Tampa area is well-known for its artistic flair, with visual art from local composers prevalent in plenty of places. From lavish murals on the exterior of buildings to beautiful sculptures inside, there's something for everyone. And the Arts Council of Hillsborough County is a staunch and supportive voice within the community of Tampa from North Tampa to Southshore.

“We galvanize widespread support for arts and culture while also providing grants, unified marketing efforts, research and advocacy to help our cultural community thrive,” said Martine Collier, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. “Our efforts play a vital role in making Tampa and Hillsborough County more appealing to new residents, tourists, and employers looking for a new home.”

Designated the local arts agency by the state of Florida, the Arts Council aids its community by providing lifelong learning and cultural enrichment programs, as well as various grants.

“We administer a variety of grants on behalf of Hillsborough County to help support individual artists. For example, if they need new equipment or education that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get access to,” said Eileen Blake, Communications and Strategic Initiatives Coordinator. “We also have programs for smaller non-profits that need help getting specific projects done and larger organizations can also receive grants. That’s the main component of what we do; support different organizations or individuals and promote the culture of Tampa Bay.”

Blake assists in creating the annual Guide to Arts and Culture for Hillsborough County to attract tourism and business to the area. “The community cares about and wants to live in a place that has a lot of art and culture. We’re that voice for all the cultural organizations and activities that go on in Hillsborough County.”

The Special Events Partnership Grant (SEPG) program, new for 2020, is designed to strengthen and promote cultural assets through growing and supporting special events. Administered by the newly-formed Cultural Assets Commission of Hillsborough County (an initiative of Commissioner Ken Hagan and the Board of County Commissioners), these special events are ones that encourage place-making and community-building outcomes aligned with the County’s economic and community prosperity goals.

“The intent of the program is to support and grow arts and cultural events throughout Hillsborough County that communicate the authentic county story, activate public spaces and enrich the lives of residents,” said Aislinn Stone, Program Administrator for the Cultural Assets Commission. 

SEPGs are awarded on a competitive basis and judged on the project’s ability to strengthen and promote cultural assets; economic impact and community benefit; cultural/artistic merit of the project; and financial and administrative oversight. “There are two categories under this program,” Stone explained, “the Pilot Effort category, with a maximum award of $50,000, is intended for new or emerging events that are no more than three years old, and the Next Level category with a maximum award of $100,000 is for established events that are seeking to expand and enhance their current offerings.

The deadline to apply for the Special Events Partnership Grant is Friday, August 2.

The Community Arts Impact Grant (CAIG) program, now in its second year, is a grant that is designed to make arts and cultural opportunities more accessible for underserved populations across Hillsborough County. “[The grant program] recognizes the value of the arts as a vital tool for civic engagement across a wide range of issues and provides grants of up to $5,000 to nonprofits undertaking projects of a cultural nature,” said Collier.

“Funding can be used to support arts programming that is taking place in a variety of settings throughout the county as part of a larger mission to provide services to individuals and communities,” she added. “It is intended to create pathways for supporting rural and underserved communities with cultural programming and increase access to the arts for diverse voices in underserved communities. It is especially well-suited for smaller or emerging organizations as it provides a training opportunity for community-based organizations who may be new to grant writing.”

The deadline to apply for the Community Arts Impact Grant is Friday, August 23.

The Arts Council has two other grant programs in which it offers: Professional Development for Artists Grant Program and a Cultural Development Grant Program. Get more information on these grants, and stay informed about upcoming grants and other activities of the council by subscribing to the Arts Council email list.

To learn more about the arts and culture community in Tampa, register for free at 813area!

Cover photo courtesy of Pexels.