I’m super excited about it because I think it’s a way to help artists by giving them a hand up,” said Tom Pitzen, owner of Pitzen Studios in Gulfport.
As a member of the Gulfport Merchants Association (GMA), Pitzen is beaming about a new grant program he helped create and push through, said Scott Linde, GMA president.
“It’s part of our ongoing effort toward supporting the arts in Gulfport,” said Linde.
The GMA’s art focus started with the ArtJones project on December 2 and 3, 2017, said Linde. The inaugural self-guided tour featured 12 local artists in 10 different locations throughout the city.
Pitzen was one of the stops on the tour as he specializes in commissioned large-scale sculptures and mosaics. He joined the GMA’s board of directors just before the launch of ArtJones.
Now, as the GMA’s art liaison, Pitzen is leading the group’s Rise and Shine Artist Grants project that is designed “to support Gulfport’s and Pinellas County’s creative community and to promote Gulfport as an art destination,” said Linde.
The new grant will award a total of $700 in cash and $300 in the form of 10 booth reservations at the Gulfport Art and Gallery Walk to two qualifying artists through a formal application process.
Each grant is worth a total of $1,000 and “it will go a long way to the artists who qualify for it,” said Pitzen.
The deadline to apply for the 2018-2019 grant cycle is May 31, 2018.
“I think Gulfport is an amazing incubator for artists,” said Pitzen. “I feel that way about Gulfport. That’s my kind of dream.”
Both Pitzen and Linde are hoping the grant program becomes at least an annual event.
“It would be nice if the community could rally behind it,” said Pitzen. “Maybe some individual merchants or business owners could add a little bit more to it or create a third grant.”
The GMA will review applications and the two grant winners will be formally announced at this year’s Gecko Ball on August 25. Each artist will be notified prior to the event and is expected to attend, said Pitzen.