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A new bill from Darryl Rouson would recognize students with high achievement in fine arts. Image via Colin Hackley.

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Bill would tag the Secretary of State as the Chief Arts and Culture Officer

No, SB 1632 would not rename the Secretary of State.

A simple agency name change will help align the Division of Cultural Affairs with the goals of its advisory board.

At least that’s what a bipartisan pair of lawmakers say with their bills to rename the division, which sits within the Department of State. St. Petersburg Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson‘s bill (SB 1632), advanced unanimously Monday by a Senate panel, would rename that branch the “Division of Arts and Culture.”

“It just makes sense in a state this size … that we have the Chief Arts and Culture Officer that recognizes both aspects as the arts are becoming more prominent in the state.”

The bill’s title states “the Secretary of State shall be known as ‘Florida’s Chief Arts and Culture Officer,’” confusing some on whether the state would be without an officer known as the Secretary of State next year. One of the Secretary’s current roles is to be the state’s Chief Cultural Officer — the tweak is just another streamlining measure within the department.

And the Senator’s proposal originally would have repealed the state’s cultural endowment, responsible in part for providing matching funds to sponsored organizations. But an amendment accepted Friday keeps alive the endowment.

Rouson’s Tampa Bay district includes the Ybor City State Museum, the Hard Rock Casino and other cultural and artistic sites. And growth of the arts not only has an economic impact but a mental health benefit, such as in arts therapy, he said.

But the idea was handed down by the Department of State, which signaled its support Monday for the bill. And the carrier of the bill’s House companion (HB 757), Key Largo Republican Rep. Holly Raschein, is the vice chair of the Division’s Council on Arts and Culture.

“The name change simply provides more consistent branding as well as greater alignment and clarity to the division’s mission to advance, support and promote arts and culture,” she said.

Rouson’s bill passed the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee and next heads to the Commerce and Tourism Committee. Raschein’s bill, which passed the House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommitteeon Tuesday, awaits a hearing in its second and final committee, the State Affairs Committee.

Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani threw her support behind the proposal Tuesday as the committee also gave its unanimous approval.

“As a fellow advocate for arts and funding, we always talk about it in the sense of arts and culture and making sure there’s consistency, especially when we’re advocating for funding, is really valuable,” she said.

Rouson also lauded legislation he filed that would encourage students to develop a high level of skill in the performing or visual arts by providing a seal on a high school graduate’s diploma indicating they met state standards for the proposed Seal for Fine Arts. That bill (SB 1100) passed the Senate Education Committee 8-0 Monday.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering the Texas House of Representatives for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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