Many arts organizations say that although the pandemic caused much strain, it also led to new and innovative ways of doing things and interacting with patrons of the arts that can be utilized more in the future.
For example, organizers of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (GFA) 2022 plan to continue the best parts of the all-virtual show like they were forced to hold this past March due to concerns about COVID as they plan for next year's show to be in-person.
“Knowing that we couldn’t have a live festival was very limiting. This past year, we came up with a lot of ways we could use our strengths and lessons learned from over the years. There are many aspects from the virtual platform we don’t want to lose, like the juror interviews. We don’t want to lose sight of things that really connected with the patrons and artists, like the artist interviews and behind-the-scenes artist videos with the insight and inspiration behind their art because people are going to buy what moves them,” says Jamie Jenkins, Board President of the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
One of the more notable changes from the past is that 2021 was the first year that GFA had tangible numbers of sales instead of anecdotes.
“Because our mission is focused on connecting Tampa Bay to the arts, we aren’t in it for sales, we want to give artists the opportunity to show and sell work. We don’t know how much the artists sell. Some artists say that they sell everything, but we don’t get a report of information on sales.
The virtual platform gave some visibility in what sales look like, but it’s not necessarily indicative of what would happen in a live show because what sells online might not sell in-person,” Jenkins explains.
But like Jenkins says, driving sales isn’t the GFA’s goal; their mission is to help artists and the art community by connecting people to the arts, whether they are long-time patrons or children who are first-time art buyers. Besides having a platform to sell work during a particularly tough year with COVID-19 shutdowns, the GFA still gave out their large cash prizes for artists and plans to keep doing that this coming year.
For the 2022 festival at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on March 5 & 6, two site plans are being prepared to work around potential city requirements: one plan with more spaced-out layout and the other set up as the full festival you’ve come to know and love. Even the spaced-out blueprint promises to keep close to the same number of artists as festival goers would typically see.
“We are planning for a full, live festival for 2022. There will be some involvement on the virtual side, like interviews with past award winners, panels, or jurors leading up to the festival that can be pre-recorded. We will be livestreaming throughout the weekend with entertainment and our MC, Denis Phillips. It just depends on what we can do and can’t do in-person,” Jenkins says.
The GFA is currently holding open calls for artists to apply for the upcoming two-day festival. Here is a link to the application rules