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Sarasota News Leader MORE FLEXIBILITY December 13, 2013 Page 70 She added, "I know, Mr. Shirley, you and I have gone around and around about this numerous times, and you expect it every time [in an appearance before the commission]. … But it just doesn't stop for me with the feedback I get and I'd be happy to try to do what I can from my end, too." After his presentation, Shirley sought approval from the board for some tweaks to the Alliance's Cultural/Arts Grant Program Guidelines, as recommended by the Tourist Development Council on Nov. 21. The County Commission gave him that approval on a Robinson has questioned Shirley at length in unanimous vote, but not before clarifying a his reports to the County Commission about few points. his efforts to help more organizations in Commissioners Christine Robinson and Nora South County apply for and receive arts and Patterson queried Shirley about a proposed cultural grants through the county program. change in the guidelines that would allow an The majority of those groups, she has said, arts organization that had an established pro- are small and lack experienced professional employees. gram, but did not hold an event every year, to be considered for a grant based on its budget "It's hard to get these [South County] folks to step up, because they're nervous about the last time it held the program. the whole [application process]," Robinson The focal point for that change is the Season added. of Sculpture, Shirley told the board. It presents a collection of artwork on Sarasota's "We're being more inclusive of newer organizations when they can qualify [for the bayfront every other year. grants]," Shirley said, noting that the program Robinson asked whether the change would is dedicated to increasing county tourism. He apply to a smaller organization that put on told Robinson he had met during the past two an event one year but lacked sufficient man- weeks with representatives from three small power to do it again until two years later. "It's arts organizations "to help them brainstorm not just every other year?" Robinson asked. about growing strategic plans. We're always open for that, and I would like to state for "The answer is 'Yes,'" Shirley told her. the public that no group in this county should ever feel intimidated to come for anything. … However, the guideline would apply to arts We are here to serve them." and cultural groups "conducting established programming," he added, and not to an orga- In response to another question from Robinson, Shirley explained that no one nization "just coming out of the blue." eligible for a grant can serve on the panel "I think it's really great that we're being that chooses the recipients. However, repreally flexible with existing organizations," resentatives from two organizations that Robinson replied. "However, I think that we have received grants are asked to sit on the need to continue to apply more flexibility to grants policy committee, so members of that these smaller organizations … I just don't feel group can benefit from their perspective on the process. % like we're doing that as much as we could."

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