No, this isn't an early April Fool's joke.

Public agency releases Sunday funnies version of its annual report

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Annual Reports can be boring pieces of literature—when’s the last time you actually read one of them?

Most Florida citizens weren’t exactly clamoring to read up on public infrastructure projects, so the City of Gainesville’s Community Redevelopment Agency (GCRA) turned to comic strips to illustrate their year-in-review.    

The dramatic, full-color Sunday-comics-styled annual report will be printed on newspaper and dropped on the doorsteps of 31,000 city residents through a partnership with the local paper on Sunday March 29. The agency’s cartooned anecdotes include a “Peanuts”-style sketch about its commercial façade grant program and a “Dilbert” inspired office strip about the work that goes into revitalizing urban spaces.

Increasing civic engagement and participation was a major project priority. “Our projects are funded by taxpayer dollars and have a tremendous impact on people’s lives,” said GCRA director Anthony Lyons. “We thought that illustrating our redevelopment stories would make them more accessible and intriguing… and help get the word out beyond just City Hall, taxing authorities and advisory board members.”
 
The GCRA partnered with local art school Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) to design the report.

“You don’t call a comic book school about doing a project if you want something that’s been done before,” said SAW instructor Justine ‘Barefoot’ Andersen. “Sunday funnies have been in decline for a long time. This project was a fun way to pay tribute to a medium that’s quickly becoming a lost art.”

“SAW is one of only three comic schools of their kind in the whole country and they’re located just down the street within our Downtown redevelopment district,” said GCRA manager Sarah Vidal-Finn. “We were really impressed with their quirkiness and creativity… they’re a terrific testament to South Main Street’s burgeoning local art scene.”

Check out www.gainesvillecra.com to view the agency’s cartooned report. Copies will also be available at 802 NW 5th Ave Suite 200, Gainesville, Florida.

Media contact:

Nathalie McCrate, project manager for the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency
mccratena@cityofgainesville.org // 352-393-8213

Tom Hart, executive director of the Sequential Artists Workshop
hutchowen@gmail.com

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About the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency
A public agency devoted to revitalizing urban spaces, the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (GCRA) builds awesome things that matter in Gainesville, FL. The GCRA helps underserved regions attract private investment through community partnerships, competitive economic development programs and improved public infrastructure. Projects have ranged from constructing the signature 13th Street Helyx Bridge to building a 32-acre public park to incentivizing Mindtree Ltd.’s pledge to create 400 high-wage local jobs. The GCRA targets redevelopment efforts in four core urban areas (Downtown, Eastside, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street and College Park/University Heights). End goal? Help an area unlock barriers to private investment, and then step out of the way and let the private sector do the rest.

About the Sequential Artists Workshop
Gainesville, FL-based Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) is one of only three comic book schools in the entire country. Committed to offering an affordable arts education, the school offers a year-long program, several week-long opportunities and online classes.
The comics and graphic novels organization got off the ground in 2011 through community support and a five thousand dollar IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.