palm Beach high-speed rail system, is now seeking access to right-of-way along the I-4 corridor to extend the track to Tampa. 

Read the complete story.
 

Wow! Free rides on Tampa streetcars till 2021

A significant Florida Department of Transportation grant awarded to the Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority means free rides on Tampa streetcars for the next three years.

The free rides will enable people to get easily between downtown and Ybor City with greater frequency and by paying nothing at the fare box.

Read the complete story.
 

New grassroots effort calls for transportation solutions, Tampa Bay Area

A private group of business and community leaders in Tampa is pushing for a sales tax increase to support better transportation solutions.

The grassroots effort is endorsed by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and many others who recognize solutions will benefit all.

Read the complete story.
 

New community-based grant program led by Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Many project-based grants given to arts organizations tend to be in centralized community hubs radiating from the downtown area, but what about the folks living on the outer edges of the county that might not have access to these programs?

Starting with the current Cultural Development Grants as a guideline, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County’s (ACHC) has pulled together a smaller sister program called the Community Arts Impact Grants (CAIG), which aim to bring the arts to underserved communities across Hillsborough County.

“Last year with our Cultural Development Grants program that has larger awards, we had a couple of organizations that were very small and applying for the first time without much experience,'' says Terri Simons, Director of Programs and Communications of the ACHC. "It became clear that there was a need for something that would help small organizations in the outer reaches of the county that had very worthy projects, and where it was easier to apply. We wanted something that would help incubate these programs so they could learn how to apply for grants while also noting that they have a different population to serve.”

Though this new CAIG grant is smaller, it’s still significant: Applicants can ask for up to $5,000 to support a specific arts- or culture-centered project, which could be anything from classes to murals or many other options.

The main prerequisite is that it brings these kinds of programs to areas of the county that don’t have immediate access to it (whether it be boundaries of geography, ethnicity, age, or disabilities) to bring inclusivity to the arts. Applications are due by Friday, July 13, at 4 p.m.

“The program could also serve veterans or people with special needs. Many parts of the county don’t have a formal cultural center building like Carrollwood, or the one in New Tampa they are currently working on. We’re hoping that organizations in underserved areas will be asking for grants. Applicants don’t necessarily have to be an arts or cultural nonprofit, but they could be. It could also be a neighborhood association partnering with an arts nonprofit,” Simons says.

The ACHC anticipates at least 24 of these grants to be dispersed, and they are hoping to soon have all parts of the grant process online.

Because smaller organizations are volunteer-run and might not have experience, an application workshop for both this CAIG Grant as well as the Cultural Development Grant will be held on Monday, May 21, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. Registration online at this link is required.

“This CAIG grant is pretty short and the application workshop will help applicants through that, as well as gathering more information about it. The workshop will cover both grants for cultural grants, but applicants cannot apply to both. There are different requirements for each program and this workshop will help organizations determine which one to apply to,” Simons says.

Nonprofit Grants Workshops are planned in two locations: May 21 at 10 a.m. in Ybor City; and May 30 at 10 am in Riverview. Registration is requested -- at TampaArts.org.

Tampa business leaders, Rays team up for new stadium

Baseball forever! That's the new mantra touted by business leaders behind an effort to build the Tampa Bay Rays a new stadium in Ybor City, just minutes from downtown Tampa.

Chuck Sykes and Ron Christaldi, along with elected officials Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, say a new stadium would be a good investment for the region. 

Read the complete story.
 

Art Snax: Julie Heffernan at UT, other art events on local menu

For those who fear the future of our Floridian lifestyle due to climate change, Julie Heffernan’s solo exhibition “When the Water Rises” at University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery provides alternatives to living in the potential world that awaits us in the future.
 
Always a stickler for detailed narrative paintings depicting the figure, her work changed significantly in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina and 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, with the climate change conversation starting to swirl.
 
“I realized that if I could be yelling from the rooftops about these issues, I would, but that wouldn’t be as effective than using my skills as a painter as a bullet point for change. I use painting to work through the things I hear through media,” Heffernan says during her artist talk.
 
