Arts Awards

NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. The 2021 Arts Award winners will be announced at the 14th Annual Applaud the Arts.


Sunday, October 10th from 12 PM – 2:30 PM
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About MCA’s Awards


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.   Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Arts Awards in the following categories.



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



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



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




The awards will be announced at the 14th Annual Applaud the Arts, Sunday, October 10, 2021, at the Ocala Civic Theatre, 12-2:30 pm  .




Awards are open to Ocala/Marion County arts for profit or nonprofit organizations, city, county, schools, arts organization volunteers, and arts enthusiasts in Ocala/Marion County.

Nominations for these awards will be evaluated based on each nominee’s level of excellence in:

  • Advocacy for the arts
  • Promotion of the arts
  • Support of the arts


The top two finalists in each category will receive:

  • Recognition in event publicity including print and social media
  • Recognition in the event program
  • Podium recognition
  • Two complimentary tickets to Applaud the Arts


The MCA Award winner in each category will receive all the above plus:

  • A specially designed award
  • Post-event media release announcing the final honorees
  • Recognition on social media


Nomination/Application Instructions

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

Please be prepared to upload supporting materials or images. DEADLINE: Friday, September 10, 2021 5 pm.


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. Two finalists will be chosen in each category and will be reviewed and approved by the MCA Board of Directors. The two finalists in each category will receive publicity before and during the event. One honoree in each category will be announced at Applaud the Arts on Sunday, October 10, 2021.


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

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.