Marion Cultural Alliance excited for future of arts in the community
Lisa Seiffer, a Marion Cultural Alliance board member, left, talks with Jaye Baillie, the executive director of MCA, right, during an event at Brick City Center For The Arts on Broadway Street in this July file phots. The group held their annual meeting this week. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
The 2021 annual meeting of the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) looked very different from last year’s gathering, but there was just as much to celebrate and even more to anticipate.
Around 40 board members and MCA members assembled in socially distanced fashion on Jan. 25 at the Ocala Civic Theatre to approve board members and officers, look back at 2020 and discuss this year’s strategic plan.
In her remarks, MCA Executive Director Jaye Baillie remembered last year’s full house of more than 100 people at the Brick City Center for the Arts.
“We were wall to wall with members…nobody was social distanced, and we were excited about the year ahead,” she said. “Within just a very few weeks, we had to function totally differently.”
Although MCA’s gallery was closed for more than a month in March and April due to state lockdowns, they still hosted 11 art exhibits, including six virtual exhibits and one curbside exhibit.
“We learned that (artists) never stopped creating,” Baillie said. “Artists painted, poets spoke, dancers danced, singers sang. They just really turned to their art for solace and comfort during the pandemic. But, at the same time, the arts are what really kept us sane and together as a community – even if it was virtually.”
The online gallery was something MCA hoped to do eventually, but COVID-19 sped up the timeline, Baillie explained.
“If you go on our website now, you’ll see the current gallery,” she said. “You can actually toggle and walk around. You can see the individual paintings that are for sale. So, it’s a real benefit not only to individuals who want to visit the gallery online but also to artists who can have their work be seen worldwide.”
MCA also took art classes and the gallery gift shop online, Baillie said.
Last year, the cultural arts grants MCA has administered for the past 20 years became relief and recovery grants. They disbursed $19,500 to six nonprofit arts organizations, including the Appleton Museum of Art, Magnolia Arts Xchange, Marion Civic Chorale, Ocala Civic Theatre, Ocala Symphony Orchestra and Rainbow Springs Art.
“I know the Ocala Civic Theatre used part of their money to help build the outdoor theater so they could immediately have people back in safe situations outside,” Baillie said.
MCA also accepted grant applications from artists struggling without venues to show and sell their work during stay-at-home orders. Each approved artist received up to $500.
Later this year, MCA will produce a long-anticipated book project, according to Baillie.
“We will be producing another Ocala book late this fall into early next year,” she said, explaining that the new book will be a follow up to the 2004 “A Way of Life: A Photographic Portrait of Ocala/Marion County” and “Ocala: A Portrait of Life,” published in 2008.
“Ocala is such a different place than it was when those two books were produced,” she said. “And we think we have an amazing story to tell, so we’re excited about that.”
MCA’s board officers for 2021 include Chairwoman Lisa Midgett, Chairman-elect Saul Reyes, Treasurer Lisa Seiffer, Secretary Mary Delancey and Immediate Past Chairwoman Trish Kilgore. Current board members include Ginger Cruze, James Hartley, Rosie Miller, Scott Mitchell and Sandra Wilson.
The board also approved the strategic plan for 2021-2023.
“Horse Fever 20/20,” which will be unveiled on Feb. 13, is just the beginning, Lisa Midgett said.
“We have a really clear road map of what we want to accomplish,” she said. “We are really excited about 2021 and beyond. We’re super excited about collaborating with other arts organizations. We don’t want to lose what we gained in 2020 – those friendships and relationships. And we’re already working on some cool projects for this year. I’m looking forward to our projects that we’re bringing to the community and the continuation and celebration of Horse Fever. But mostly, I am looking forward to working with a team of incredible people to make great things happen with the arts in this community.”