Arts leaders and lovers once again gathered Monday night at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for the Arts and Cultural Alliance’s annual big awards night, with the announcement of grants to area artists and organizations, live performances, and a salute to individuals who help to make our cultural community click.
The event, emceed by the Alliance’s executive director, Jim Shirley, shared highlights of performances from Sarasota Contemporary Dance, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s “Stage of Discovery” teens, and Jazz Club of Sarasota entertainers with moments honoring those who work, often behind the scenes, to ensure Sarasota’s reputation as an arts destination.
Recipients of the Tourist Development Council Grants (a host of groups covering the gamut in music, dance, visual arts, theater, history, nature and more) and Opportunity Grants (Belle Canto, Inc., Center for Architecture Sarasota Inc., North Port Chorale Inc., North Port Art Center and Musica Sacra Sarasota) were announced, along with John Ringling Towers Grant recipients (Monica Cross for performing arts, Pamela Callender for visual arts, and the Hermitage Artist Retreat for historic preservation).
But aside from the live performances, the most applause during the evening came when winners of awards in a variety of categories stepped up. Among them: Sally Faron of La Musica (Arts Management), David Schuler of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Volunteer), Kelli Maldonado of the Van Wezel (Education), WBTT’s Nate Jacobs (Artistic Achievement), Beverly Koski (Philanthropy) and Jean Weidner Goldstein, who took home the Cultural Champion Award for her efforts in establishing the Sarasota Ballet, that company’s “Dance—The Next Generation” program and arts support consignment shop Designing Women Boutique. She has also served on the boards of Sarasota Opera, Asolo Rep, and the Arts and Cultural Alliance and currently is among those spearheading the fund-raising campaign for Selby Gardens’ 10-year master site plan.
Upcoming events presented by the Alliance, including an Art Battle live painting competition in January and the Inspire Sarasota Family Festival in April, were also announced; for more info, visit sarasotaarts.org.