Arts and entertainment should see a bigger, bolder year in 2015. To determine what’s in store, we’ve consulted local arts organizations and various pop culture fanatics (via Facebook) to find out what they think will — and should — emerge in the coming year. Thanks to all who contributed!
Unboxed. Art forms that don’t fall neatly into one category will be on the rise, along with more varied and participation-oriented forms of entertainment, says Cole Bellamy, writer, professor and events coordinator for Tampa Free Skool. “Standing around while sipping a beer and watching a band is great, but we’ve all done it a billion times, it’s time for something else. Storytelling, improvisation, odd collaborations, rituals, anything that breaks down the line between the creators and the audiences will be very popular.” Look for events by longform improv pioneers Post-Dinner Conversation (postdinnerconvo.com), Some Sort of Show’s comedy provocateurs (somesortofshow.com) and cross-hybridizing, as in the movie shadowcasts by Cheap Little Punks (cheaplittlepunks. org). Also expect improved burlesque from Hellcats (facebook.com/
New stages. Kudos to Hope Donnelly and George Carter II, who recently bought the 88-year-old Rialto Theater, a Tampa Heights historic movie palace on the north end of Franklin Street in downtown Tampa (1617 N. Franklin St., rialtotampa.com). The couple has hatched a plan to renovate the theater, put on live shows and present creative arts workshops. Look for Much Ado, the next immersive performance event from Best of the Bay-winning cabaret duo Coco & Homo, rumored to overtake the venue Feb. 13-14. Hat Trick Theatre, a young, on-the-rise professional theater company credited for its first-rate performance talent and boisterous physicality, is now the company in residence at Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Murray Studio Theater. Find out more at facebook.com/HatTrickTheatre.
Fruitful collabs. 2014 was a banner year for collaborative contributions to visual art (Graphicstudio at Tampa Museum of Art and Young Chinese Artists at both TMA and Museum of Fine Arts), and more arts organizations will unite and conquer with first-time partnerships in 2015. “Interactive experience design will con-tinue to proliferate, being incorporated into more local-level things, as opposed to just major corporate events/tours/museum installs,” predicts audio-visual artist George Toledo.
In 2015 Venture Compound will be focusing more on a merging of different artistic disciplines, having musicians, composers, dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, engineers and more, says founder Jesse Vance. " Venture will be building it's very necessary membership base as a way of sustaining itself. And becoming less and less of a "gallery" or "venue" in the traditional sense and moving more and more to be a project space for creation, collaboration and experimentation." One great example: The upcoming St. Pete Zine Fest, Jan. 10. For more VC events, click here.
Lights On Tampa (Feb. 20-21) will feature a remake of Nick Cave’s “Heard,” which will be performed by 60 local dancers wearing animal-themed suits. Other planned projects include a walkable field of LED-topped posts that correspond to the tidal rhythms of the Hillsborough River, created by Chicago-based design collaborative Luftwerk (who added style to TMA’s recent Silent Disco; pictured above), and UP-LIT, a billboard-sized sign spelling out a juried selec-tion of texts submitted by local writers. Read more about upcoming collaborations like Keep St. Pete Lit’s Jan. 24 artist-writer-performer extravaganza Fantastic Ekphrastic in CL’s Spring Arts Preview on Jan. 22.
Plaid’s sad. Several CL Facebook friends chimed in about what we’ll be wearing on our heads and bodies. “Perms!” effused Tampa-L.A. refugee and former CL contributor Natalie Campisi Tarpley. Flared pants may re-insert themselves into our wardrobe, according to some fall fashion forecasters. “Nomadic lifestyles and fashions,” predicts Susan Johnson, fashionable arts maven and former wife of the late, great Theo Wujcik — clothes worn by “people that come together for major festivals, like Burning Man or a farm work situation.” Writer Bellamy pines for more variety in men’s shirts, one of several male Facebook friends foretelling an end to the lumberjack look of long beards and Scotch plaid shirts. My prediction: Dapper button-up shirts, clean-shaven looks and dyed hair — a return to Duran Duran’s New Romantic phase. And last but definitely not least, Jobsite Artistic Director David Jenkins offers a glam approach to body hair: “Beard-dazzling. Frosting your bush.”
(Old) school sports. What’s old will be new again — again. “Old roller rinks will become hip,” along with “old go-go boot-like roller skates,” prognosticates Susan Eastman, writer for Folio Weekly in Jacksonville and former CL staffer. Bocce ball has been making a comeback; the inclusion of a Bocce tournament in Ybor’s Festa Italia in mid-April should be molto buono. “Mid-Century-inspired Tiki and Polynesian Pop Culture is coming back in a big way,” says Roadside Attraction boutique owner Carol Cortright, “because we all need a fantasy island escape to an Aloha state of mind these days!” Another more recent blast from the past recalls the 1980s: lip-synch nights, aka Lip Synch-aoke. It’s an artform perfected by drag performers worldwide and is less intimidating than karaoke for the tone deaf, points out Facebook friend Brian Murphy.
Lit therapy. With events like Lucha Libro, the Kerouac Ride (founded by Margaret Murray) and various parlor game nights, as well as more book-lover-geared festivals, the literary vogue should gain more momentum. “I think people will gravitate towards reading as a form of stress relief from the busyness of our world,” Keep St. Pete Lit founder Maureen McDole affirms. Find out more at keepstpetelit.org.
Art taking flight. “Airports are becoming venues for art, gastronomy and culture as global consumer travel continues to grow,” says travelagentcentral.com. Tampa International Airport, which has hosted local artist exhibitions and bands and even woodworking demonstrations, will continue in that vein, says spokesperson Emily Nipps. “In addition to artwork throughout the airport, we are redeveloping all of our concessions [with] design elements that incorporate a ‘sense of place.’ We will definitely be featuring more local entertainment and artists in the coming year.”
Panhandlin’. There’s more to Florida’s uppermost region than FSU and gun-totin’ legislators. Venture north to find idyllic nature preserves, cool springs and the amazing Emerald Coast beaches along Scenic 30A, from Seaside (the pristine town featured in The Truman Show) to the crystalline waters of Destin Beach. Events include the 30A Songwriters Festival at South Walton Beach, Jan. 16-18; Digital Graffiti, June 4-6, at Alys Beach; and the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s big 20th anniversary visual art festival in Destin, Oct. 24-25. While there, stay at the charming Beachside Inn boutique hotel (destinbeachsideinn.com).