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About the Council

Lakeland Mayor’s Council on the Arts is a group formed by a resolution of the Lakeland City Commission on June 16, 2014. The purpose of the Council is to further the enhancement, promotion, and support of Lakeland’s arts community and its associated creative economy. By majority vote of the Lakeland City Commission, local arts organizations were named to the group. Each arts organization on the resolution names a representative to serve on the Council. These representatives meet formally six times per year. 

The Council’s primary work includes promoting the annual City of Lakeland grant program for eligible arts organizations. Additionally, the Council will oversee any public art selection(s) associated with capital projects within the Lakeland municipality.


A Message from the Chair

Kerry Falwell headshot

Photo by Pierre DuCharme

Dear Arts Enthusiasts,

On January 1, 2021, I humbly began serving as Chair of the Mayor’s Council on the Arts for the City of Lakeland. I am grateful to Mayor Mutz for this appointment and to work with the City in advancing our vibrant arts economy.

My goals for the Council in 2021 will start by strengthening our work on This was a huge step forward in giving our arts economy a unified voice and streamlined access to content for audiences. Next, the Council will finalize a pathway for emerging and sustainable arts organizations to participate in and the City’s annual arts & culture grants process. Arts organizations are small businesses, often a nonprofit or independent contractor, and this is a way the Council can support arts entrepreneurs. My hope is that every viable arts organization knows about this grant opportunity and feels welcome to apply.

The arts were disproportionately and negatively impacted through the pandemic. Many of our Lakeland arts and culture institutions were able to convert some things to virtual and sustain themselves in the short term. But the intrinsic benefits of fellowship and shared experiences that our arts organizations bring their live audiences were lost for a year. The arts economy will need support and advocacy for several years to come.

I look forward to working at the pleasure of the Mayor to support this important part of our great City.


Kerry Falwell signature

Kerry Falwell  |  Chair, Lakeland Mayor’s Council on the Arts

“The arts scene in Lakeland continues to grow and flourish through the collaborative work of the council. The collective energy of everyone involved reflects our commitment to provide art experiences to all people.”

Sara Roberts McCarley | Lakeland City Commissioner

Council Members

  • Bill Mutz | Mayor of the City of Lakeland
  • Emily Colon | Assistant City Manager for the City of Lakeland
  • Sara Roberts McCarley | City Commissioner, City of Lakeland
  • Kerry Falwell | Explorations V Children’s Museum, Council Chair
  • Jermaine Thornton | Florida Dance Theatre
  • Beth Gibbs | Florida Southern College
  • Kevin LeVine | Harrison School for the Arts
  • Amy Wiggins | Imperial Symphony Orchestra of Polk County
  • Alan Reynolds | Lakeland Community Theatre
  • Marcus Norvell | Lakeland Concert Band
  • Laura Rodriguez | Lakeland Vision, Inc.
  • Cynthia Haffey | Platform Art
  • Meri Mass | Polk Arts Alliance
  • Dr. Alex Rich | Polk Museum of Art
  • Pal Powell | Polk Museum of Art
  • Leslie Sikora | Polk Theatre
  • Kim Long | Polk Vision, Inc.
  • Tony Camarillo | RP Funding Center
  • Dr. Mark Belfast | Southeastern University
  • Lesley Chambers | At-Large Member
  • Chanda Frederick | At-Large Member
  • Brad Lunz | At-Large Member
  • Mike Maguire | At-Large Member
  • Beth Mason | At-Large Member
  • Dr. Daryl Ward | At-Large Member
  • Lakeland Art Guild | At-Large Member