The decision to leave Williams permanently came after a week of coordinating with the Parks and Recreation Department to move the event to South Straub Park, near Demens Landing. Parks and Recreation officials initially told Silvia that Art in the Park could use South Straub every Saturday until the end of January with the possible exception of Jan. 9, but later told her that a city ordinance required a permit and city sponsorship to sell wares in the park. The permit requires a non-profit status, which Art in the Park does not have at this time -- although Silvia is working to change that.
Parks director Cliff Footlick claims the city strongly encouraged Silvia to move the event back to Williams Park and even offered to waive the ordinance in an effort to encourage positive activity in a notoriously downtrodden green space. Silvia denied the offer out of concern for the parks homeless and otherwise derelict activity as well as the bus presence, which, she feels, discourages foot traffic.
Leslie Curran, owner of Interior Motives Gallery and a District 4 City Council member, contacted Silvia on Dec. 8 with the idea to use the parking lot location. The lots owner, John Warren (who also owns Savannahs and was a candidate in this year's mayoral race) agreed to allow use of the space free of charge. Other possible locations included the Pier approach, the USF Bayboro campus and the Grand Central District.
Now in its third season, Art in the Park is a coordinated effort among dozens of vendors, the City of St. Petersburg, and the Downtown Neighborhood Association to promote St. Petersburg as an arts destination and encourage activity in St. Petes green spaces. Participating artists sell handmade arts and crafts items including jewelry, paintings, birdhouses, and metal sculptures.