Mixing a bit of the strangeness of Hieronymus Bosch with the sublime of a J.M.W. Turner, Heffernan exhibits her strengths in “imagination calisthenics” as she calls it.
 
“The thing that is impressive about her work is how intense the work is with labor, research, and thinking. It’s storytelling that reveals itself over time,” says Francesca Bacci, UT Associate Professor and curator, during Heffernan’s artist talk on Wednesday.
 
You still have time to revel in the exquisite detail of her allegorical paintings: her exhibition will be open through March 3. Learn more here.
 
Other upcoming art events in Hillsborough County:
 
  • There’s something oddly satisfying about watching someone paint. On Feb. 1, Enrico Isamu Oyama will be presenting a live painting performance at USF’s Carolyn M. Wilson Gallery from 5-7 p.m. Using the full-body motions and sweeping gestures with his arms (and even implementing a ladder), you get to see action painting -- but still in action.
  • It’s about that time to peek into some more artists’ workspaces. The Santaella Studios Art Show and Open House kicks off on Feb. 2 to celebrate new beginnings in the studio and meet the artists. A portion of proceeds from this event will go towards Children’s Cancer Center.
  • Most museums discourage touching the art, but the Glazer Children’s Museum newest interactive installation “Light Cloud” created by Ivan Depeña insists that you put your hands all over it. On Feb. 2 at 10 a.m., the public is invited to a ribbon-cutting event to enjoy playing with the art by touching various sensors that change the light and sound inside the cloud. Not just for fun, this kind of interactive learning will educate kids (and adults alike) in mixing colored light.
  • It ain’t Ybor if there ain’t chicks! Well, chickens, that is. Featuring these beloved feathered friends (or foes, depending on if they’re in attack mode), Lynn Rattray’s paintings in “The Chicken Dance: Ybor Style” will be on display Feb. 4-March 4 at The Bunker in Ybor. A portion of the art sales will even be gifted to the Ybor Chickens Society.
  • Can’t escape to New Orleans to celebrate a legit Mardi Gras? Get your fix with “T-Bone Hamilton Big East Revue Mardi Gras Celebration” at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. Make sure to bring your dancin’ shoes and your ticket: advanced pricing is $18 members/$23 non-members. You can still get in the day of the show for $23 members/$28 non-members.
  • It’s hard not to be a sucker for Highwaymen paintings: they depict the essence of Florida from a humble, truthful viewpoint with luscious palettes. On Feb. 11, Gary Monroe will be speaking about these artists during “Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters” at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center.
  • If you can’t mentally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, “Picture My Life: A Refugee Story” attaches visuals to experience. In a photo-based mentor program, a dozen refugee youth currently living in Tampa Bay are given cameras to document their experience. Their work will be shown on Feb. 22 at the FMoPA.
  • Coming together for the cause, the Heights Unites Music & Arts Festival on Feb. 24 plans to raise money for local improvement projects in the neighborhood and to kick-start a scholarship in the name of recent homicide victims from the Seminole Heights killer. Brought to life by the South Seminole Heights Civic Association and Brew Bus Brewing, the neighborhood will revitalize with music from almost two dozen local musicians, live mural painting, and many other events throughout the day.
  • Part Irish dance, part drama: “Rhythm in the Night, The Irish Dance Spectacular” at Busch Gardens ties traditional Irish dancing to the narrative of a hero’s rise from the ashes. And see if your eyes can follow their feet! Show dates range from Feb. 26 through Mar. 3.
  • Well, the main arts event of the year hardly needs an introduction, but the 48th Annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts will once again return to Curtis Hixon Park on Mar. 3-4. Growing larger each year (or so it seems), it always brings quite the crowd with over 250 vendors, live music, great food truck snacks, and the Emerging Artist booths -- which is always a fan favorite.

Call for site-specific public art for Water Street Tampa

Just when artistic opportunities seem few and far between, there come some heavy-hitting ones like this: A professional artist is sought to create a site-specific piece of public art to be incorporated into the open plaza area -- designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects -- located between the new USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute and the Water Street Tampa Community Wellness Center’s office tower in  downtown Tampa.
 
