Sarasota News Leader

10/26/2012

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SOME MORE TWEAKS The Sarasota County commissioners meet with members of the Tourist Development Council in the Think Tank at the Administration Center in Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel ARTS ALLIANCE TO MORE CLOSELY DOCUMENT ITS OUTREACH EFFORTS IN SOUTH COUNTY By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County is tweaking its grant process in re- sponse to criticism that South County arts organizations have been left out. Money for the grants comes from the county's Tourist Development Tax — a 5 percent cut of revenue from rentals that last six months or less. The grant funds are used to support arts programs that attract tourists to the area. For the 2013 fiscal year, the Alliance passed out a total of $1.3 million. Alliance leaders presented their plan for 2014 to the Sarasota County Commission and the Tourist Development Council Wednesday, Oct. 24, announcing a series of what Alliance Exec- utive Director Jim Shirley calls "adjustments" to the process. Most of those changes involve simplifying the application system and coor- dinating more with county staff, but Shirley says his group is also working to change the "perception" that South County arts groups have been left behind in the past. County Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson has suggested at multiple meetings that South County groups are out of the loop, and she has asked for specific documentation of outreach to those organizations. At a July meeting she said the Alliance should be work- ing harder to help "smaller" South County or-

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