Friday, August 14, 2009

A promising youth art center in St. Pete

Every once in a while on the theater beat, I run into a few aspiring actors - young and old - who make the trek over the Skyway Bridge into Bradenton and Sarasota. It's a trip they take five to six days a week to rehearsal for a show here. They come as far as St. Petersburg and Tampa.

But I wonder how many local residents, youth in particular, will be drawn to St. Pete with the opening of its newest youth arts center - The PinkCricket for Arts Education. The non-profit will open its doors 9 a.m. Monday (Aug. 24) at 534 Central Ave. It is the first center of its kind in the Tampa Bay area, organizers say. The center will offer visual and literary arts, drama, music, film, fashion design and dance.

PinkCricket is named after co-founders Sara “PinkMeanie” Turner and Jennifer “Cricket” Brendel.

Parents or youth interested in learning more should attend the fundraiser Saturday (more on that below) or the grand opening Monday. Opening day will be filled with remarks, youth activities and performances by area artists.

Organizers said the center's first six months will focus on an Arts in the Afternoon after-school program (for K-8 grade) and monthly exhibition. And here's the best part: Free Friday "Studio Nights" for middle and high-schoolers will also be held for students to cultivate their talents alongside well-known local artists. That last item may attract plenty of Bradenton/Sarasota folk.

“With the financial cuts to the arts in Florida’s education system, we really felt that there was a need to offer area youth access to the arts in a very vibrant and motivational way,” Sara Turner, executive director of The PinkCricket, said in a press release. “We have the opportunity to help foster youth involvement in the arts, support their creativity and individuality, give them the freedom and support they need to develop their artistic skills and provide them with opportunities to learn from local artists and advance their work in very exciting ways.”

That fundraiser will be held 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday(Aug. 15) at the center - yes, it's an all-night affair. Tickets are $5 at the door. The family-friendly event includes a silent auction, live auction, drawings, art activities, performances, a "Balloon Pop" and more.

For more info: or (727) 320-2324.

- January Holmes

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