How St. Petersburg Emerged Into an Art and Artist Destination

How St. Petersburg Emerged Into an Art and Artist Destination

We’re delighted to welcome John Collins for our membership luncheon on February 3, 2022 to discuss the transformation of our community into a premier art and artist destination known for its world class museums and galleries.

John Collins experience in organizing community arts goes back to 1974, including managing theatres in church basements in Cambridge, Mass., and later touring as the Artistic Director of Boston Mime Theatre.  He performed at the very first and second Spoleto Festivals in Charleston and also for the very first, First Night in Boston.  His performing arts fundraising background led to a career in higher education with leadership or VP positions at Emerson College, Berklee College of Music, Arizona State University West, and USF St. Petersburg.   His arts administration career includes serving as managing director of the Tufts Arena Theater, and as President of Boca Raton’s Centre for the Arts.  

When John moved to St. Petersburg nearly 20 years ago, he volunteered for the City’s Arts Advisory Committee.  As Chair, he produced the Arts & Culture Economic Impact Report in 2010, and later a follow up report in 2015, which helped civic and elected leaders understand that funding the arts is an investment.  In 2012, he founded the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance that has become the umbrella arts service organization for our city.  SPAA coordinates Second Saturday ArtWalk, serves as an incubator for new arts entrepreneurs, organizations, and arts festivals, including the SHINE Mural Festival, and raises funds for artist and student grants.  SPAA is committed to advocacy for in school arts education countywide and organizes ACE, the Arts for a Complete Education committee.  He founded the Arts Business Academy (now  virtual), currently partnering with St. Pete College’s Workforce Development Institute. 

John and is wife, freelance writer Mary Ellen Collins, live in Old Northeast.  He retired from the Arts Alliance on April first last year and is now consulting part-time as an arts and culture strategic advisor.  Terry Marks is the SPAA’s new CEO.

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