(SHE/THEY) Executive Director & Founder
From a young age, Shannon Fortner has fervently dedicated herself to the causes of justice and equality— timelessly inspired by their motto, “Community Focused, Community Driven.”
In 2009, Shannon attended an Equality March in Washington D.C. where activist Cleve Jones put forth a rallying cry to the crowd to start organizing in their communities—inspired, she immediately went to work. The Equal Civil Rights Rally, which Shannon put together later that year, quickly evolved into the Harvey Milk Festival—not only to celebrate one of the nation’s first openly gay politicians, but to advance his ideals of equality, diversity, and LGBTQ+ rights. Over the past decade this Sarasota-based festival—which now operates under Shannon’s nonprofit the Fabulous Arts Foundation—has evolved into a multifaceted celebration of art, expression, queer identity and education.
When they’re not planning multiple festivals, the Fabulous Arts Foundation (also known as FabAF), also conducts diversity training for local businesses, oversees a LGBTQ+ scholarship program, and continues the perpetual mission of queer advocacy.
Besides organizing, Shannon also commands the audience in synth-rock band MeteorEYES, or arranges what will be on stage as talent buyer and event coordinator for both the Ringling Underground and her own arts management company, Moxie Productions SRQ. The community that Shannon diligently serves has recognized her efforts over the years, having received accolades such as the ‘Unity Award’ from Sarasota Magazine and the ‘Icon Award’ and ‘Favorite LGBTQ Community Leader & Activist’ from SarasotaOut.com.
No matter what type of work they’re engaging in, the creation of an inclusive and visible platform for the queer community is always at the forefront of Shannon’s mission.