Local Arts Nonprofit Promotes Systemic Change at Upcoming Panel

How the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative will discuss the experience of Black artists in higher education.

By Dedriana Perry September 27, 2021

Michéle Des Verney Redwine, president and founder of the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative

The Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative (SBAC), a nonprofit organization that promotes using the unifying power of the arts to nurture inclusion and diversity across the regional arts and cultural landscape, will present “The Black Experience in the Arts in Higher Education”—the final installment of its four-part Arts & Racial Justice panel series—on Monday, Oct. 4, from 5:30-7 p.m. at Florida Studio Theatre.

Michéle Des Verney Redwine, president and CEO of SBAC, developed the Arts & Racial Justice/Discovery panel series in June 2020 to address diversity, equity and inclusion in the visual arts and performing arts, as well as media/literacy.  "Our focus is to engage the community in understanding and experiencing the arts of diverse cultures," Redwine explains.

The October panel will focus on addressing the concerns of students of color and how educators can help them strengthen their identities. SBAC's work with  younger artists showed that there is a community of emerging artists, especially at the college level, which prompted the discussion. "Our institutions of higher education struggle to identify students of color, in particular students of African descent," says Redwine. 

The panel includes local college presidents and students. The moderator for the event is Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton, director of the Florida Center for PAInT at USF. Panelists are Dr. Karen A. Holbrook, regional chancellor, USF Sarasota-Manatee; Dr. Patricia Okker, president, New College of Florida; Dr. Carol Probstfeld, president, State College of Florida; and Dr. Larry Thompson, president, Ringling College of Art and Design. Other participants in this event include: Samone A. Hicks, adjunct professor at State College of Florida; Dr. Brenda N. Pinkney, director of diversity and inclusion at State College of Florida; Greg Rumph, vice principal at Booker High School;  Dr. William G. Woodson, dean, Office of Outreach at New College of Florida; and students Jesse Clark (Ringling College), Ayeola Whitworth (New College, class 2021), Krystle Lemonias (USF graduate student), and Fred Brown (State College of Florida). 

Redwine hopes that students will leave with a better understanding of the issues they're facing and how they can use that information to make a difference at their institutions. "The arts are slowly but surely changing," says Redwine. "They're changing in operation, and really changing on a systemic side."

The in-person event is limited to 100 guests and masks will be required. Tickets are $100 per person and available for purchase at suncoastblackartscollaborative.org.

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