Ybor As The Big Easel?

Now that the promise of an affordable artists’ community is off the drawing boards with the planned East Village of the Arts in Ybor City, a key question is begged.

No, not the one about why artists should be singled out and subsidized to do what they do, which sometimes includes creating stuff that even mystifies those who aren’t practicing Philistines. Anyway, the artists are not supposed to be of the “starving” sort; they’re expected to have rent-paying “day jobs.”

Nor is it about the criteria for choosing the arts’ worthiness of prospective tenants, which sounds almost Solomonic.

After all, artists having formal patrons predates the Medicis. This is the 21st century, quasi economic-development model.

No, the key query concerns the nature of the new art ‘hood — north of I-4, between 12th Street and 19th Street. This is one tough, crime-familiar section. Arguably, punks will outnumber poets. No drive-by sonnets in this rundown part of town.

As a result, leasing apartments at fixed low rates to water colorists, sculptors and mimes could be more noble than practical — or safe. Nothing against the aesthetic and ephemeral crowd, but this could get dicey. Security should be a serious concern for the earliest pioneers, even if they’re a colony of police sketch artists.

To that end, why not add a complementary organization? Preferably one with some muscle. As long as the city is designating a favored group for help, it might want to expand that subsidy scenario. Why not, say, an Olympic Development weightlifters community as well? At least until gentrification kicks in.

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