Sarasota Wants Orchestra To Stay In City

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY MAY 23, 2019

Days after the Sarasota City Commission nixed plans for a new Sarasota Orchestra venue in Payne Park, city officials met with organization leaders encouraging them to stay in town, according to city spokeswoman Jan Thornburg.

City Manager Tom Barwin went to the Orchestra’s current facility on the Sarasota Bayfront to remind officials of the strong and long-lasting relationship. “Certainly, the city wants them to stay in the city limits,” Thornburg says.

Meanwhile, Orchestra officials say they are moving forward with a search for a new site.

“The orchestra’s committed to finding an urgently needed new home and that will continue to be our foremost goal,” said Joseph McKenna, president and CEO of the Orchestra, in a statement to SRQ. “Given the City Commission’s decision, Payne Park is no longer under consideration. Our work continues on finding a site for a new music center.”

As the master planning process moved forward for The Bay on the city’s waterfront, the Orchestra committed to leaving its existing home. Leadership for the group felt strongly Payne Park would be a great new home, but the suggestions created an enormous community uproar. As Sarasota City Commissioners on Monday met into the morning hours, three overflow rooms beyond Commission chambers at City Hall held frustrated citizens and Orchestra supporters.

But Thornburg noted that while the Orchestra feels eager to find a new home, the city won’t evict them anytime soon from their current one. The Orchestra’s existing lease stretches into the 2090s.

Officials at City Hall plan to help the Orchestra vet new locations that could house the institution, Barwin told Orchestra leadership on Wednesday. “Our staff is available at anytime, 24-7-365 if necessary to help in doing any research,” Thornburg said.

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