Powell, Sherry Stewart (Advance Professionals Group Inductee)

Circus Ring of Fame Wheel Plaque

Powell, Sherry Stewart (Advance Professionals Group Inductee)

Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 2022

Circus Profession: Ringling Marketing/Dallas Ballet/State Fairs/Florida Orchestra

Advance Professionals Circus Ring Of Fame Foundation inductee

The group honored as the Advance Professionals wrote the book on live event promotion and management. Since the early days of P.T. Barnum it has been the work of those who executed the tour planning, marketing, advertising , sponsorship and public relations that made the circus a financial success. The circus is equal parts art and commerce. Nothing happens unless a ticket is sold. In the world of show business, without business there is no show.

Many alumni of this group have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs, agents, show producers, marketing and pr agency owners, sports and entertainment executives and venue managers. You will find them in leadership roles of media companies, major league sports (NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS), ticketing companies, concert and talent management, theme parks, fairs and expositions, cultural arts and non profit philanthropic organizations. The universal ties that bind the group  is the collective shared learning experiences gained while working for the circus.

This is the biography of Sherry Stewart Powell, a member of the Advance Professionals.

Sherry Stewart Powell, a renowned figure in the marketing and entertainment industry, has had a distinguished career spanning decades. Powell’s journey began in 1979 when she joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a regional marketing director straight out of college. During her tenure, the Feld family, owners of the circus, acquired Ice Follies and Holiday on Ice, which later became Walt Disney’s World on Ice. As the person responsible for multiple markets located mostly in the southeastern United States, Powell lived and worked “on the road” before moving into the corporate headquarters in Washington DC. There, she helped support the marketing department during the transition of these three ice show units while simultaneously promoting the DC circus engagement. Powell’s crowning achievement during her circus career was working with the White House and overseeing “Nancy Regan Day at The Greatest Show on Earth.”

In 1982, Powell moved to Texas, married fellow promoter Bill Powell, and became the Marketing Director of the Dallas Ballet. As the marketing director, she managed all subscription sales, advertising, promotions, and ticketing operations, culminating with rebranding, expanding audiences, and creating an award-winning campaign when the Dallas Ballet performance opened the renovated Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas. In the mid-1980s, Powell and her husband moved to Florida, where she became an account executive for advertising agency Levy, King & White in Tampa, working with their entertainment and event clients.

In 1986, Powell opened Powell Marketing Services dba Red Hot Tickets and called upon her network of contacts in the industry. Her client list quickly included the Tour of World Figure Skating Champions, the Nissan World Challenge race, the Southeast U.S. Rodeo Finals, the GTE Suncoast Classic Senior PGA Tournament, American Gladiators Live Tour, and Sesame Street Live. Powell’s company handled all of the group sales business the first three seasons the Ice Palace arena was open in Tampa and managed group sales for many other venues in the region.

In 1997, Powell became the Director of Marketing for the Florida State Fair Authority in Tampa. In this role, she supervised all aspects of the marketing program, grew the Fair’s sponsorship program 200%, and won the IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Expositions) “Best Advertising Campaign” award in 2001 and 2004. Powell was instrumental in envisioning and producing the Florida State Fair’s 100th Anniversary celebration. Committed to her field, she became a Certified Fair Executive, chaired the IAFE Advertising and PR committee, and served on the Board of the Florida Festivals and Events Association. She was also at the table when the Fairgrounds negotiated the Live Nation deal to build the Ford Amphitheatre on the property.

In 2006, Powell joined The Florida Orchestra, Tampa Bay’s largest performing arts organization, as Chief Marketing Officer. There, she collaborated with their three primary performance venues: the Straz Center in Tampa, Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. She received her orchestra management certification from the League of American Orchestras. Powell’s creative innovation led to the programming of new genres and musical series including rock, video game music, movie scores, and happy hour concerts. She led the campaign celebrating TFO’s 50th Anniversary, collaborating with local museums and other arts organizations. Powell also travelled to Havana as a member of a City of St. Petersburg coalition, pioneering one of the orchestra industry’s first international cultural exchange programs in Cuba.

After serving as Interim President of the orchestra in 2018-2019 the company continued presenting live performances despite COVID in 2020 and 2021. Sherry recently resigned her position after 15 years of service to the orchestra and leaves a legacy of positive public relations, record ticket sales and a strong marketing team. Today her volunteer work includes serving as chair of the City of St. Petersburg arts advisory committee, on the Community Foundation Tampa Bay marketing committee, and assisting her husband Bill on the Circus Ring of Fame Foundation fundraising committee. Sherry and Bill have one adult son, Cory, who received his MBA in Sport & Entertainment Management and currently works in the action sports entertainment industry. April 20, 2023