New SPACEcraft art hubs to travel Pinellas over 2 years

As the pursuit for more inclusive and engaging art programs emerges across the nation, Creative Pinellas recently put out a request for qualifications for artists or artist teams to come up with a traveling art project for Pinellas communities over the course of a few years.

Later this month, Creative Pinellas will officially launch SPACEcraft, starting with two socially conscious traveling art hubs, “Make/Play” and “Read/Grow,” constructed inside shipping containers. These special spaces will host a variety of arts and cultural events including music, arts, book arts, free library, meditation, performance, and gardening.
 
“SPACE stands for social practice activating creative environments. We want to encourage people to be creative, to give them tools, guidance, courage, agency, even if they don’t see themselves as capital ‘A’ artists. We want to make art a little more democratic and consider it through the lens of wellness,” says Mitzi Gordon, one of the co-founders of SPACEcraft.
 
Gordon, along with Carrie Boucher and Bridget Elmer, has already been working independently on socially-engaged projects like Nomad Art Bus, Print St. Pete, and Carmada, but collaborated to create SPACEcraft specifically for this request for proposals.
 
“The RFP dovetailed right into what we were thinking, so we thought we should give it a shot. We felt like underdogs. It’s a fairly large sum and relative to what Pinellas has spent on art in the last decade, so a lot of really respected people were in the ring. We wanted to apply as an extension of our current efforts,” Gordon says. “We were amazed, honored and excited to find out that we were going to have the opportunity to bring it to life.”
 
The reason the funding is heftier is due to the Pinellas County Commission receiving settlement funding from BP after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Creative Pinellas made a request for a portion of that funding to be allocated to public art. SPACEcraft will be working side-by-side with people in the community and asking for feedback to create a space for all ages and bring a diverse community together in the best way possible.
 
SPACEcraft will launch on its journey starting at the Oldsmar City Hall from March 14-April 22. From there, the two shipping containers will split apart and go to separate locations like the John Chestnut St. Park and Palm Harbor Library. The upcoming schedule -- still to be determined -- will create a web through Pinellas County over the course of two years, with 6-week stints at each location.
 
“It’s fun, exciting, a little crazy, and a Herculean amount of work, but we’re ready to start the face-to-face work because that is the soul of the art. The core of this project isn’t necessarily the place, but the creative activity that happens in the space,” Gordon says.
 
To find out more details about upcoming locations and events, visit the SPACEcraft website.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website.
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