Championing the Arts

09/01/2022 02:20 AM By Lisa Anderson
Jaye Baillie
Jaye Baillie
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Championing the Arts

Non-Artist Works to Support Creative Talent

Born in St. Augustine, Jaye Baillie has lived in Ocala since the age of 2, so the Florida native has been part of the town’s evolution through the decades. “I’ve been really lucky to have worked in the business and education sectors and now the creative,” says Jaye, who has been executive director for Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA), since April 2016. Prior to that, she was president of Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce for more than a decade and spent 10 years as executive director of the Public Education Foundation.

“Growing up here, I’d look at other cities and see their arts and culture. It’s been wonderful to have the long view I have now to see how robust and diverse our cultural community is,” Jaye notes.

Although a lifelong lover of art, she smiles when explaining that she isn’t personally gifted in that area. “I took art lessons in second grade and failed miserably. I think that’s why I like working with artists so much. I am not an artist and appreciate where that creative talent comes from,” says Jaye.

The popular Horse Fever public art project was the inaugural project of MCA after it was established in 2001. A nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization, MCA’s goal has always been to support and create opportunities for artists and arts groups. Since its founding, MCA has donated over $2.5 million to the arts and other charitable organizations in Ocala/Marion County and established a Cultural Endowment fund of $900,000.

“We have increased our funding for the arts through our grant program,” says Jaye. “In addition to cultural grants, we have the 4 Friends Grants for artists.”

Among these are the Megan Boone Performing Arts Grants. Best known for starring in the NBC drama The Blacklist, Boone was raised here and graduated from Belleview High School in 2001. Boone established these grants with MCA in honor of two arts educators who made a difference in her life.

MCA is currently working with community arts leaders on Ocala’s first-ever Artoberfest, a city-wide collaboration of art and cultural activities, which will run throughout October. Included in the activities is MCA’s signature event Applaud the Arts, the community’s largest gathering of arts patrons, artists, and business leaders. Now in its 15th year, the event will take place Saturday, October 8 at the NOMA Black Box and The Reilly Arts Center.

 Even when she’s not championing the arts in Marion County, Jaye stays on the move. “I just completed the Camino de Santiago, a 225-mile hike across northern Spain, with a group of 15, led by Father Jonathan French from Grace Episcopal,” she says. “We walked an average of 12 miles a day for three weeks. I never knew there were so many mountains in Spain!”
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