SPACEcraft brings free activities to parks in Pinellas County

·2 min read

Parks throughout Pinellas County have been getting a dose of creativity the past year, courtesy of public art project SPACEcraft, which brings free, hands-on experiences led by local artists to the community. (SPACE is an acronym for Social Practice Activating Creative Environments.)

The experiences are held around and in two locally-repurposed, artfully-adorned shipping containers that have large openings. Each container has two themes: Make (maker space/art studio), Play (interactive playroom/stage), Read (reading room) and Grow (community space). The containers travel separately, each going to different parks throughout Pinellas County, where they stay for eight weeks.

Conceived a few years ago, the project was founded by Carrie Boucher, Bridget Elmer and Mitzi Gordon, socially engaged artists who live in Pinellas County. In 2018, it was selected by arts agency Creative Pinellas for activation in city and county parks throughout Pinellas. It’s funded by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.

SPACEcraft launched July 2020 in northern Pinellas County and will run through May 2022, with the hopes to keep it going.

Gordon called the partnership with the parks a “great fit.”

“People come and discover us,” she said. “It adds another layer of engagement and joy.”

On Aug. 21, SPACEcraft opens to the public in St. Petersburg. The Make/Play space will open at Bear Creek Park (58th Street and First Avenue N) from 5-7 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays, while Read/ Grow will open at Walter Fuller Park (7901 30th Ave. N) from 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. They will remain open through Oct. 2.

While the activities take place around giant boxes, they’re certainly outside of the box when it comes to variety. Programs include art workshops, freeform musical performances, movie screenings, playground games, storytelling and reading including zine making, yoga, gardening and personal wellness.

“Each session is always something different because the themes are so broad,” Gordon said. She added that wellness is an important part of the experience.

She also said the community has been responding positively.

During a year when work dried up for local creatives, SPACEcraft paid artists to lead the programs and hired photographer Todd Bates to be its official documentarian. There are also paid opportunities for people to lead single session workshops.

Gordon said one of the project’s goals is encouraging people from different backgrounds to interact together in a space that’s “intended to break barriers.”

“We feel fortunate to do work like this right now,” she said. “The team are amazing, creative problem solvers.”

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