Writers, artists, musicians and the community turned out in a big way at the Pinellas Arts Village on Saturday, September 10, for One Beat, an LGBT and arts benefit for The Dru Project and victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in June. The event, co-sponsored by Wordier Than Thou, an organizer of literary events in the Tampa Bay area, and Project No Labels, a non-profit uniting LGBT supporters through positive activities and events, was also a collaboration of venues. Poetry and fiction readings were held at the Wordier Than Thou Bookstore at 5471 75th Ave. N. and musical performances and artists were featured at Studios at 5663, located in the 5600-5900 blocks just north of Park Blvd.
Along with the talent on display, the reason for the fundraiser was the uniting element of the evening.
“I have lots of friends in the LGBT community,” said Tiffany Razzano, Wordier Than Thou founder and local freelance writer. “Sometimes I have to cover terrible things that happen, so I thought, why not have a fundraiser and why not make it local?”
Part of the proceeds will also stay local. Donations from One Beat will be split between victims of the Pulse shooting and The Dru Project/Seminole High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). The Dru Project was named for Drew Leinonen, a former student at Seminole High School who created the first GSA at the school and lost his life in the massacre at Pulse. The non-profit Dru Project was founded by Leinonen’s family and friends this summer and is dedicated to helping high schools form GSAs. The Seminole High School GSA is raising money for a memorial to Leinonen.
Despite the heat, the mostly outdoor event brought out supporters and artists alike. Many of the authors and poets created new works with themes relating to the benefit.
“I wrote three poems specifically for this event,” said Rob McCabe. “I am honored to be reading tonight. Like everyone else, I was shocked by the brutality at Pulse. I am glad to be part of the healing.”
Nathaniel Lopez, who is blind and a student at Bloomingdale High School in Valrico, wrote his poem “Shades,” for the fundraiser, which was read by his mentor, Dove Wimbush.
“Nathaniel is a brilliant poet,” Wimbush said. “I was glad to help him have a voice.”
The seven artists currently inhabiting the spaces at Studios at 5663 donated proceeds from sales of their work, also creating onsite art pieces.
“I’m donating 50 percent of sales on all items to One Beat,” said artist and curator John Gascot.
Linda Costa Cheranichit, a light painting photographer, created portraits on site with proceeds going to One Beat.
Said Razzano, “One Beat was a good way for the local arts community to come together for a good cause.”
Those who could not attend One Beat can still donate by going to wordierthanthou.com/shop/onebeatdonation. For more information about Wordier Than Thou, The Dru Project and Project No Labels, find them on Facebook.