Enjoys Active Role in Broward County’s Cultural Community
Early in life, Arthur Crispino aspired to become a fine artist, but economics got in the way.
“I attended Paier College of Art (in Connecticut). But they made clear what a fine artist’s annual income was and I realized I’d be better off in the corporate world,” Crispino recalls today.
His artistic tendencies manifested themselves in different ways, as he launched into a quarter of a century in retailing with industry leaders such as Filene’s Boston and B. Altman and Brooks Brothers in New York. Store design and visual merchandising became his forte, along with marketing, construction, real estate and international licensing.
After retiring to Fort Lauderdale in 2003, however, Crispino – who serves as first vice chair of the Broward Cultural Council – reopened the door to his fine arts past. “I said, ‘it’s time to get the brushes out and start over again.’ It’s been a long, long time,” he explains. But he is back at the easel, creating very realistic still-life oil paintings. He’s even considering an invitation to exhibit his work.
In between canvases, Crispino and his partner, Tony Timiraos, keep up a busy cultural schedule that includes gallery openings, the opera, theater, ballet and cabaret, among other favorites. But he is not content to simply remain in the audience. Arthur Crispino gets involved.
Shortly after his move, he joined the Miami City Ballet’s Artist Circle and became a member of the Broward Art Guild. He now sits on the board of the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens and serves as the Cultural Council’s liaison to ArtServe. He is also the vice chair of the Council’s Finance Committee and Micro-Credit Committee.
He’s found his work on the Cultural Council to be eye-opening – and gratifying. “I enjoy the commitment and passion shown by my colleagues on the Cultural Council,” he says. “I also enjoy getting to know the more than 100 organizations to which we make grants. I have watched the smaller organizations grow and thrive and become more professional. That’s probably the most rewarding part of it.”
Interestingly enough, Crispino’s relocation to Fort Lauderdale wasn’t his first exposure to Broward County or its cultural scene. He interviewed for a position with a local company in 1995 but, at that time, felt there wasn’t enough of a cultural critical mass to satisfy his passion for the arts.
Today, he believes, the landscape is vastly different. “So much has improved in the last 15 years. The arts community has become even more united as a result of the tough economic times. Smaller groups are banding together to share resources. We’re seeing greater advocacy,” he observes. “They’re coming together and asking the government to hold the line on funding. It’s encouraging to see them taking action.”
Still, in light of continuing economic uncertainty, there’s much more to be done. “Organizations are getting their boards involved in the struggle to maintain a strong artistic environment. The business community is involved. That’s very important for the future,” Crispino says. “And it’s critical for the boards of the cultural institutions to be as involved in fundraising as possible. The boards have got to realize that it’s a priority.
“When I first joined the Council, there was a lot more confidence and optimism - and money,” he continues. “We spend quite a bit of time trying to manage through this difficult time,” he says. He cites the Council’s work on the new 2020 Community Cultural Plan as a positive sign, along with the innovative efforts of ArtServe to help smaller organizations get the most from their funding and marketing dollars. “As an arts incubator, it’s a model for the rest of the country,” he adds.
“In 1995, I was pretty hard-pressed to make a case for the cultural life of South Florida,” Crispino offers. “But today, we now have outstanding cultural opportunities year-round. A lot has changed for the better.”