An Evening of Entertainment and More

Awards and Grants Winners Honored at Celebration of the Arts

The Arts and Cultural Alliance presents its annual awards show.

By Kay Kipling October 25, 2016

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Some of the evening's winners onstage at the Van Wezel.


Winners of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County’s annual Celebration of the Arts awards were announced Monday, Oct. 24, at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

Executive director of the Alliance Jim Shirley led the evening’s ceremonies, which also included performances by the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, Sarasota Contemporary Dance, and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. And recipients of the 2016-17 Tourist Development Grants, Opportunity Grants, and John Ringling Towers Fund grants were also recognized.

Receiving the Arts in Healthcare Award was Venice Theatre, for its partnership with Loveland Center, which helps adults with developmental disabilities. The partnership between VT and Loveland began more than 20 years ago; now each June the Loveland Players put on a production at the theater, giving Loveland’s students a chance to show what they can do.

Edward Alley, a longtime conductor, arts manager and judge for vocal competitions including the Met Opera auditions, received the Volunteer Award. He is a former trustee of the Sarasota Opera and Gloria Musicae, and current chair of the board of the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, among other volunteer commitments.

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Arts Education winners Karen Bell and Robin Eurich


Receiving the Nancy Roucher Arts Education award were Karen Bell and Robin Eurich, who team to presents arts-integrated circus curriculum to over 14,000 elementary and middle school students in 37 schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties. They work together to provide students with experience that invigorates critical thinking, problem solving and more through hands-on learning themed with the circus arts.

Michelle Pingel, managing director/CEO of The Players Centre for Performing Arts, received the Arts Management award. The Players, where Pingel began working almost 15 years ago, plans to build a brand-new multi-theatre complex in Lakewood Ranch under her leadership with artistic director Jeffery Kin.

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Philanthropy award winner Ernest Kretzmer


Ernest Kretzmer received the Philanthropy award for his support of several local organizations, including those involved with classical music, a longtime love of his. Lee Dougherty Ross, co-founder of the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota, took home the Artistic Achievement Award, and Sarasota Opera artistic director Victor DeRenzi was named a Cultural champion for his 35 years of leading the opera company. Since he was unable to attend, due to a rehearsal for Don Pasquale (which opens this weekend), the opera’s executive director, Richard Russell, accepted the award on his behalf.

For more information about these awards and grants and other programs of the Arts and Cultural Alliance, head to

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