St. Petersburg Arts Alliance appoints new leader

Terry Marks joins as CEO as founder John Collins retires.
Terry Marks, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.
Terry Marks, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. [ Courtesy of Terry Marks ]
Published Mar. 18, 2021|Updated Mar. 18, 2021

A decade since founding the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, John Collins is stepping away from the helm as executive director to retire. His last day is March 31.

“I’ve been trying to do it for a year,” Collins said. “I just felt it was time for new energy.”

John Collins of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, will retire on March 31, 2021.
John Collins of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, will retire on March 31, 2021.

After conducting an executive search, the nonprofit organization’s board have announced the “new energy” will be Terry Marks, who begins as CEO today.

Marks has a background in the arts, business and nonprofits. For 17 years, she ran a consulting firm in Los Angeles. There, she worked with the Santa Monica Museum of Art, now called the Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as the Pacific Symphony, Celebration Theater and Los Angeles Youth Orchestra.

Marks hails from New York City, where she began a career as an educator. She soon moved on to work on Wall Street with Fortune 500 companies for 15 years. On the west coast, she taught at the Center for Nonprofit Management for 10 years and also at the University of Southern California.

Most recently, she was working as a consultant with the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative, based in Bradenton.

In a news release, St. Petersburg Artist Alliance board chair Mary Anna Murphy said Marks is a great fit: “Her background in the arts, business and nonprofit sector is a perfect fit to enhance and increase our impact for the community.”

Collins is leaving Marks with a solid foundation. Prior to his retirement, he completed the organization’s comprehensive arts strategy for the next five years, which he called his legacy.

Marks has been getting prepared for the past few weeks, meeting board members and staff, reading the comprehensive art strategy and discovering the arts in St. Petersburg.

“My main focus is economic growth through the arts,” she said. “We’re kind of one thread in this amazing fabric of arts and culture in St. Petersburg. My goal is to work with the board and staff and community to continue to strengthen and grow the focus of St. Petersburg as a destination of art diversity.”

Education is another primary focus for Marks. She plans to expand the organization’s existing programs and, through fundraisers and other support, keep helping emerging and established artists grow their businesses.

Since Collins started the organization, the group has established favorite programs like the Second Saturday ArtWalk Trolley and the Shine Mural Festival, which has brought more than 100 murals to the city since 2015. And it has marketed the five arts districts of St. Petersburg as one destination.

As for Collins, he plans to devote more time to his wife, Mary Ellen. He wants to return to his roots as a street performer and said he’s taken his guitar off the wall. He also plans to volunteer at arts venues and support the alliance.

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Marks plans to move to St. Petersburg from Sarasota as soon as possible, with her wife, Anastasia Wirick.

She said that during the transition, Collins was “generous and supportive and lovely.”

“I have great respect for John and what he’s accomplished. I hold this organization, as he did, tenderly, with great passion and enthusiasm to take it to the next stage.”