United Arts names Flora Maria Garcia its new president and CEO



Ever since United Arts lost its bulldog-for-the-arts president and CEO Margot Knight, who left town in November for a new gig at a San Diego arts colony, it seems like assaulting local arts organizations has become something of a sport for certain local politicians. Shortly before Knight left, Orange County commissioner Ted Edwards grilled United Arts on its mission and funding, which led to a larger inquiry about the value of arts to the community in general.

“It’s troubling, especially in these economic times, we are giving to these elitist groups with no accountability,” Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer told WFTV Channel 9 at the time. That discussion is still ongoing, and some county commissioners continue to demand that United Arts justify its existence. A brouhaha has erupted recently in Maitland, as well, when city councilman Phil Bonus raised a ruckus over whether Maitland Art & History Museums – an organization that was pretty much constructed **by** the city of Maitland to take over the operations of both the Maitland Art Center and the Maitland Historical Museum to make them more efficient – is efficient enough. His take: It’s not and he wants the city to take over the organization to make it “revenue neutral,” rather than costing the city any money. Because, you know, art doesn’t give anything back to the community, so it better start working to earn its keep. Right.

So no better time than now for United Arts to announce that it has finally – finally! – hired a new president and CEO. Flora Maria Garcia, CEO of the Metro Atlanta Arts & Culture Commission, is taking the reins of United Arts beginning on May 29. The veteran administrator, it seems, is no stranger for having to fight for a pittance from local governments: “The government doesn’t understand the value of the arts to communities. They think of it as an extra, not a necessity,” Garcia was quoted as saying by the Marietta Daily Journal in 2011. “We need to continue to raise awareness about the economic impact and value of the arts for tourism and the economy. Most arts organizations don’t talk about themselves as economic drivers to their elected officials.”

Sing it, sister. Welcome to town.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.