2024 Arts Award

Powered by:

About MCA’s Awards

Nominations for the 2024 Arts Awards open Friday, June 14, 2024. The deadline is Friday, August 16 at 5 pm.

Marion Cultural Alliance’s Arts Awards, established in 2016, are a highlight of the Annual Applaud the Arts event held each fall. The awards honor individuals or organizations for their positive impact on the arts in our community. 


Recognizes an Ocala Metro arts educator (K-college) who utilizes the arts as a tool for achieving excellence.


Recognizes an individual or an organization in Ocala Metro for their outstanding advocacy of the arts.


Recognizes an exceptional individual for their dedicated volunteerism in the arts and contribution to the Ocala Metro arts community.


The awards will be announced at the 17th Annual Applaud the Arts, on October 12, 2024, at The Reilly Arts Center.


Awards are open to Ocala Metro arts for profit or nonprofit organizations, city, county, schools, arts organization volunteers, and arts enthusiasts in the Ocala Metro

Nominations will be evaluated based on their level of excellence either in education, vision, or service.

Nomination/Application Instructions

The application form and required support materials are located HERE.  Self-nominations are accepted. Entries must be submitted online.

Please be prepared to upload supporting materials or images. DEADLINE: Friday, August 16, 2024

Selection Process

The MCA Arts Awards Selection committee, chaired by an MCA Board member, will review all applications based on the criteria stated above and completion of the application materials. The committee will make the recommendations for the award recipients to the MCA Board of Directors for approval.

Questions? Please contact Jaye Baillie, MCA Executive Director at 352. 369.1500

ARTS Awards Sponsored by:

Congratulations 2023 Arts Awards Winners

Tyrus Clutter


Peggy Watts


Dr. Leslie Hammond



Six years ago, Marion Cultural Alliance established its Arts Awards to honor individuals or organizations making an impact in our community through the arts. The awards ‘are powered’ by Duke Energy, the sponsor of the awards program.

SERVICE AWARD – Recognizes an exceptional individual for their dedicated volunteerism in the arts and contribution to the arts community.

Dr. Leslie Hammond

There is evidence of her service in her pursuit of grants for antiquity excavation projects (in which she spends time in the trenches), her mentoring with artists at the Magnolia Art Exchange Art Incubator or MAX, and in her volunteer work as a juror of many art shows, including the 2022 Best of the Best at The Brick. She co-produced a sneaker exhibit at MAX with one of the artists. She has served as a board member on the MAX board. She also serves on a national committee of three that appraises art for collectors (and the IRS) and is responsible for the Antiquities division. Local artists appreciate her ready support, affirmation, and advice. Her enthusiasm for art extends to all—-from the experienced to the novice collector.

Leslie’s presence in Marion County deepens and enriches our art community.

ARTS EDUCATOR AWARD – Recognizes an arts educator who utilizes the arts as a tool for achieving excellence.

Tyrus Clutter

Tyrus Clutter,an arts educator at colleges and universities since 1995 is, according to one of his students at the College of Central Florida, “a dynamic educator and facilitator both in and out of the classroom. He is a strong advocate for students and a proponent of student-centered instruction. He utilizes a variety of engaging instructional strategies in the classroom, where he does not simply address academic content, but also utilizes creative activities and assessment methods that integrate and assess a variety of learning outcomes such as creativity, critical thinking, and interpersonal communication skills. Tyrus continually demonstrates commitment, not only to his students, but to CF as a whole.”

Most recently Tyrus received a Four Friends Grant from MCA to pursue his research of the famed printmaking workshop Le Atelier 17.  He is an avid collector of this period work and has been actively sharing his findings with the community.

Tyrus also encourages fellow artists like Richard Schleicher. Richard said, “Tyrus has given me unlimited support in my growth as an artist. Tyrus has passions that flow to supporting the growth and education of artists.” 

VISION AWARD – Recognizes an individual in Ocala/Marion County for outstanding advocacy of the arts.

Peggy Watts

Many of you may remember, in the late 1990’s when Jonh Briggs was the College of Central Florida’s Artist in Residence was commissioned to create a mural on the west wall of “The Hub”, now the home of MCA and The Brick. Peggy was selected to participate in a beautiful mural depicting a steamboat on the Ocklawaha River.

According to Peggy, her favorite subject is people. While working with John Briggs, Father O’Doherty approached John and asked, “Who is the best portrait painter in Ocala?”. A patron/artist relationship was born, and Peggy’s work graces the Queen of Peace sanctuary (over 60 paintings, some 11’ by 17’. These works depict the people and stories from the Bible. In addition to the paintings, there are 6’-by-4’ painted metal plates affixed to the roof trusses over the main altar, which she had to paint high up on a lift, tethered by a safety harness. You can say this project required not only Peggy’s vision, but her faith as well.

Following an arson attack on the church, many of the paintings were damaged. Peggy worked tirelessly to return them to their original state.

Well known for her depictions of historic buildings in the area as well as venues including a great many churches, as well as venues that no longer exist, like the Ocala Hotel, courthouse, and the Carnegie Library. Landscapes are another well-loved subject of Peggy’s and her patrons. All these are examples of Peggy’s brushstrokes depicting our community then and now.

She has participated in each of the Horse Fever ‘herds”, served as the Advisory Chair for MCA’s First Block Party and is active in a plein air group that paints at Silver Springs Park. Her work has graced the cover of “The Ocklawaha River from Colby’s Landing” and more.

Peggy has been very generous about sharing her talent with projects and artists. One of her art students, Crystal Fernung says it best, “Henry Matisse is quoted as saying; Creativity takes courage. Margaret Watts was born in a time when women were expected to become wife’s and mother’s, not artists. Consumed by her need to create, she has courageously followed her heart and her amazing art has become the diary of her life. I have been blessed to have Margaret as a teacher and dear friend for over 40 years.”