SouthShore Arts Council

The SouthShore Arts Council was formed to be a cultural resource for artists and the South Hillsborough County communities by offering inclusive programming in the arts and education.    
Full description and community benefit

This project is funded by The Black Rock Arts Foundation, The Community Foundation of
Tampa Bay, The South Shore Chamber of Commerce, and private individual donations.

Working with community artist Michael Parker, The Council is excited to add this exciting program
to our existing community arts curriculum. Michael has agreed to open his personal studio
located in Ruskin, Florida with use of his extensive personal tool collection to help get this
program off the ground.

During the course, taught by Michael and assisted by qualified arts professionals, selected
youth will learn how to disassemble, cut, grind, weld and reassemble to create a vehicle of their
own design. They will learn the names and purposes of all parts associated with bicycle and
tricycle building. Did you know that it's pretty easy to customize a bicycle into a piece of art
that is uniquely your own?

Youth- this will be an alternative to traditional public art practices such as murals or
sculptures. We hope to capture the attention of a group of kids that are very creative but may
not be interested in creating paintings or sculptures and also may not be able to access quality
programming in the community. This will be a unique event that has the potential to leave a
lasting impression on participants.

After the bike is finished:

The course and bike building will culminate with a "parade" of finished vehicles to a location in
Downtown Ruskin. On the day of the parade/exhibit, the ending location is where the students
conduct a workshop with community members. Not only will the youth be able to learn the
skills needed to do this, but after they do, they can then pass it on to others by collaborating
on a group made vehicle. We will have parts, materials and tools that students gather and
select to show community members what they learned by building these bicycles. It is also our
hope that selected local businesses will each exhibit one of the finished vehicles for a month
after the class.

The project is interactive on multiple levels. First, the students will build the bikes
themselves in class and alongside their classmates from their own designs. Then, once the
bikes are complete at the end of the course the arts council will coordinate a parade day. On
the parade day, the students will ride their creations to a site in town where the students will
showcase their creations and build an impromptu vehicle with community members, applying
the skills learned in the course. After the parade day event, local businesses will display one
bike each at their business, creating an “exhibit” of the finished bikes, all over town. We
envision the business owners exhibiting a bike for a month. At the end of that month the
student will take their bike home to keep.

The Community will collaborate as well. In class, Students will work in a collaborative
environment, helping each other to achieve their desired designs. The youth will not only be
able to showcase in person their creation but also have the opportunity to pass on learned
skills to the community by building an impromptu vehicle with the community on the day of the
event. Interested and supportive business owners and organizations will collaborate by
showcasing a bike for a month after the event.

The Exhibition portion of the project will be publicly displayed at business locations
throughout the South Hillsborough County region. We have not yet identified all locations but
feel confident that through our relationships, we will have many willing participants. The
community event will take place downtown Ruskin, which is the historical center of the South
Shore Community.

The community- We think that the students families and and the cultural community will
get engaged and excited about this project. We also think that this project has the potential to
cross-link other disciplines and get other community members that may not turn out for an art
event. For example, bicycle, car and motorcycle enthusiasts may be particularly interested in
this project, and by jumping that border we can expand the possibilities of art for the future
benefit of our community.

We would really like to broaden the community’s vision of what can be accomplished
through art and the creative process. We’ve found over the years that there is a certain
member base that participates in the art and cultural activities in this community. They are very
committed and engaged. We have the potential to serve the community beyond the
stereotypical art classes and events that are associated with art functions and organizations.
Through some research we found that just by mentioning that an activity is art based, some
peolple feel excluded or even worse, not worthy of participating. This was an eye-opener.
Being an arts organization with a mission to serve the community at large, it’s our job to make
our programming accessible. We also realized that we have numerous creative professional
artists in our community that are crossing those boundaries each day with their work. When
Michael proposed this project, we decided that it was the type of link that we were looking for.
We want our programming to be accessible, engaging, educational and fulfill a community
need. We believe that this will accomplish all of those things and launch our programming in
the direction that allows us to best serve our community as a whole.

South Hillsborough County has grown at an alarming rate over the past 10 years. The programming
available has not grown along with the population which leads to many negative effects
especially concerning youth.  With much available space, the growing population of the
tampa metro area has looked to south Hillsborough for affordable housing and living
conditions. As the population grows, organizations like us that have a specific mission to
provide quality programming to residents should grow along with it.
Being able to offer a unique program such as this can open a door to allow artists to
engage beyond the isolated art world, and gain a new perspective on creative placemaking.
More established communities are able to offer unique opportunities for youth and residents (I
was personally a participant in the Odessey of the Mind program for seven years). Some of
these programs can chart the course of a young person’s life. We would really like to be able
to facilitate better programming experiences such as this.

When I first got into creating things, I experimented with many materials and methods.
I eventually persued painting as a fine art, but it was the designing and hand building of a
vehicle of my own creation that gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment. Having
worked with youth for many years on many different projects, I’ve seen that no matter what
your circumstance, that pride and accomplishment can be the thing that changes your life.
Creating art in the community is an excellent model to teach job skills, camaraderie, selfesteem,
entrepreneurship, and increase social capital. The bonds that are created between the
participants are some of the most rewarding things about the process. That is why we also
believe that the process is as important as the product.
Funded by Black Rock Arts Foundation:
Since 2002, Black Rock Arts Foundation has awarded grants to artists and collectives across
the country and around the world.
BRAF Grantees represent diversity, both in their chosen media and strategies of bringing art
into their communities. Each project responds to a community’s culture, needs and
environment in an innovative and unique way. The concepts and implementation of the projects
contrast greatly, employing both high and low-tech media, inviting both expressive freedom
and refinement of craft, arising from both established partnerships and grassroots efforts,
reaching both small-town and metropolitan communities.
Our grantee projects serve communities not only by sharing groundbreaking, outstanding
artwork, but also by soliciting the community’s input and collaboration. By inviting community
participation at all stages of the artworks’ creation and display, these projects engender
stewardship of and personal relationships with works of art.
Our grantees share a common goal: to include their community in the creation of a project that
exists for and belongs to the public – a project that provokes immediate actions that connect
individuals with each other and with their community at large.
We’d like to extend our thanks to you, our supporters, for donating to BRAF and making our
Grants to Artists program possible. Individual contributions are the primary source of funding
for our grants. You make these projects happen! Make a donation to BRAF today, and help us
award more funds to more great projects like these!