What's everybody looking at?

What's everybody looking at?

Events that CONNECT  |  Research that INFORMS  |  Public art that INFLUENCES

This month, Realize Bradenton proudly debuted “Talent now seeks place,” an art exhibition on display throughout the month of September in the lobby of the Manatee Performing Arts Center (502 Third Ave, Bradenton, FL 24305).


To celebrate the exhibition, civic leaders and Millennials gathered for a “ShareOut” reception featuring George Abbott of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (see Councilman Gene Gallo listening intently in image 4).

This reception and the exhibition tell the story of Pop-Ups for a Purpose, a multi-faceted project consisting of events, research, and public art. Funded by the Knight Foundation’s Knight Cities Challenge, it was selected from among 7,160 ideas to be one of only 32 funded in the country.

The Knight Foundation and Realize Bradenton wanted to know:

What can our community do to attract and retain Millennials to the Bradenton area?

Last summer, Millennials from New College’s Urban Studies program compiled statistical information into easy-to-read infographics (see image 1 above of Councilman Harold Byrd reading about Millennials and Educational Attainment). This helped us know more about the size and composition of Bradenton area Millennials as well as how our reality compares with national statistics.

With data in hand (quantitative knowledge), Realize Bradenton set out to gather even more information and feedback through events and public art (qualitative data).

Millennials from downtown’s cultural partners helped plan events (see image 5 above of Caleb Hoopingarner of Keeton’s reliving the SHUFFLE Pop-Up at the downtown Bradenton shuffleboard courts). Participants at the ShareOut reception watched the debut of a short video documenting the Pop-Ups events (see MCFCU’s Tracee Jares in image 3). Stay tuned to Realize Bradenton’s YouTube channel to see it later this month.

As Millennials came together for events, they also shared their perspectives through the See Me Hear Me public art series (see image 6 above of Realize Bradenton Board chair, entrepreneur, and ManaSota SCORE Chapter President Dennis Zink). 23 huge portraits representing the diversity of this generation “popped up” in windows at various downtown locations. With the giant portraits, Realize Bradenton also shared participants’ answers to a series of interview questions, all available at RealizeBradenton.com/SeeMeHearMe.

Realize Bradenton circled back to the original question by asking the Millennials directly during Food & Feedback sessions during summer 2016. During these Millennial-led sessions, a Millennial-aged graphic recorder captured participants’ ideas by sketching them in colorful, creative ways (see image 2 above of Councilman Patrick Roff exploring the ideas in graphic recording panels).

Fortunately thanks to support from the Knight Donor Advised Fund at Manatee Community Foundation, the momentum generated by the Pop-Ups for a Purpose project will continue in January 2017.

bradenton_millennial_event_7.pngIn the mean time, we can't wait for what aerosol artist Richie Brasil is looking at in image 7 - the next round of the Knight Cities Challenge. What’s your best idea to make cities more successful? Knight wants to know, and from October 10 to November 3rd, they are asking everyone in Knight Cities (Bradenton is a Knight City!) to submit their ideas for a share of $5 million in civic project investment Knight has committed.

Be bold Millennials and #CivicInnovators of all ages - let's accelerate Bradenton's momentum!

Thanks to everyone who came and particularly the five elected officials - Mayor Wayne Poston, Councilman Harold Byrd, Councilman Gene Gallo, Councilman Patrick Roff, and Councilman Gene Brown - as well as Gary Tibbetts from the Office of Congressman Vern Buchanan Florida’s 16th Congressional District, Beth Doyle from The Patterson Foundation and Susie Bowie from the Manatee Community Foundation.  Thanks Manatee County Government for sending your Manatee Millennial Movement (M3) staff since the Commissioners were in a budget meeting.