Jim Shirley, Executive Director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, which sponsored Sarasota’s participation — said: “The thing that impresses me most is that, while during the recession many of our organizations had to make cuts and tighten their belts, they never lost the quality of the product and they’ve come back even stronger than before — which says to me that as the economy is coming back, the arts are not only remaining strong, they’re kind of leading the way.”