Wayne David Atherholt – Biography

Wayne David Atherholt is currently serving as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of St. Petersburg.  In that capacity he oversees arts and culture in the city, including arts policy, arts grants, public art, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and the Shine Mural Festival.  The city is home to ten museums and many performing arts organizations.

Previously, he served as CEO of the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida.  The Morean is the city’s oldest arts organization and consists of 4 facilities: Chihuly Collection, Morean Arts Center Galleries, Glass Studio & Hot Shop and Morean Center for Clay at the Train Station.  Most recently the Morean absorbed St. Pete Clay Company and operates the largest working pottery in the Southeast at the Historic Train Station in St. Petersburg.  He has managed to eliminate over $6 million in debt for the organization and increased net income significantly while expanding programming in the past several years.

He has been in the museum and attractions business in the State of Florida for over 25 years with responsibility for attracting over 6 million visitors to the businesses he has been associated with and having served on the boards of the state’s museum association as well as being a former chairman of the board of the state’s attractions association.  He has also served on various grants panels for the State of Florida.

Prior to returning to the Tampa Bay area, he served as Executive Director for the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida from April 2005 until November 2010.  The Museum’s campus includes collections dedicated to art, science, history and the environment in a 90,000 square foot facility located on 72 acres.  The Museum also operates two satellite facilities in St. Augustine that included nine historic homes and four historic homes on 175 acres in Port Orange, Florida.  Atherholt built the first children’s science center in the region and first visible storage facility in Florida while at the museum and ensured the museum received funding (totaling nearly $7 million) from FEMA and Volusia County to rebuild a poorly-designed wing of the museum that had multiple flooding incidents.

Atherholt previously was Vice President of the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida overseeing a $5 million annual revenue in the following departments: IMAX, Group Sales, Membership, Marketing, Food Service, Catering and Concessions.  He recruited the Bay Area Renaissance Festival to Hillsborough County and developed new revenue streams for the museum during his tenure, including a positive change on the museum’s income statement of over $1 million in the last fiscal year he was there.   He also worked with several blockbusters exhibitions including the financial analysis of each that included Titanic, Space, Bodies and more.

During the years 1997 through 2001, Atherholt was responsible for creating and marketing blockbuster exhibitions as Vice President at Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg including the largest attended exhibition in Florida’s history: Titanic: The Exhibition which was attended by 830,019 visitors in six months.   Other exhibitions included: Empires of Mystery, John F. Kennedy: The Exhibition, The Cuban Missile Crisis and others.  He worked with the Smithsonian Institution as an Affiliate on several exhibitions and artifact loans.

For eight years before that, he served as the first Director of Marketing for the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg overseeing growth from 100,000 visitors annually with about 3% international visitors to 250,000 visitors of which 45% were international.  He positioned the museum as a must-see in the Tampa Bay area and worked with countless tour operators and tourism partners to achieve this.  Additionally, he worked to position the destination of downtown St. Petersburg as an arts-oriented destination at a time when that was much less the case than it is today.  He established the first cooperative ticket, first cooperative media event, first cooperative advertising and more with the various museums in the city.

He has served as an adjunct professor at Schiller International University in Dunedin, Florida teaching hospitality, tourism and marketing courses and also served as an instructor for Wardair Canada, Ltd in Tampa, Toronto and London.  Bi-lingual (French/English) employee.

Atherholt has a Bachelor of Humanities in Multi-Media Journalism from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts in International Communication from American University in Washington, D.C. where he also worked for the Agence France-Presse, the fourth largest international news organization at the time, for two years prior to relocating to Florida.  Additionally he has attended Richmond College, London.

Among the various professional and community activities he has been involved with are the following:

St. Pete Arts Steering Committee, Central Arts District, Former President of the Florida Attractions Association, founder and former President of the Looper Group, Inc. (downtown St. Petersburg’s trolley), former board member of Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, founding member of Visit Florida, former board member of Discover Florida’s Suncoast, Inc., founder of marketing cooperative Museums of St. Petersburg, founding organizer of Leadership St. Petersburg for Neighborhood Leaders, former member of the City of St. Petersburg’s Nuisance Abatement Board, and a former President of Uptown Neighborhoods, Inc.

Additionally, he is the former Treasurer/Secretary of the Florida Art Museum Directors Association and presently serves as Treasurer of the Florida Association of Museums and Florida Association of Museums Foundation.  He has served on the accreditation site visit team for the American Alliance of Museums and recently served as Vice President of the Council of Neighborhood Associations in St. Petersburg.  He is former chair of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce Tourism Advisory Council.

Currently a member of the Florida Attractions Association Foundation Board of Directors, Visit Florida, Florida Association of Museums, American Alliance of Museums. Former member of the following: Communications Committee for the United Way of Pinellas County, Visit Tampa Bay, Giant Screen Theater Association, Association of Science & Technology Centers, St, Johns County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Orlando-Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Arts Task Force of the Tampa Bay Partnership and others.

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