David Bear comes from a long line of art supporters. It was only a matter of time before he would find a way to support the cause he is passionate about.
“I wanted to fill the void created by the collapse of the Arts Council of Northwest Florida,” Bear said.
And so, toward the end of 2008 he began ACE, Art, Culture and Entertainment, Inc. The organization became a non-profit by 2010 and has been funding non-profit artistic efforts ever since. ACE supports all forms of art from the symphony to the opera house, Pensacola Museum of Art and Pensacola Little Theatre—all are important to the community, he said.
“The arts are a real catalyst for tourism,” Bear said. “When the museum has a blockbuster exhibit, cultural tourists spend more money compared to those who come for the beach, which is a free, natural resource.”
When more money is spent by locals and tourists who buy tickets to an orchestra or opera, the effects on the local economy are positive.
“It has a ripple effect,” he said. “If the symphony has a performance, people pay for parking and go out to dinner. The more people that come here, the larger the service industry needs to be, which creates more jobs.”
And it’s not just the economy that improves.
“It’s not just the economy, but the quality of life,” Bear said. “There are a whole lot of benefits. Art is thought provoking, which could result in better teaching and it just brings a smile to your face.”
As local art endeavors continue to grow, so will ACE’s support. The non-profit is working with the University of West Florida to progress art and cultural growth in the city.
“We will continue to get government support and organizing. Organizations are going to have to start working together more,” Bear said.
Bear notes that Pensacola packs a lot of talented artists for its size.
“We have an opera house, an accredited museum, a ballet and a local theatre, which isn’t common for our size of community,” he said. “And everyone is very talented.”
Bear is also excited about the regeneration of Pensacola and the fact that younger groups are stepping up to the plate.
“A lot of young people—and I consider myself a part of the younger group—have been very engaged,” he said. “Succession is there to continue the progress and there’s people that are really focused on the revitalization of downtown.”