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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, May. 12, 2010 7 years ago

artsEXPO promotes creative networking

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

There were several buzzwords circulating through the crowd at last spring’s artsEXPO at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. It seemed “collaboration” was on the tip of everybody’s tongue, and the concept was reiterated by keynote speaker Bob Devin Jones, artistic director and co-founder of The [email protected], in St. Petersburg.

Jones’ high-energy speech on the importance of forming symbiotic relationships resonated with Sarasota’s arts leaders and kicked off what seemed like a yearlong dialogue on the importance of networking and arts advocacy in Sarasota.

Not long after the event, which drew nearly 150 people, the Arts Council trimmed its board of directors in half and, three months later, replaced Executive Director Russ Crumley with Jim Shirley, a longtime Sarasota resident and the former director of development at PAL Sailor Circus.

Encouraged by last year’s expo success, the council agreed to host a second artsEXPO Tuesday, May 18, this time featuring more workshops, speakers and business exhibits, in addition to a panel discussion on 2010’s hottest topic — art festivals.

“We had good feedback last year, people saying it was a venture very much worthwhile,” Shirley says. “So, we’re sticking to a similar format, which we think worked well for us and helped us reach our goals.”

In light of the success of the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF) and the earmarking of tourist development tax funds for a future festival, RIAF Director Dwight Currie will host a panel discussion on festival planning with Ilene Denton, managing editor of Sarasota magazine and Robert Warren, associate director of Florida Studio Theatre and chairman of Sarasota County’s Festival Steering Committee.

Also appearing are Barbara Glanz, best-selling author, motivational speaker and Siesta Key resident, and Frank Grebowski, former general director at the Opera Company of North Carolina.

“We created this event to provide support and resources for Sarasota’s arts-and-cultural community, to help them better do the things they do day-to-day,” Shirley says.

If You Go

The artsEXPO runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. The event is $15. For more information, call 365-5118 or visit

Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected].

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