When it opens in 2021, St. Petersburg’s Fairgrounds experimental art exhibition will be a 12,000-square-foot home where local and international artists—plus performers, writers and musicians—can display work and make a living. And curators looking for work to show off.
An open call to artists—including performers, musicians, writers and storytellers—was announced via email on April 18, and parties interested in being part of the spring 2021 season must register via fairgrounds.art then complete a four-step submission process that includes a qualification and interest form, idea submission, project proposal and project agreement.
According to the Fairgrounds website, eligibility will be determined by a point system.
“We follow guidelines that make our immersive experiences fair for all, while seeking out a range of creative ideas and projects. You will only need to qualify once,” the website says. “We consider everyone's application, no matter the medium or experience, and regardless of age, race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identification, military status, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical ability!”
Naturally, not everyone will be eligible due to limited resources available to the private company behind Fairgrounds. Those deemed ineligible can re-submit materials once per year.
The compound—inspired in part by New Mexico art destination Meow Wolf—is located within The Factory at The Warehouse Arts District where arts groups and at least one record store (Daddy Kool Records) have retreated to get away from rising rents in downtown St. Pete.
The Factory will also be home to Barley Common Brewery Collective, the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg’s dance academy, Keep St. Pete Lit and the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.
“Through exhibits, events, workshops and creative education programs, Fairgrounds will become a leader for arts innovation, and an economic engine for local artists and craftspeople,” its website says.
Last fall, Kara Bahar wouldn’t commit to a timeline on the project.
“Timelines are false promises,” Behar—who works at Behar & Peteranecz Architecture, which already calls the Warehouse District home—told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “We’re moving as fast as we can, and we’re gonna break ground in January 2020.”
At the time, Behar also mentioned a Daddy Kool listening lounge, coffee counter from Black Crow, plus interest from Tombolo Books and Indie Flea.
The vision for Fairgrounds belongs to arts consultant Liz Dimmitt, who’s worked with artists in New York City and Hong Kong, plus Tampa’s Penny and Jeff Vinik who asked Dimmitt to help create The Beach, a 15,000-square-foot immersive art install at Amalie Arena. Dimitt, who’s also managing partner of her family’s Dimmitt Chevrolet in Clearwater, was also part of the team that brought Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room, “Love Is Calling,” to the Tampa Museum of Art.
Behar helped Dimmitt find space for Fairgrounds and The Factory.
Last fall, Dimmitt told the Tampa Bay Times that she’s created a royalty-like model to share profits from ticket sales to Fairgrounds with the artists. The idea, she explained, is to help artists create an income that isn’t tied to directly selling work.
CL reached out to a Fairgrounds rep to get additional information regarding the spring 2021 selections.
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