40 Under Forty: Victoria Billig & Joel Downing

Age: Both 37

V: Assistant Director, Appleton Museum of Art 

J: Jenkins Hyundai/ DJ 


Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you?

V: From musicians, writers, painters, and administrators, I am inspired daily by my colleagues in the arts community. Their drive, creativity, and diverse perspectives are my motivation to keep learning, and using that knowledge to better myself and my work. 

J: I’m very driven by the arts and have a deep respect for how rich the community is in Ocala. I try and attend as many events at the Appleton Museum and Reilly Arts Center as time will allow, and Art Walk downtown is something I highly recommend to anyone that has the time.

What aspirations do you have for yourself?  

V: I aspire to be an excellent partner to Joel, to show my daughter that women are strong and can do anything, and to continue my work in the museum field.

J: Much like any other person wandering this Earth I want to do something extraordinary and make a difference. Given that 40 is rapidly approaching and astronaut or ‘actual wizard’ seem unlikely at this point, I’d settle on getting myself more involved in the art and music community.


What is your favorite way to give back to the community? 

V: My background is in arts and museum education. Woven into everything I do is the fact that the arts can improve your everyday life on so many levels — making you happier, healthier, and smarter. Because of this, I’ve been involved with organizations like Fine Arts for Ocala and Magnolia Art Xchange which allow me to be part of a team that works to better the community through the power of the arts. Through my work at the Appleton, I have the opportunity to develop and contribute to unique and thought-provoking programming that uses the collection and special exhibitions as a teaching tool.

J: I recently performed for the Reilly Arts Center by way of their Couch Sessions series. Having a chance to connect with people in that way was special for me, and something I’m hoping to explore more in the future.


What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area? 

V: I absolutely love how Ocala is growing, especially downtown. Our City, residents, and visitors are eager and willing to support new and local businesses so we have the perfect environment for growth. I’m so excited to see what the next few years hold for downtown and midtown. And of course — our local art scene! Between the Appleton, Ocala Civic Theatre, Marion Cultural Alliance, FAFO and the Reilly Arts Center (among others) – there is so much to do and see.

J: This one is fairly easy for me, family. Watching our daughter grow, seeing a little girl emerge from a baby has been indescribable. Victoria is an amazing mother, I’m so lucky to have them in my life. The weather is a bonus for me as well, everywhere I’ve ever lived has been uncannily cold, the sun and warmth suit me well.


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