The CEO of the Arts and Culture Alliance retires
FRIDAY AUGUST 19, 2022 |
On August 1, the Sarasota County Arts and Culture Alliance announced that its Executive Director, Jim Shirley, will be retiring at the end of December 2022. Shirley has assumed leadership of the Alliance since she took office thirteen years ago in 2009. Since then, he has helped lead the organization‘s efforts to be the primary advocate for all facets of the arts community. Although she is not originally from Sarasotan, Shirley’s journey to the Arts and Culture Alliance began with the need to become more involved in the community.
“It’s kind of an interesting, convoluted story. Although I have been involved in the arts as a patron for many years, I have no artistic talent myself. I grew up in a small town in Arkansas and have always considered myself a hometown guy. I always thought I would have a job and a career in this field, but my career in medical sales has taken me and my wife all over the country. We started visiting Sarasota in the early 70s and came back for good when our kids were in grade school,” says Shirley.
This stability offered Shirley the rare opportunity to be truly involved in the community – as he had always imagined since growing up in a small town. “For the first time in my life, my career and my family were in the same field for the foreseeable future – I finally had the opportunity to sink my teeth into it. I told friends of mine that there was something opening up where my skills could apply, I’d like to try. Shortly after, the Arts and Culture Alliance (then called the Arts Council) called me. They said it was all about the arts, but they needed some business help,” says Shirley. “What we have continued is to serve as an umbrella organization for all arts and culture of Sarasota County.”
Pictured: Jim Shirley. Photo courtesy of the Arts and Culture Alliance.