Arts Alliance Executive Director to Retire

Arts and Cultural Alliance Executive Director, Jim Shirley, has announced he will retire at the end of December 2022. Shirley assumed leadership in 2009 of what was then called the Arts Council and has served in that capacity for the past 13 years. The Arts Council was founded in 1986 and serves as the umbrella organization for all arts and culture institutions in Sarasota County. Its name was later changed to recognize the importance and impact of arts and culture on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

“It has been a privilege to work with all of the people involved in our amazing arts and cultural community and to represent the arts with our business and political leadership,” stated Shirley. “We are fortunate to live in a region that offers such a rich and diverse cultural environment.”

The mission of the Alliance includes being the chief advocate for all facets of the arts in the community including arts education for all children in our schools. The Alliance administers the Tourist Development Tax Arts Grant program for Sarasota County in addition to other granting programs supporting arts organizations and individual artists throughout the region. These programs have resulted in over $45 million of funding for the cultural community in Sarasota County. 

“While I serve as the public face of the organization, our real strength lies in our incredibly talented and hardworking staff, dedicated volunteers and thoroughly committed Board of Directors,” continued Shirley. “Our team, like our community, believes that the arts are an essential element of a happy and productive life. Sarasota County’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations employ more than 7400 people and produce an economic impact of over $300 million per year. We have truly earned the designation of “Florida’s Cultural Coast.”” 

“I have been blessed to live a happy and healthy life and to raise my family in one of the most beautiful communities in the world. The Alliance will grow and prosper under new leadership, with fresh ideas and creative vigor. I love being an active part of this great community and look forward to the next chapter in my journey. “

“The Arts Alliance would not be where it is today if it were not for Jim’s hard work and dedication over the years. We are very grateful for the many things he has accomplished during his tenure. We will continue to move forward during this pivotal time and shortly will begin the process of engaging new leadership,” said Alliance President of the Board, Kelley Lavin.