Monday, July 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2018—Americans for the Arts and the National Association of Counties (NACo) yesterday awarded Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners of Tampa, Florida the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for County Arts Leadership at NACo’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The award honors an elected county board or individual leader who has significantly advanced the arts in the communities they serve.

In a year when state elected officials cut funding, the Commissioners in March voted unanimously to establish a Cultural Assets Commission to provide funding for new large-scale festivals and activities within the county, sending a message to local organizations losing state funding that in Hillsborough County the contributions of artists and cultural organizations are valued.

Since 2006, the Commissioners have not only sustained existing funding for arts and culture in Tampa-Hillsborough County, but have also launched significant efforts to increase funding over the past decade, providing $234 million—a particular challenge during and after the Financial Crisis when a number of public funders across the United States cut their funding for arts and culture, and in many cases have never returned to pre-recession funding levels. The funding increase includes more than $1 million annually to the Arts Council to re-grant funds to individual artists and cultural organizations, provide artists in the county’s schools, and support the entire cultural ecosystem by providing technical assistance, promotion, and advocacy.

The Commissioners have also provided innovative leadership in developing programs to strengthen cultural assets for the community and to ensure cultural equity in the distribution of their funding. Individual Commissioners, as well as the Commission collectively, have been actively and personally involved in community arts initiatives during the past decade, with a special focus on spreading community cultural education opportunities outside the Tampa city limits and into underserved populations.

“Hillsborough County values the role that Arts and Culture play in creating a high-quality community that attracts talented workers, growing companies and new investment. Our investment in cultural facilities, programs and arts education opportunities is a key part of the Board of County Commissioner’s economic development strategy,” said Commissioner Sandra Murman, Chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.

“Hillsborough County is very fortunate to have seven county commissioners who have consistently shown through their actions that they understand both individually and collectively the importance of arts and culture to the community. I applaud them for their commitment and leadership. They are very much worthy of this recognition,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts.

“This recognition of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for their support of arts and culture in our community is richly deserved. Their sustained commitment to funding arts and culture throughout the county is impressive. Equally important, they have provided innovative leadership in developing programs to build stronger cultural assets, provide access for every citizen, and ensure cultural equity,” said Martine Meredith Collier, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.

Americans for the Arts established the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for County Arts Leadership award in 1999 to recognize the positive role county government leaders play in improving arts programs, increasing funding to the arts and making the arts accessible in their communities.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 55 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at