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March 2022 Luncheon - The Changing Landscape for the Arts Community

  • 23 Mar 2022
  • 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club - 7650 Legacy Blvd., Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202


  • Members - Members must log on to the website to take advantage of the member rates
  • Please add guest names and meal selection. Reserved table for 10 with name recognition. Company name and web link on LWRBA event page. Acknowledgment in event program and event PowerPoint presentation.
  • Please add guest names and meal selection. Reserved table for 5 with name recognition. Company name and web link on LWRBA event page. Acknowledgment in event program and event PowerPoint presentation.

Online registration closed.

The Changing Landscape for the Arts Community

Registration & Networking at 11:30 a.m.
Program begins at 12:00 p.m.

We all appreciate the arts in one form or another and we have world class performances right here in our community. Come and discover the future of the Players Centre for Performing Arts, Sarasota Opera and West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, as CEO William Skaggs, General Director Richard Russell and Director of Education & Artistic Associate Jim Weaver share what’s instore for their organization’s future and what it could mean to you as a business person and citizen of the arts.

Luncheon Sponsored By
Robert Toale and Sons Celebration of Life Center at Lakewood Ranch

Gold Table Sponsor
Grapevine Communications


William Skaggs
CEO, The Players Centre for Performing Arts

William Skaggs joined The Players Centre for Performing Arts as CEO in 2020, bringing extensive experience in philanthropy, operations, and financial services in higher education and performing arts contexts. A two-time graduate of Western Kentucky University (WKU) with a BA in Music and an MBA, William embraces a broad view of the value of the arts to a community via entertainment, education, and economic impacts.

Skaggs served as Chief Development Officer at Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center (SKyPAC) in Bowling Green, Kentucky prior to joining The Players Centre. SKyPAC serves 300,000 people in Southcentral Kentucky via a 1,700 seat mainstage theatre and 200 seat studio theatre with Broadway tours, concerts, and education programming. SKyPAC experienced record totals of top-level donors and new sponsor commitments during each year of Skaggs’ tenure.

Before his time at SKyPAC, Skaggs was a Financial Advisor with Mass Mutual serving individuals and families in planning, protection, and investing. Beginning with no book of business, Skaggs achieved Mass Mutual Rising Leaders in his first six months and the Mass Mutual Leaders Conference at the conclusion of his first ten months.

Skaggs resides in Sarasota with his beautiful wife Jenny, three amazing children, and two spoiled dogs.

Richard Russell
General Director, Sarasota Opera

A former singer, he performed with the company for four seasons beginning in 1989 as an apprentice artist, studio artist, and principal. Among the roles he performed in other regional opera companies were Hoffman in The Tales of Hoffman, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Rodolfo in La bohème, and the title role in Andrea Chenier. As a concert artist he sang the world premiere Lewis Rosengarten’s Three Poems by Arnaut Daniel for Tenor and Orchestra with the Alabama Symphony. He returned to the stage to sing Emperor Altoum in Turandot for Sarasota Opera in 2019.

After transitioning out of professional performing, he joined Citigroup’s Emerging Markets Sales and Trading group and where he was a Vice-President and Global Webmaster for eCommerce efforts across Citigroup’s over 30 emerging markets countries in Latin America, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa.

In 2005 he accepted the position of Director of Marketing at Sarasota Opera. He left in 2010 to become General Director of Princeton-based Opera New Jersey, where he was in charge of both the artistic and administrative sides of the company. He returned to Sarasota in 2012 to become Executive Director. During his tenure Sarasota Opera has increased individual giving by over 50%, more than doubled its endowment, and completed its world-renowned Verdi Cycle. Mr. Russell managed the construction and fundraising for the new Steinwachs Artist Residences for Sarasota Opera, which encompasses 30 units housing up to 70 artists and the purchase of a 30,000 costume collection to support Sarasota Opera’s production and greatly expand its rental business.

He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in voice performance and choral conducting from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

Jim Weaver
Director of Education & Artistic Associate, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe

Jim Weaver, Director of Education and Artistic Associate with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is originally from New York City. As an actor and singer, he has appeared in several Broadway, off-Broadway, regional, and international theatrical productions. His other performance credits include work in films, on television, voiceover, and cast recordings. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting and is the former director for Kent State University’s Stark Campus theatre department. He has a long history with WBTT, having directed and choreographed several productions for them over the years. His current position tasks him with the expansion of WBTT’s educational offerings, dramatic and musical productions, and the creation of original works to be presented to Sarasota audiences.


Allison Imre
Owner/President/CEO of Grapevine Communications

This Kansas City native, and graduate of the esteemed University of Kansas School of Communications, did not leave college knowing that entrepreneurship was in the cards. After bouncing around from Colorado to Mexico, New Orleans to Lake Tahoe, Allison moved to Sarasota in 2004. Shortly after, she began a long tenure with the largest media company in the country. Over a decade in corporate life created a desire to gain independence and spread her wings as a leader and innovator. In 2017 Allison acquired Grapevine Communications, an organization with 15 years in the game and full team of dynamic, creative-thinkers. In four years under her leadership Grapevine has grown revenue over 400%, expanded its workforce by 80% and donated over $750,000 in pro-bono and in-kind services to local nonprofits.


Our Commitment to Safety

The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance is committed to the health and safety of its members. As we move forward in a return to regular events, the Alliance is monitoring and following the latest direction as outlined by local, state, and federal officials. To ensure the wellbeing of yourself and fellow members, we recommend all event attendees review and follow the latest guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

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