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Executive director announces retirement from Arts and Cultural Alliance

Jim Shirley has led the Arts and Cultural Alliance for 13 years, but he said Tuesday that he looks forward to retiring and allowing new leadership to blossom.

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  • | 11:10 a.m. August 2, 2022
Jim Shirley announced Tuesday that he plans to step down as head of the Arts and Cultural Alliance in 2023. (File photo)
Jim Shirley announced Tuesday that he plans to step down as head of the Arts and Cultural Alliance in 2023. (File photo)
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The Arts and Cultural Alliance will undergo a transition of leadership in 2023.

Jim Shirley, who took the helm as executive director of the organization formerly known as the Arts Council in 2009, announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2022.

The Arts Council was founded in 1986 as an umbrella organization for all Sarasota arts and culture institutions, and its name was later changed to reflect its impact on the entire region.

“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,” Shirley said Tuesday in an official statement. “We are fortunate to live in a region that offers such a rich and diverse cultural environment.”

The alliance developed itself into an advocate for arts organizations in the region, and it administers the Tourist Development Tax Arts Grant for Sarasota County in addition to other granting programs supporting the arts.

Those programs have resulted in $45 million in funding for local arts organizations, and Shirley said that was a result of a staff coordinating and working for the greater good.

“While I serve as the public face of the organization, our real strength lies in our incredibly talented and hard working staff, dedicated volunteers and thoroughly committed Board of Directors,” said 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.’”

Shirley concluded his official statement by saying that he’s healthy and hopes to see the Arts and Cultural Alliance thrive under new leadership “with fresh ideas and creative vigor.”

And in turn, the organization thanked him for being an indispensable member of their team.

“The Arts Alliance would not be where it is today if it were not for Jim’s hard work and dedication over the years,” said Kelly Lavin, the president of the alliance board. “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.”


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