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ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 23, 2024 —United Arts of Central Florida (United Arts) announced the addition of
two cultural tourism directors to its staff – Deanna Kotch in marketing and strategy, and Thali Sugisawa in
programs and partnerships – to support the development and implementation of a formal Cultural
Tourism Department. Designed in partnership with Visit Orlando, the official tourism association for
Orlando, the program aims to bridge the gap between the arts and tourism industries for the continued
economic benefit of the community.

“This is an incredibly important initiative to elevate Orlando’s profile as a major hub for cultural arts and
entertainment, filled with countless organizations, talented performers and exceptional venues that are
drawn to Orlando for its inspirational cultural appeal and career opportunities among other things,” said
Jennifer Evins, president and CEO of United Arts. “Through this partnership, we will identify and package
current products and experiences, and create authentic and unique opportunities to bring the industry to
life to both enhance the existing tourism experience and be more intentional with driving visitation.”

This initiative not only attracts cultural tourism from around the region, nation, and the world, but also
employs local artists which helps art thrive in our community. In 2023, Visit Orlando invested over
$500,000 to support the cultural community by formalizing a year-long content capture program, securing
professional footage of more than 25 regional organizations with a local creative production company. It
was a critical first step in developing a strategic marketing narrative that has paved the way for this
partnership, leaning on United Arts’ expertise in the community.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to add more resources and focus to better market the full depth of our
destination’s unbelievably real cultural arts and entertainment experiences,” said Casandra Matej,
president and CEO at Visit Orlando. “From acoustically remarkable spaces featuring ballet and
philharmonic orchestra performances to thought-provoking collections and prestigious annual art
festivals, there is something for everyone to build into their ideal vacation in Orlando.”

Kotch brings over 25 years of experience, including previously serving as the director of marketing for Visit
Orlando, where she led domestic and international leisure campaigns to drive visitation. She is also a
former chair of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Central Florida and has led marketing initiatives at other
major brands, including Darden Restaurants, Nickelodeon Suites Resort and Southwest Airlines Vacations.

Sugisawa has led the nonprofit FusionFest since its inception, in partnership with the Orange County
Government, and has exponentially grown its local multicultural programs and global reach with nearly
20 years of experience in her field. Kotch and Sugisawa stepped into their new roles at United Arts on Jan.
5 and report directly to Evins.

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About United Arts of Central Florida
United Arts is Central Florida’s local arts agency that strengthens artists, creatives and arts organizations across the region. Through programs, funding, and resources, United Arts helps local arts and culture organizations achieve their impact goals. Through community engagement initiatives, the nonprofit organization strives to accomplish its vision of access to quality art for everyone in Central Florida. Since 1989, United Arts has raised over $190 million towards art, arts education, culture, science and history — an ongoing effort to enrich the community and inspire future generations.
For more information, visit https://unitedartscfl.org or call 407.628.0333

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