PinkCricket credo: Kids, art belong together

ST. PETERSBURG — Two St. Petersburg women are getting ready to launch what they say is a first in the Tampa Bay area.

Their nonprofit arts center for youth will offer classes in the visual arts, literary arts, drama, music, film, fashion design and dance, but their signature concept, they say, is their after-school arts program.

The PinkCricket Center for Arts Education will open at 534 Central Ave. on Aug. 24.

The new center owes its name to co-founders Sara “PinkMeanie” Turner and Jennifer “Cricket” Brendel. Friends since attending the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, the two have been feverishly working to make their dream a reality for two months.

“Originally, we were going to start a craft company and go to craft shows,” said Turner, 30, former director of the arts curricula, after-school program and camp at Great Explorations.

At the same time, both wanted to work with children and thought they could offer a unique program in the area.

“This was kind of in response to seeing the need in the community and the decline in the schools for arts education for youth,” said Turner, executive director of the new center.

For Brendel, 32, a mother of two children, 7 and 8, the center will let her get back to her roots in the visual arts.

During its first six months, the center will concentrate on its Arts in the Afternoon program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Sessions will begin with homework and students will participate in workshops focusing on a wide array of arts. Classes will have 10 to 15 students.

The owners also will offer a monthly exhibit and performance nights for students to show off their work, as well as free Friday Studio Nights for middle and high school students to work with local artists.

So far, 10 students have enrolled. Tuesday morning, though, Turner, who was selected a Florida Gubernatorial Fellow by former Gov. Jeb Bush and was arts liaison for his wife, Columba, said she planned to “paint the town pink” with fliers the color of the center’s logo.

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