14th Annual Applaud the Arts | 2021

Applaud the Arts

Join us for a visually stunning evening and help us Applaud the Arts in our community.

14th Annual Applaud the Arts 2021
Champagne Brunch
An afternoon of Celebrating the Arts in Partnership with the Marion Theatre
Sunday, October 10th from 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Tickets available soon.
Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsors:
RBOI and Urology Institute of Central Florida.
Photos used by permission. Photo credit: Maven Photo and Film


MCA began with Horse Fever in 2001 and has continued each year, supporting every genre of local talent with public art, an gallery, advocacy, and funding including Cultural Grants totaling $340,000.


We Applaud the Arts because…

    • art creates beauty in our city and connects its people
    • art is a cornerstone of a healthy and prosperous community
    • art is an economic driver
    • art improves education by encouraging creativity, problem solving, and lateral thinking
    • art improves and inspires economic development, creates jobs and produces tax revenue
    • art attracts tourism revenue
    • art is an experience fundamental to our humanity


Join artists, CEO’s, Entrepreneurs, elected officials, arts patrons, and nonprofit leaders as we gather to applaud the visionary individuals and organizations who play such a vital role in the quality of life in Ocala/Marion County.


We thank you in advance for your interest in MCA’s signature event. We are confident that your company will benefit and enjoy Ocala/Marion County’s dynamic connection between business and the arts at this entertaining event.


Sponsorships start at $250 and provide recognition not only at the event, but for 11 months following.


For a personal appointment to review sponsorship opportunities and benefits, please contact Jaye Baillie, MCA Executive Director [email protected] or call 352.369.1500

Email MCA Executive Director Jaye Baillie for more information or call (352) 369-1500

Last Year’s Applaud the Arts 2020 Celebration

About the Art Awards

During the 13th annual Applaud the Arts, held Thursday, October 8th  at the Marion Theatre, Marion Cultural Alliance recognized individuals and an organization that positively impacted the arts and culture in Ocala/Marion County. Nominations were made and a committee of MCA board members selected the recipients based on advocacy for the arts, promotion of the arts, and support of the arts. This was the fourth year the awards had been given.

MCA Annual Arts Awards are POWERED by Duke Energy. B-J Trophies is the designer and sponsor of the awards.





Award Categories


Service:  Recognizes an exceptional individual for their dedicated volunteerism in the arts and contribution to the arts community as a whole.



Vision:  Recognizes an individual or organization in Ocala/Marion County for

their outstanding advocacy of the arts.


Education:  Recognizes an arts educator who utilizes the arts as a tool for achieving excellence.


Spirit Award (new for 2020): Presented to individuals and an organization for uplifting us during these trying and isolated times during COVID-19.

2020 Arts Award Recipients

Ginger Cruze for Dean Marino


Jennifer Murty


Leslie Muncaster


Matt & Pamela Wardell





Recognizes an individual or organization in Ocala/Marion County for outstanding advocacy of the arts.


Jennifer Murty, Publisher Ocala Style, Ocala Gazette


Jennifer Murty serves as one of our community’s strongest advocates for the arts. This advocacy has taken many forms.


First, as the publisher of Ocala Style magazine Jennifer has regularly included coverage of the arts and artists. Many artists have appreciated the in depth coverage her magazine has given to their work.


Additionally, many arts organizations have benefited from free marketing advice and coverage that she and her magazine staff have offered. Most recently, she launched The Ocala Gazette with frequent features and a monthly calendar about the arts scene.


Another example of vision and advocacy is the Ocala Culinary Festival. Conceptualized by Jennifer, this festival is highly praised for putting Ocala on the artistic, cultural, and culinary map featuring both local and regional chefs, presenting the art of food through a series of beautifully presented events.


A final example (and there are so many more) Jennifer served on MCA’s board for many years providing leadership in developing connections with arts organizations, developing the implementation plan for MCA’s role in executing the City’s cultural arts plan, and assisting in MCA’s strategic planning process.

Through these actions, Jennifer has imparted a vision for developing and supporting arts, making a lasting impact on our experiences here.




Recognizes an arts educator who utilizes the arts as a tool for stimulating learning.


Dean Marino, Westport High School Music Educator


Dean Marino’s Rock Pack class was created to teach the real world application of musical skills, and his students attain both the musical and business acumen in order for them to participate in a music career at professional levels. When he retired from the professional music business and moved to Marion County, he taught elementary music, and during that time, he owned and ran his own “rock school.” When he moved to Westport, he brought that type of rock ensemble environment to the established arts magnet to draw a population that might not have been naturally attracted to the traditional music curriculum. Through the study of the music and the business of rock, he established a group of musicians who soon began to supplement their love of rock with choral and orchestral music. So many times in the arts world, there is a judgment about what is “real” art. Mr. Marino breaks all of those established norms and motivates students by taking them right where they are and helping them grow into well-rounded musicians with a truly diverse sound and an appreciation for all forms of musical arts.


MCA Arts Educator Award adds to Marino’s collection. He was just awarded the 2021 Exemplary Model Program Award by the Florida Music Education Association.



Recognizes an exceptional individual for their dedicated volunteerism in the arts and contribution to the arts community as a whole.


Leslie Muncaster, Jr.


Leslie Muncaster has been an integral member of the Ocala/Marion County cultural arts community for more than 25 years. Upon his retirement after 27+ years as a musician with the U.S. Air Force Band, Les moved to Ocala to spend time with family and start a new chapter in his musical career.


Highlights of his 22+ years of Service with the Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band include:


  • Joined KOS in 1998 as a member and quickly became their volunteer Conductor/Music Director…a post he’s held for 22 years
  • Grew number of musicians from the original 35 members to the current 90+ members and grew the audience for formal concerts to upwards of 2,000. The concerts are aimed to entertain audiences of all ages and backgrounds, with his concert repertoire offering a wide variety of music, including marches, big band medleys, classical, popular music, show tunes and patriotic tributes.
  • This year, under his guidance, the organization awarded the very first KOS Scholarship to a high school senior in the KOS French Horn section. She is now attending Stetson University, pursuing her dream of becoming a music educator.
  • Through their mentorship and musical opportunities, many high school students have passed through the KOS ranks to pursue careers as band directors/music educators, professional musicians, and others selected for U.S. military band careers.
  • Students and teachers have performed not only within their instrument’s section but have also performed as soloists. There are currently 22 students and 10 teachers and educators that actively rehearse and performed with the KOS Band.
  • In addition to 12 formal concerts, KOS schedule includes performances at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Veterans’ Memorial Park, Veteran’s Under the Stars complete with fireworks.
  • All concerts are free and open to the public.


As Hans Christian Anderson has said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” During his 83 years, most of which have been dedicated to music, Les has, in fact, spoken volumes.



Presented to individuals and an organization for uplifting us during these trying and isolated times during COVID-19.



Matt and Pamela Wardell & The Reilly Arts Center


During this unprecedented and unpredicted year, MCA took note of one organization who immediately responded to the stay-at-home orders by bringing online music concerts to homes, not just in our community, but throughout the world! The MCA Spirit Award is presented to Matt and Pamela Wardell and the Reilly Arts Center for uplifting us during these trying and isolated times.

The Reilly Digital Series, sponsored in part by a grant from MCA, featured 20 unique performances by groups of up to 5 musicians and included many genres including classical, bluegrass, jazz, and pop to name a few. Musicians and technical staff were compensated for each performance providing support to hard hit sector of workers.

Between March 20-May 1, people collectively spent 4,322 hours watching online, with over 88,000 views. All concerts were recorded and are available on their website and on the Reilly Arts Center Digital Concert App.