The Stage at Payne Park welcomes Michael Ayres

Michael Ayres

SARASOTA, Fla — The Stage at Payne Park LLC (The Stage), a wholly-owned subsidiary nonprofit organization of The Players, Inc. with a mission to remodel and operate the existing Payne Park auditorium for its new home, recently hired Michael Ayres as its executive director and vice president of advancement.

With more than 18 years of experience as a skilled fundraiser, grant writer, communicator, team builder, event manager and community liaison, Ayres joins The Stage with extensive experience in a donor-driven environment. His robust career showcases his proven ability to execute complex projects, analyze opportunities for collaboration and strengthen internal and external partnerships to help meet the mission of an organization.

Most recently, Ayres was the director of development services for Visible Men Academy in Manatee County. During his time there, he was tasked with donor cultivation, fundraising, stewardship, grant writing and administration, special event management and administrative operations. Ayres also served as liaison for the organization’s executive board.

Prior to that, Ayres acted as the corporate development and special events officer for Sarasota Opera. During his four-year tenure, he managed the design, planning and execution of exceptional donor stewardship and cultivation events, managed high-profile public facing events, including galas and festivals, and was charged with the simultaneous cultivation and solicitation of corporate and foundation gifts, grants and sponsorships, among other duties.

In his new role as executive director and vice president of advancement, Ayres will champion the capital campaign to develop The Stage. He will work directly with the chief executive officer and chief financial officer to effectively build community relations with donors, foundations, media and other performing arts organizations within the community, as well as promote The Stage’s fundraising initiative, among other tasks.

Ayres holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary social sciences with a public administration concentration from the University of South Florida in Sarasota-Manatee.

About The Stage at Payne Park
Founded in 2023, The Stage at Payne Park LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Players Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose mission is to promote and embrace community theatre and performing arts within Sarasota. In partnership with The Players, The Stage offers an inclusive environment that inspires cultural creativity, acts as an incubator for the performing arts community to thrive and gives aspiring performers a platform to produce and showcase original productions. The 299-seat auditorium located at 2100 Laurel St. in Sarasota will feature flexible space for a diverse lineup of performances, workshops, and community events.

To learn more, visit


For more information, please contact:
Candice Brown-McElyea
[email protected]

Originally posted 2023-10-04 20:26:48.