The project budget is $600,000, with three funding sources of the city, which is contributing $400,000; USF, contributing 100,000; and Strategic Property Partners, LLC adding in $100,000. The project is to be completed by Spring 2020. Applications are due Feb. 23 by 5 p.m., with decisions made by all three parties.
 
““They don’t have any preconceived notions. They’ll be looking at existing works from artists and asking for proposals. The plaza is an open space that called for it. The properties around it are all ones that through one program or another all generate funds for public arts, which is why the city is involved. We’re working with them to make sure it’s a wholistic artwork that pulls the whole site together,” says Robin Nigh, manager of the City of Tampa’s Art Programs Division.
 
With more building and renovation happening in the downtown Tampa area, the incorporation of arts into the infrastructure and planning of the city is more important than ever. Tampa’s Public Art Program has invested in around 560 works throughout the years, with the oldest piece dating back to 1903 with T. Ramos Blanco’s sculpture “Honors to Mothers.” This is in line -- but somewhat lower -- than Miami’s Public Art Collection that boasts over 700 pieces.
 
“The arts have always been involved in the development of Tampa. The ordinance was just revised last year and allows a lot of projects like this to happen. It’s just a tremendous opportunity for artists. They will be selecting whatever works best for the plaza, but of course local artists will be considered,” Nigh says.
 
Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park already has multiple public art projects underway, and Nigh hints that there are additional calls to artists coming soon.
 
Follow this link to find out more about the project and application.

Tampa, St. Pete work together to lure Amazon

Business and community leaders from both sides of Tampa Bay are teaming up to try to convince Amazon decision-makers that Florida would be a great place for their new headquarters outside of Seattle.

People in leadership positions from Tampa and St. Pete recognize that landing Amazon anywhere in the region would be a coupe for the entire region.

Read the complete story.
 

Creative thinkers tackle transportation solutions in cities

What emerges when a brain trust of creative thinkers working in government, transportation, cultural institutions and the arts get together to talk and trade ideas?

Time will tell following this summer's gathering in Indianapolis to come up with innovative solutions for urban issues.

Read the complete story.
 

Private donors step up to pay for removal of Confederate statue in Tampa

The Tampa business community led by Attorney Tom Scarritt, former Tampa Bay Storm owner Bob Gries, former Bucs Coach Tony Dungy, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Alex Sink and members of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce showed leadership by pooling resources to pay for the removal of a Confederate statue in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse. 

The private citizens stepped up after county commissioners declined to pay all of the costs necessary for moving the historic artwork to another location.

Read the Tampa Times editorial praising the coalition.
 

What do you want for local transportation of the future? Workshops invite your participation

What do local residents want when it comes to transportation and transit? Are they happy with spending tax money to build more roads or do they want options for crossing land and sea?

Getting answers to those questions and helping shape a plan for traversing the Tampa Bay region in the future are at the heart of public meetings and workshops being planned with agencies such as the Florida Department of Transportation and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART).

Read the complete story.
 

Downtown Tampa adds more free electric shuttles

Two new Chevrolet Bolts are now transporting riders around downtown as part of the Tampa Downtowner fleet.

The additions bring the popular fleet to a dozen vehicles helping people get around downtown with ease.

Read the complete story.
 

Tampa Bay Area vulnerability to sea level rise gets more global attention

Florida cities and counties, including those in the Tampa Bay region, are working to address the combined threat of sea level rise, global warming and the potential for hurricanes. Coastal regions such as the Tampa Bay Area are especially vulnerable.

Preparation, land-use regulations and resiliency are key, as outlined in a 2016 series of stories in 83 Degrees. But funding and political will are sometimes lacking -- putting people in low-lying areas at greater risk.

Read the complete story.


 

Florida has more toll roads than any other state

Tolls, user fees and user taxes pay almost 70 percent of the costs of Florida roads. Share the costs with tourists who use the roads has long been the thinking behind local decision-making.

What will the consequences be when more fuel-efficient cars take to the roads, mass transit expands and federal funding cuts start to speed up?

Read the complete story.
 
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