A Passing of the Torch for Arts and Culture Advocacy Leadership in Florida:
Florida Cultural Alliance Announces New President and Acknowledges Founding Leader
Since its inception in 1983, the Florida Cultural Alliance (FCA) has lit the way for advocacy in Florida to advocate for meaningful state investments and policies in arts and culture. The FCA’s founding President and CEO Sherron Long has been carrying this torch of advocacy since the organization’s inception. Now, after over 36 years of lighting the way, Ms. Long is handing the FCA torch to the talented and capable hands of Jennifer Jones.
With Ms. Long’s endorsement and the unanimous decision of its Board of Directors, the Florida Cultural Alliance is pleased to announce Jennifer Jones as Ms. Long’s successor as its new President and CEO, effective November 1, 2019. “The board of the Alliance and I are excited to welcome Ms. Jones to lead our state’s arts and culture advocacy efforts into a next era of accomplishments. We are confident that Jennifer will represent the Alliance and its membership superbly and effectively,” said Michael Spring, Chair, FCA Board of Directors and Senior Advisor, Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor and Director, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. Mr. Spring continued and said, “Florida’s arts and cultural community has been fortunate to have had the virtuosity of Sherron Long’s strategic thinking, diplomatic tenacity, and passion for creativity for more than three decades at the helm of the Florida Cultural Alliance. The remarkable growth, diversity, and strength of our State’s cultural life is her lasting legacy. We are enormously grateful to Ms. Long and excited to welcome Ms. Jones who will lead our state’s arts and culture advocacy efforts into a next era of accomplishments.”
Jennifer Jones has served as Executive Director for Bay Arts Alliance and the Center for the Arts in Panama City, FL, and will continue to serve as a consultant during their leadership transition in Florida’s Panhandle. Sherron Long will remain on as a consultant to the Alliance and serve in the transition of leadership to Ms. Jones. Ms. Long noted that Jennifer Jones is ideal for the position as she was born and raised in Florida, has been committed to the State’s arts community, and has served as a leader in the nonprofit arts and culture world as a local arts agency director, presenter, and arts educator in Florida’s Panhandle. Ms. Long went on to share that she is impressed with Ms. Jones’s understanding of how the Florida Legislature, Division of Cultural Affairs, and nonprofits’ work and has been deeply engaged in statewide advocacy efforts with FCA for many years.
“Jennifer brings fresh enthusiasm, commitment, curiosity, and skills to her new professional role with FCA. She, along with the amazing FCA board, will continue to build FCA’s capacity and expand an already effective network of active and engaged local advocates. We continue, in collaboration with advocates and partners, to commit to secure greater and more sustainable state and federal appropriation investments and other policies that advance quality arts, arts education, and cultural opportunities, experiences, and accessibility for all,” said Ms. Long.
Like Sherron Long, Jennifer Jones comes from a performing arts background. Ms. Jones graduated from Florida State University on scholarship as a voice major and understands the arts from the performing and presenting sides. Ms. Jones noted the importance of community arts organizations as she had her first real exposure to the arts in Bay County where arts experiences were scarce in schools and in the region when she was very young. Later becoming an arts administrator, she realized the work behind the scenes to make these opportunities happen. “Upon getting involved in advocacy at Bay Arts Alliance when I became Executive Director, I jumped into the grant world for state funding and quickly learned what it took to get programs funded. It wasn’t about just writing the grant for vital support; it was about doing our advocacy part to ensure the legislature would actually allocate funding to support the grants approved and ranked by the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs,” said Ms. Jones.
Jennifer Jones is excited to build upon the legacy of the FCA’s accomplishments to expand relationships and create greater understanding with policymakers and to support arts advocates in this important work. Ms. Jones observed, “Planting the seeds for cultural growth, seeing to their germination through education and technology, and calling workers to tend the crops to ensure bountiful harvests each season is the essential work of cultivating Florida’s arts and culture landscape. Sherron’s legacy is growing the field of arts and culture advocacy to produce a tangible bounty for countless creative organizations and individuals. I am honored and excited for the opportunity to put my hand to the plow and continue the work that Sherron Long has done for almost four decades.”
Ms. Long is credited with bringing significant recognition to Florida in her national leadership roles and has received many awards for her tireless efforts for the arts in Florida at the regional and national levels. “For over forty years, Florida’s arts and culture industry has been and continues to be an integral part of my life. This industry brings me and millions of others such joy and meaning through its artists, programs, services, events, audiences, and the people who show up every day and create. They make these transformative and creative moments possible 365 days a year and connect us in deep and meaningful ways throughout our communities. It’s been my honor to speak up and recruit others to speak up and support this vital, creative industry in our state. Continue to use your voice and speak up — arts, arts education, and culture matter,” said Ms. Long.
The FCA continues to build and empower local communities to be voices for the arts. The monthly FCA advocacy and information-to-use conference calls are proven, effective tools to keep this growing statewide network connected, updated, informed, and engaged in state and federal funding and cultural policy issues. For more information on FCA and to make a membership investment Florida’s arts and culture advocacy work, go to www.FLCA.net.