Although she's always been passionate about the arts, and passionately involved behind the scenes in one way or another, attorney Diane Bailey Morton took the plunge in January when she accepted the Executive Director position at the Warehouse Arts District Association. A Florida native, Morton spent years as a trial lawyer handling labor and employment cases. She was also general counsel for C1 Bank. Not surprisingly, Morton is also general counsel for the WADA, a 501(c)3 that houses more than 200 artists and art-related organizations and businesses within 1.5 square miles of Central St. Petersburg. The coming weeks and months will bring announcements of major - and majorly positive - change for the district. Look for the details in the Catalyst interview with Morton, right here on our site.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
American Stage, Great Explorations Museum, Palladium Theatre, TheStudio@620, USF Alumni, Tampa Bay Business & Cultural ARTS
What gets you out of bed every day?
Positive change. That's what I live for.
Why St. Pete?
It has something for everyone. It's a warm community; it's very welcoming. And it's growing in the right direction: We're expanding the arts, we're expanding every type of cultural opportunity. If you come here, we're not worried about your pedigree, we care about you and what you bring to the table. I raised my children here, and I've found a great group of friends. It's a wonderful city.
What is one habit that you keep?
I read the New York Times every day.
who are some people that influence you?
Trevor Burgess, the former CEO of C1 Bank. Watching him grow the bank and manage all the challenges every day - he was a very inspirational figure to me. And Bob Devin Jones. I admire the way Bob has created community at thestudio@620, and brings diverse groups of people together, to his home to have dinner. I've tried to model my own dinners and gatherings like that - just to have a little bit of everything. And Sylvia Rusche is my soul sister. We're both Southern and we love the arts. We have a great time together.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I love that quote from Mark Twain - if you travel, it's impossible to be prejudiced. I'm paraphrasing. I've been fortunate to travel all over the world, and I introduced my children - who are adults now - to travel. And I think just walking in another culture's shoes, understanding them, just helps you keep a broad perspective.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I'm starting a whole new position as an arts executive; I've been a lawyer for 30 years, so I have a steep learning curve with regard to what I would still call a startup. I've been able to apply some growth strategy, from being at C1 Bank, but it's still a very new experience. It's also great fun and very rewarding.
Little ballerinas at the Arts XChange .....