Tampa Bay Business for Culture and the Arts, Inc. has announced Zora Carrier as its new executive director. Carrier, who has decades of experience as a cultural strategist, was previously executive director of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa from 2014-2022.
Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts (TBBCA), an organization that connects businesses with the arts community, recognizes the “positive economic impact of a vibrant arts and cultural sector on the community,” according to a news release. It was founded in 1989, “with the mission of uniting Tampa Bay businesses to champion arts and culture for a thriving community.”
Earlier in his career, he was executive director of Open Concept Gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a position he also held at Gallery Art Factory in Prague, Czech Republic.
A native of Bratislava, Slovak Republic, he graduated from Comenius University in Bratislava with a doctorate in education.
Carrier has curated many exhibitions at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. He lectures on art education and collecting.
In a phone interview, Carrier said he maintains a strong relationship with the museum and will continue to support it in his new position.
“The opportunity to really make an impact is wherever I want to be,” he said. “And I feel like this is a great opportunity to make an impact.”
“Zora is absolutely the right person to lead our organization. We are thrilled to welcome him,” Leslie Wager Hudock, TBBCA president, said in the statement. “We are confident that his deep understanding of the real-life challenges of arts administrators will guide TBBCA’s mission to bring businesses together to champion arts and culture for a thriving community.”
Carrier says one of the biggest challenges arts administrators face is creating a collaborative environment between large institutions and small institutions.
“I think that while interest in arts and culture is waning, it’s affecting large institutions, medium-sized and small institutions as well,” he said.
Carrier also said he thinks a healthy arts environment depends on arts and cultural institutions, saying these promote the well-being of artists and art education.
“If we say that art is good for business and art is good for industry, we want to work with individual artists, but I think institutions are much more prioritized,” he said.
Bringing back programming to the TBBCA’a Cultural Encounter Program is something that Career is passionate about. The event, which builds awareness of arts and culture through speaker presentations, behind-the-scenes tours and networking events, was interrupted in 2020. Carrier said bringing it back would be a good way to connect with the community and introduce local artists and young professionals culture
“I think it’s a way that constantly needs to create new opportunities,” he said. “I think it’s important for arts administrators from different arts and cultural institutions to start a conversation and create a platform where they can interact in a discussion or in a different kind of social environment.”
Carrier said the organization will seek out these young professionals through various chambers of commerce, keeping diversity in mind. He said he wants to train them on what it means to be a board member of a cultural institution, to prepare them to be active members of the community, not just spectators.
Giving people a chance to explore art and reaching out to people who might not think of certain aspects for them is also part of the organization’s agenda, Carrier said. He also believes that art can unite people in a divided society.
“I think that’s going to be the name of the game, to convince them that this is really for all of us and we can all benefit,” he said.