There IS life beyond
Disneyworld and Universal Studios in Orlando,and the
treasure trove in this well-kept secret provides some interesting
possibilities for Atlanta and other southern cities. With the economy
cooling down a tad, everyone in tourism is looking for new ways to
bring in visitors and keep them around for a few extra days. The
good news is that Orlando has found the secret.
Under the leadership
of Dublin, Ireland native MaureenBrigid Gonzalez, members of central
Floridas arts and sciences community formed a strategic alliance
in 1996 to promote tourism in the Orlando area. The public/private
partnership is spearheaded by The Peabody Orlando, a luxury
facility which Gonzalez serves very well in her position as public
relations director. Calling itself the Orlando Peabody Alliance
for Arts and Culture (OPAAC), the participating organizations
include the American Jewish Ballet, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum
of American Art, Cornell Fine Arts Museum (at Rollins College), Maitland
Art Center, Mennello Museum of American Folk Art, Orlando Opera Company,
the Orlando Philharmonic and Southern Ballet Company.
And, the membership is growing.
Ms. Gonzalez, a peppery
lady whose smiles and kind words mask a ferocious determination to
keep OPAACs mission on the ascendant, maintains that cultural
tourism is the fastest-growing segment of tourism that exists
today on this planet. She sees her organizations role
as ancillary to the tourism magnet of Disney and its progeny. Were
in competition with no commercial enterprise, she explains.
We pool resources and work together towards a common goal of
gaining nationwide recognition of Orlandos thriving arts and
cultural scene. Whether by design or not, OPAAC is an
ongoing success. As a consequence it has won the support of a broad
cross-section of central Florida leadership, including Orlandos
Mayor and other public-spirited officials.
hosts travel writers from throughout the continent, exposing them
to the other Orlando. This years tour was a whirlwind
visit to impressive galleries, museums, workshops mixed together
with the spectacular. Bizets Carmen, with acclaimed
mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves topped off three days that included an
exhibition of rare paintings of Cosimo Rosselli, painter of the Sistine
Chapel, at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Rollins
College in nearby Winter Park.
these spectaculars, writers had the rare the opportunity to see and
hear Nobel-Laureate Ellie Wiesel, tour the Maitland Arts Center
and picnic on the lovely grounds of The Allen Polasek Sculpture
Garden and Galleries.
And, if there was
one exhibition that left visitors breathless, the assemblage of works
by Louis Comfort Tiffany at Winter Parks Morse Museum
was the front-runner for excitement. For the uninitiated (including
awed journalists), Tiffany was revealed as a stained glass craftsman
on par with those artists who provided Europes Cathedrals with
windows decorated with universal themes. Yes, Tiffany is much more
Gonzalez has created is a cultural chamber of commerce, and OPAAC
serves an economic function for the Orlando business community that
parallels and supplements the traditional promotional goals of Chambers
of Commerce. With a combination of education and promotion, OPAAC
is telling the world that Mickey Mouse has some very interesting
neighbors with some wonderful things to offer mom and dad. In other
words, stay around Orlando for a few extra days, and behold the sculpture,
paintings, architecture and fabulous music, including the tuxedoed
trio singing and playing nightly in the Peabody atrium.
Imagine Atlanta with a counterpart to OPAAC. How our conventioneers
and Braves fans would love to really know about The Michael
Carlos Museum at Emory University along with Degas at the High
Museum. Wouldnt they love a day at DeKalbs Primitive
Eye Folk Art Gallery before attending a performance at Stone
Mountains wonderful Art Station Gallery, followed the
next day with a concert at world-acclaimed Spivey Hall. With
a little advance planning, a picnic lunch could be served on the
beautiful grounds of The Margaret Mitchell House on Peachtree,
followed by a tour of local architectural wonders beginning with
The Swan House.
This is beginning
to sound like a good idea!
The other Atlanta-
-life beyond the Braves and pop concerts- needs coordinated
promotion that largely Balkanized arts councils simply cannot provide.
MaureenBrigid Gonzalez has a counterpart here somewhere, and there
are luxury hotels with lots of interest in our exceptional cultural
community who would seriously consider a leading role. It is good
business for everyone.
With the convention business dropping a little, maybe the Atlanta
Alliance for the Arts and Culture is an idea whose time has come.
If there are any doubts, just ask Orlandos most famous resident.
His name is Mickey.
troupe of Mallards known
to admirers as The Marching Ducks can be seen on parade in the atrium
of the Peabody Orlando, one of the city's premier luxury hotels.
Along with the American Jewish Ballet, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum
of American Art, Cornell
Fine Arts Museum (at Rollins College), Maitland Art Center, Mennello
Museum of American Folk Art, Orlando Opera Company, the Orlando Philharmonic
and the Southern Ballet Company, the Peabody Orlando is a major sponsor
HOTEL GROUP ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF ORLANDO EXECUTIVE
ORLANDO, FLA. Barry Anderson, vice president of marketing, Peabody
Hotel Group, has announced the promotion of MaureenBrigid Gonzalez,
director of public relations, The Peabody Orlando, to director of
corporate communications for Peabody Hotel Group.
"MaureenBrigid will have primary responsibility for the three
Peabody-flagged hotels: The Peabody Orlando, The Peabody Memphis
and coming in January, 2002, The Peabody Little Rock. She will have
secondary responsibility for the remaining franchise properties of
Peabody Hotel Group," said Anderson.
"Since joining our hotel in 1996, MaureenBrigid has taken The
Peabody Orlando to new heights, creating and implementing innovative
public relations, media relations and internal communications programs.
"At this crucial time of Peabody Hotel Group growth, it is imperative
that we create consistent communications within our hotels to present
brand consistency, externally and internally," concluded Anderson.
Gonzalez, a native of Dublin, Ireland, holds two advanced degrees
in English literature from universities in Ireland and the U.K. Before
moving to Orlando, she worked in several prestigious organizations
including the Irish Tourist Board in Dublin, the United Nations and
the World Health Organization in Geneva.
She has received numerous public relations and communications awards,
among them the World Travel Committee's 2000 "Woman of the Year"
Award, which has been called the Nobel Prize of the travel
These honors are largely
generated by Gonzalez tireless efforts on behalf of the Orlando
Peabody Alliance for the Arts & Culture, (OPAAC), which she founded
and heads. Its purpose, says Gonzalez, is to showcase
the music, architecture, visual arts, and museums of our great community
to visitors who come to us from all over the world. She added
that the cultural diversity which abounds in the Orlando area serves
to make our message even more interesting. Gonzalez has also
been recognized for her work with the Department of the Interior
on behalf of conservation and preservation of North American migratory
Earlier this year
Dr. Robert Williams, a distinguished professor of music at Florida's
Bethune-Cookman College presented Gonzalez with a Certificate of
Associate Status, another official recognition of this lady's devotion
to arts and culture. The ceremony was dignified and quiet, just the
way Gonzalez carefully crafts each moment of each day to complete
her mission to bring the arts into the spotlight of tourism.
Gonzalez is married
to U.S. foreign correspondent/travel writer, Arky Gonzalez, and continues
to be based at The Peabody Orlando.
Robert Williams of Bethune-Cookman College and the Negro Spiritual
Scholarship Foundation, presenting Gonzalez with a Certificate of
Associate Status in recognition of her and the Peabody hotel chain's
support of the arts and culture.
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