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Payne Park nonprofit hires veteran fundraiser

Michael Ayres will lead the effort to raise capital and develop partnerships for the renovation and expansion of Payne Park Auditorium.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. October 9, 2023
Michael Ayers
Michael Ayers
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  • Sarasota
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The Stage at Payne Park has hired a veteran fundraiser and grant writer as its executive director and vice president of advancement. 

Michael Ayres joined The Stage with nearly two decades of experience in the donor-driven environment that includes executing complex projects, analyzing opportunities for collaboration and strengthening internal and external partnerships.

Most recently, Ayres was the director of development services for Visible Men Academy in Manatee County, where he was tasked with donor cultivation, fundraising, stewardship, grant writing and administration, special event management and administrative operations. Previously, he was corporate development and special events officer for Sarasota Opera for four years.

In his new role, Ayres will lead the capital campaign to develop The Stage, working directly with the CEO and CFO to build community relations with donors, foundations, media and other performing arts organizations. 

Ayres holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary social sciences with a public administration concentration from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. 

The Stage at Payne Park is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Players Inc., which is working to renovate and expand the city-owned building in Payne Park as its main stage venue in collaboration with other community performing arts organizations to provide a space for performances. 

The organization recently held a community workshop where it introduced a concept for 300-seat, flexible performing arts space. The Players and the city recently entered into a 10-year lease agreement for $100 per year plus a $1 per ticket surcharge. Improvements to the building, which will be funded by The Players, could reach as much as $9 million.


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