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Clearwater Arts Alliance: Bringing Pianos to Pinellas and Exhibitions to Schools

By Bill Swan

Clearwater, FL is a vibrant and dedicated community, evident in the activity of its community-supported organizations. For the Clearwater Arts Alliance, organized in 1999, the main mission is collaboration and visibility of the arts.

Executive Director, Allison Cruse, explains that CAA “works closely with the City of Clearwater Cultural Affairs office to further public art in the city, advocate for the arts and support artists and art venues. In the fall of 2014, CAA brought the Pianos in Pinellas project to eleven publicly accessible places in North Pinellas and has several other public art projects in the planning phase.”

Cruse emphasizes a strong dedication and support for arts education and arts teachers in the public schools. The Clearwater Arts Teacher Funding program helps three schools per year produce major arts projects. Youth Arts Month is held each March as a joint effort between the CAA, the school system, and the city to sponsor a juried exhibition for K through 8th grade art students.

The Clearwater Cultural Plan creates programs that enhance the look of the city through art, creating interactive opportunities for the community in relation to the visual, literary and performing arts. This establishes Clearwater as an artist-friendly community.

The value of the CAA and the Clearwater Cultural Plan has been proven at many levels. A Florida Department of Education study shows that the more arts classes taken by a student, the higher their achievement by all measures. And a robust cultural scene attracts cultural tourists. Pinellas County had record bed tax revenues in 2014, generating revenue for schools, roads, medical and educational programs.

Active support has resulted in an improved city for residents and business. Christopher Hubbard, Cultural Affairs Specialist with the City of Clearwater said “The CAA’s work in sponsoring public art exhibitions such as Pianos in Pinellas, Youth Arts Month and the City’s ‘Sculpture360: Art in the Cleveland Street District’ has contributed to a wealth of public art opportunities throughout Clearwater, bringing art to citizens who might not venture into a traditional gallery or museum.” (piano pictured above)

CAA’s Friends of the Arts program provides recognition those who have given financial support to the CAA, and have stayed in touch through CAA newsletters, e-blast and invitations. CAA President Beth Daniels says, “We want our Friends to be aware of community-related arts activities, of arts advocacy issues and opportunities and to keep them abreast of CAA projects and activities. These are residents that know that the arts are essential to our community and that we can work with to show that the arts promote economic vitality, prepare our students for success, enhance our appeal as a tourist destination, and improve our quality of life.”

How does this help CAA with the main goal of supporting the arts? The Friends program supports initiatives such as The Public Schools Arts Teacher Funding Program for both classroom and school-wide projects and artist residencies in Clearwater; The Student Arts Awards and art exhibitions in public buildings; orchestra and choral concerts performed by Pinellas students at Ruth Eckerd Hall; and cultural tourism- including interactive art such as the Pianos in Pinellas, public art installations, exhibitions and events.

**Painting Credit: “An Evening to Remember”, Christopher Still


Beth Daniels, Shareholder, Johnson Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP

Vice President
Roberta Klar, AIA, Klar & Klar Architects

Marly McMillan, Arts Advocate

Jennifer Barbaro, CEO/Founder HBNB Productions, Inc.

Kay Campbell
Maria P. Cantonis, Arts Advocate
Eleanor Cicerchi
Suzy Delaney, Director of Development, Ruth Eckerd Hall
Darryl Henderson, VP, Public Policy & Economic Development, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce
Jai Hinson, Founder/Director Artz for Life Academy, Inc.
J. Harrison Smith, Sculptor
Stephanie Smith, Accountant

Advisory Non-Voting Members
Dr. Bob Cundiff, Clearwater City Councilmember
Madai Gutierrez, City of Clearwater Liaison
Christopher Hubbard, Creative Pinellas County Liaison


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