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Eric Holowacz Trading One Coral Reef for Another
After three years at the helm of The Studios of Key West, founding executive director Eric Holowacz has announced plans to relocate to Queensland, Australia. The ambitious cultural manager has accepted the directorship of the annual arts festival in Cairns, the vibrant city in the Tropical Far North and gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. Holowacz and his family will leave Key West at the end of March.
“It’s going to be so hard to say goodbye to this island,” says Holowacz,” who joined the organization in April 2007, after serving for four years as the Arts Manager for the city of Wellington, New Zealand. “When I began, The Studios of Key West was an unknown, the studios had yet to be completed, the staff and facilities were only halfway formed, and our programming was still embryonic.”
Holowacz will trade one coral reef for another, and familiar backcountry mangroves and flats for sugar cane farms and lush green mountainsides overlooking the Coral Sea. He leaves knowing that an untested organization has matured nicely, and that The Studios of Key West now has a confirmed place in the creative life of its community. He credits the unique combination of creative people, supporters, and audiences on the island, likening their involvement to a kind of alchemy.
“It’s difficult to describe how magical these people and projects have been for me. The past three years have become a major part of who I am and how I view the relationship between creativity and community. All I can say is thank you, Key West.”
From only a few supporters and funding sources in 2002, The Studios of Key West now counts over 400 households as annual supporters, and over 75 local businesses as season sponsors. Dozens of grants have been secured, and the cultural programming includes everything from the One Night Stand theatre project and extensive exhibition series, to lectures, concerts, residencies, and on-going collaborations.
“I leave also knowing that Jay Scott, incoming executive director, will take the helm with an equal passion, a new sense of the importance of the creative process, and an extraordinary ability to garner support and continue growing the organization,” says Holowacz.