Local initiative aims at getting artists back to work

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Don Taylor is a local Panama City artist whose home suffered damages because of Hurricane Michael.

Along with fallen trees over his kitchen and garage, his studio was nearly destroyed.

"Water came through the upper part of the roof as the shingles came off. It came right through the studio that we're in now, went through to the bottom floor," he said.

Taylor, who teaches watercolor classes out of his studio, says he's not the only artist hit hard, "A lot of artists... this is their sole livelihood so when something like this happens it really puts a dent in their income and livelihood."

That's why the Sunshine Arts Center and Beach Art Group developed the "Get Artists Back to Work!" initiative.

Executive Director, Helen Ballance, says the initiative is a fundraiser and long-term campaign to get artists back to creating again.

But she says this initiative is more than just a gesture of kindness; it's an economic stimulus.

"And one of the things that motivated us to get started on this program was talking to artists who experienced Katrina and they said within four months of experienced Katrina people wanted to buy art, people were excited about art. So we're trying to motivate the artists to say, 'Hey, guys, there is a market out there for you. Let's get back to work,'" she explained.

For now, however, the campaign simply hopes to paint a better future for local artists, one stroke at a time.

Taylor said, "This has been a God sent for those artists that had even more damage than I did."

For more information on how you can donate to "Get Artists Back to Work!", visit beachartgroup.com or sunshineartcenter.com or email Helen at beachartgroup@att.net.